It amazes me that after [six] weeks in law school you now speak as an expert in a course where in my estimation you were mediocre at best. I accept my responsibility, as your professor, for trying to have Standards and Expectations. After thirty years in this profession, I am amazed that we have finally created a vehicle where cowards can express their accusations without retribution.
– Southern University Law Center Professor Donald North, responding to Courtney Horne’s blog post explaining her choice to quit law school. Her post largely blamed the decision on Professor North and his class.
(Keep reading to see more of the back-and-forth between this former law school student and her ex-crim law prof…)
Horne’s original post (we found her last name through her Twitter account), which we linked to in yesterday’s Non-Sequiturs, expresses frustration at the “toxic, soul crushing environment” of law school. She took particular issue with North’s allegedly unorthodox scheduling, and she claimed that he bullied her after she raised the issue with school administration:
Then came Saturday classes. Class on Saturday mornings at 10 am. Not on our schedule, just something he does. He had said that he “wouldn’t take roll but was gonna take roll” which confused me and after the first Saturday class (which I did not go to) I heard he had indeed passed a roll. The Friday before the second Saturday class I emailed student affairs asking if they knew if his Saturday classes were counted towards our attendance… I expressed concern about having planned around a schedule that did not tell me about the Saturday meetings and mentioned that he had taken roll at the first one. Later in that day, North himself said they did not count for attendance however I was still glad when I got an email from student affairs confirming that in writing… I was glad to have that settled and know I did not need to attempt to rearrange my life to meet the attendance requirements….
The Monday after I sent my email, North threw a literal tantrum in class. He screamed about someone “complaining” about him to “the Chancellor” about him “meeting on Saturday” for most of the hour and a half we were there. He kept asserting how “mad” he was and that he had found out who it was. Surely, I thought the student affairs office wouldn’t disclose that information. Especially not to someone who they undoubtedly knew was angry…. Well I was wrong on both counts.
She claimed that North subsequently gave the class a punitive “secret emailer” assignment, which other students in the class teamed up to complete, while she was excluded from any such study group.
Yesterday, Horne posted a follow-up, which included a lengthy comment apparently posted by Professor North. In “An Open Response To My students who Stayed the Course,” North defends himself and is not particularly sympathetic toward his former student. Here’s his kicker (emphasis his, not mine):
I believe that this is a law school of opportunity; however, do not misunderstand, at SULC, we are about the business of training the finest lawyers in the nation.
I DO NOT ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANYONE’S LACK OF CANDOR AND YOUR INABILITY TO GET THE JOB DONE. MAYBE NO ONE ELSE HAS EVER TOLD YOU THIS BEFORE OR MAYBE IT JUST MIGHT POSSIBLY BE YOU.
I DO HAVE MORE TO SAY, BUT I HAVE TO IMMERSE MYSELF IN THE STUDY OF CRIMINAL LAW.
Horne responds like so to the professor’s list of criticisms:
He says accusations but does not point out anything factually incorrect in my story. The term retribution really reinforces my image of a toxic environment where dissent is not permitted. Also, coward — the trend of personal insults continues.
Clearly he misunderstands my problem and believes it to be about hard work.
He doesn’t address whether he sent out assignments suddenly and with little notice which was part of my problem
We will see if the he-said-she said continues, but it sounds like there is some unresolved frustration on both sides. My suggestion, seeing as it’s Friday, is that everyone involved should step away from the keyboard, go make a nice, strong mint julep, and sit quietly on the porch for a minute — or twenty.