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Prof. sues William Mitchell over teaching ban

  • Article by: Randy Furst
  • Star Tribune
  • February 10, 2014 - 9:36 PM

A prominent professor at William Mitchell College of Law has sued the college and its dean, claiming he has been unjustly barred from the campus for behavior triggered by post-traumatic stress disorder.

Peter Erlinder filed suit in federal court Friday, saying the school and several officials, including Dean Eric S. Janus, are discriminating against him because of the PTSD he suffered because of his imprisonment in Rwanda in 2010.

“Janus is defaming him personally and professionally by falsely claiming his PTSD disability poses a threat,” according to a news release by the International Humanitarian Institute, an organization Erlinder created.

“We vigorously deny his claims,” Steve Linders, a spokesman for William Mitchell said in an e-mail to the Star Tribune. “William Mitchell is committed to a safe, respective culture. … We will vigorously defend the law school in Court against his claims.”

Erlinder was escorted off the college campus by security staff in January 2012. In its legal response to Erlinder’s lawsuit, the college’s attorneys wrote that it is appropriate to bar him because of his “erratic, disruptive, and intimidating behavior.”

The school also said that Erlinder had sent “disrespectful, unprofessional and untruthful e-mails to fellow employees” and “vilified and threatened retaliation against faculty colleagues and college officials …”

Erlinder’s attorney, Peter Nickitas, said Monday that Erlinder had been barred from campus without justification.

“He brought certifications from two health care providers, his psychologist and psychiatrist that he’s capable of being a professor and he is not dangerous to anybody and never was,” said Nickitas. “He’s in good health. He’s ready to teach.”

Erlinder is the former national president of the National Lawyers Guild, a national organization of activist attorneys.

He was arrested in Rwanda in May 2010 while consulting with a Rwanda presidential candidate. He was accused of being an enemy of the state and was imprisoned for three weeks. He was freed after his case drew international attention.

 

Randy Furst • 612-673-4224

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