Monday, May 13, 2019

The Disgrace Of Supporting Harvard Against Sullivan

I haven't been around here for two years. I miss it, but haven't been able to devote the time to one of my passions - writing for myself.

But today I read something that moved me to come back and say something.

Harvard removing Professor Ronald Sullivan as a Dean, because he is one of the lawyers for Harvey Weinstein, is about the most disgraceful thing I've seen an institution of higher education do.

It sends a message that one of the most respected universities in the world has a limit to respecting the rights we all share in the United States. 

And let's dispense with some of the nonsense.

Yes, Harvard has a right to ask Dean Sullivan to step down. This isn't a debate about that type of right. It's a debate about what an institution of higher learning - that institution of higher learning - is teaching.

Harvey Weinstein may be lower than sewage sludge. He may be, in your eyes, the worst human to walk the earth. But when a law professor, a highly respected law professor, takes on a controversial client, yes, as Joe Patrice suggested in his article today that made me want to vomit, the "law firm" has the right to say "this is not what our clients want to see, so you're out."

Harvard is not a law firm, it's a place of teaching, and learning. It has an obligation to teach, and have people learn, that representation of the accused is an essential function of our democracy.

I would hate to see what Harvard would do if one of their professors represented an accused murderer.*

*For those that don't remember, world-renowned law professor Alan Dershowitz represented accused murderer O.J. Simpson in 1993-94, and yes, I know he wasn't a "Dean," but the world knew he was at Harvard, representing an accused double-murderer.

Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Ethics Law and Criminal Defense. He is the author of The Practice: Brutal Truths About Lawyers And Lawyering.