Former Berkeley Law dean criticizes faculty committee’s response to initial complaint, files new grievance

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Former Berkeley Law dean Sujit Choudhry filed a new grievance with a campus faculty committee after it determined — in an initial examination — that he failed to show that launching a second investigation of his behavior is unjust.

In a letter that Choudhry filed Monday, he requested that the disciplinary committee of UC Berkeley’s Academic Senate reconsider his initial grievance, which in April alleged that administrators violated campus policies by launching a second disciplinary process against him.

“I am aggrieved,” Choudhry wrote in the new grievance letter. “Each day that (the investigation) continues harms me … it separates me from the University of California, the Berkeley campus, and my professional pursuits.”

Last year, after Choudhry was found to have violated UC sexual misconduct rules, then-executive vice chancellor and provost Claude Steele, with approval from Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, disciplined Choudhry with a 10 percent reduction of his dean salary for one year, counseling and a written apology to his executive assistant Tyann Sorrell, who brought a sexual harassment lawsuit against him in March.

In light of news of Sorrell’s lawsuit, UC President Janet Napolitano launched a new investigation of Choudhry’s actions that could strip him of his status as a tenured professor, which he has retained even after he stepped down from his position as dean.

On May 31, the campus Academic Senate’s Committee on Privilege and Tenure notified Choudhry that his April grievance letter “fails to present a prima facie case for (the) claims,” according to Choudhry’s letter.

Choudhry wrote that the committee’s decision indicates that it can only examine the fairness of the second investigation after it has concluded. He argues that this idea is “ludicrous,” because the second investigation “itself violates (his) rights to fair and equitable treatment.”

A number of faculty investigators were appointed June 15 to conduct an investigation into whether Choudhry had violated the Faculty Code of Conduct, three months after Choudhry received preliminary notice of the second review.

Christopher Patti, chief campus counsel, wrote in an April 6 letter to William Taylor, Choudhry’s attorney, that previous disciplinary actions against Choudhry addressed his position as dean, while the new investigation addresses Choudhry’s conduct as a faculty member under standards set by the Faculty Code of Conduct.

Choudhry was notified earlier this summer that he would not receive a summer salary — customary for law faculty — given his violation of campus sexual harassment policy and ongoing disciplinary review.

Faculty investigators will have until mid-September to conclude their investigation.

Check back for updates.

Suhauna Hussain is the managing editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @suhaunah.