Former Berkeley Law dean moves to end proceedings against him

Sujit Choudhry

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SAN FRANCISCO — Arguments from counsel representing both former UC Berkeley School of Law dean Sujit Choudhry and the University of California were heard Monday on a motion in Choudhry’s ongoing lawsuit against the UC Board of Regents.

Choudhry, who was found to have violated university sexual misconduct policy, filed a motion in September for the court to stop campus from pursuing its disciplinary proceedings against him. The campus is currently undergoing a second round of disciplinary proceedings against Choudhry, now a tenured professor at Berkeley Law, which he wishes to halt.

“Choudhry was already punished,” said William Taylor, Choudhry’s attorney, to Judge Richard Seeborg at the Monday hearing. “Prevent him from being punished again.”

Taylor argued that Choudhry’s right to due process was infringed when the campus launched a second set of disciplinary proceedings.

In July 2015, a campus Title IX office found that his behavior toward his former executive assistant, Tyann Sorrell, violated UC sexual misconduct policies. In a punishment widely criticized as too lenient, Choudhry’s pay was cut 10 percent for one year, he was ordered to receive counseling and he was to apologize to Sorrell.

Bradley Phillips, representing the university, said Choudhry did not have access to due process — and therefore the school could discipline him twice — because the original sanctions against him were not part of a legal proceeding. While opposing Choudhry’s motion, Phillips conceded that Choudhry was being punished for the same conduct for which he was originally punished.

Taylor argued that public statements by university leaders against Choudhry have made it difficult for him to receive a fair verdict within university bodies.

“(It can be seen like) the fix is in,” Judge Seeborg said, summarizing Taylor’s argument.

Choudhry returned to campus in August amid protest. Interim dean of Berkeley Law Melissa Murray said at the time that she was unable to remove him from campus despite popular pressure.

Seeborg did not say when he expects to rule on the motion.

Austin Weinstein is the lead academics and administration reporter. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @austwein.