Why have UO’s lawyers got off scot free? (updated with RG story)

That’s the question the Register Guard is wondering about, on the editorial page here:

The University of Oregon is getting mixed signals from authorities charged with enforcing codes of professional conduct. In June, a division of the Oregon State Bar found that UO lawyers did nothing wrong in 2014 when they obtained the records of a student who claimed to have been raped by three members of the university’s basketball team. On Sept. 25, the state Board of Psychology Examiners recommended that the director of the UO’s Counseling & Testing Center be fined for providing the records.

The inconsistency is jarring. The lawyers who made the request are in the clear, but the counselor who complied with it faces a $5,000 fine and a mandatory ethics class. The psychology examiners’ recommendation will be appealed to an administrative law judge, but in the meantime the UO can resolve the uncertainty by ensuring the primacy of confidentiality of student medical and counseling records.

The case has been a painful one for the UO, in no small part because of its own missteps. The victim of the alleged rape sued the university, claiming it had mishandled her case. Among her complaints was that the UO had given her counseling records to its lawyers without her consent.

The UO clumsily responded with a countersuit, arguing that the alleged victim’s legal claims would deter victims of sexual assault from coming forward. The argument was preposterous — any deterrent effect would stem from the university’s own disregard for confidentiality. The UO eventually dropped its suit and settled with the alleged victim for $800,000 plus full tuition, room and board. …

“Outsider77” starts off the RG readers’ comments:

My gut wrenched when reminded that the scum lawyers were adjudged by their professional organization as lily white with zero ethical lapse. It was they who initiated this transgression yet they are not held responsible for an ethical lapse. I feel for the he director of the UO’s Counseling & Testing Center. Had she refused for “ethical” reasons she may have been fired causing completely unacceptable damage to family and life. Asking an employee to defy their employer’s instructions in a legal gray area is irresponsible in that it ignores the truly grave consequences that defiance can have not only on the employee but family and dependents. The initiators, the lawyers, were let off scot free. If we want to hold people responsible, it should be the initiators, i.e. the lawyers.

Actually, my understanding is that the Bar’s decision not to pursue an ethics complaint against UO lawyers Doug Park and Sam Hill is still under appeal. But the real worry for UO’s lawyers would seem to be a follow-up in state court to the federal Bowl of Dicks retaliation lawsuit. The Oregonian first reported on this from court, and James Cleavenger’s attorneys seem pretty confident that Interim UO General Counsel Doug Park was part of the illegal retaliation scheme that has already cost UO $755K in damages and probably $500K in legal fees. Add that to the $800K for Jane Doe and another $200K or so in legal. And the buyout for Archivist James Fox, and the legal costs for that. $500K? And the potential retaliation lawsuits from the brave Counseling Center employees Jennifer Morlock and Karen Stokes, who reported the actions of CTS Director Shelly Kerr and Doug Park and Sam Hill. UO’s legal insurance paid for much of these costs, but of course rates will now rise.

Not a good year for UO’s General Counsel’s office. Fortunately UO’s new VP and GC Kevin Reed is already cleaning things up, as Diane Dietz reports in the RG:

University of Oregon President Michael Schill acts on student confidentiality

New UO General Counsel Kevin Reed helps

New University of Oregon General Counsel Kevin Reed — before he even got to campus — helped write new protections for the privacy of student therapy records at the campus counseling center.

UO President Michael Schill adopted the new policy on a temporary basis to protect students until the university crafts the final policies and practices, according to an Oct. 1 memo obtained by the blog uomatters.com. …

CAS Dean Search – go Ducks!

Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences

Search Committee

Search Firm: Diversified Search 

I’m no football coach, but the tag-line is not the way I’d kick off the search for a permanent Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences:

Dear CAS Faculty:

The search process for the next dean of the College of Arts and Sciences has begun. The Office of the Senior Vice President and Provost has selected Dr. Kim Morrisson of Diversified Search, to assist UO with the search. Kim has requested a meeting with CAS faculty, early in the search process, to hear about your vision for the college, from your perspective, including challenges and opportunities. Kim will use the information from this meeting, and others, to create a prospectus document that will be used in the recruitment of candidates.

You are invited to join Kim for a meeting with CAS Faculty:

               Friday, October 9

               10:30 – 11:30am 

               Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art/Pape’ Reception Hall

                    (enter the Museum through the courtyard near Marché Café on the south side of the building) 

You can read Kim’s bio at: http://www.diversifiedsearch.com/Biographies/BioTemplate.aspx?ID=11

Thanks for your participation in this process …. go Ducks!

For the record, Doctor Morrisson was also the consultant on the searches that produced President Mike Gottfredson and VPR Kimberly Espy.

CAS Dean Andrew Marcus says to hell with the General Counsel, let’s party!

Back in 2009 UO’s General Counsel Office was claiming that the names of professors who got tenure at UO were confidential personal records – so secret that the provost (I think this was Jim Bean) couldn’t even tell the Faculty Personnel Committee that had reviewed the cases:

Screen Shot 2015-10-04 at 9.59.22 PM

I even had to retract this photo. Fortunately saner hands are now in control. Either that, or Interim CAS Dean Andrew Marcus is in some deep shit for sending out this party invitation, complete with the list of who got tenure and promotions:

Dear CAS Faculty and Staff,

On Wednesday, October 21st, the College will host the first CAS Dean’s Reception of the new academic year.   The theme of this reception is welcoming all new CAS faculty and staff, and celebrating faculty members who are newly promoted and/or tenured.

I know that the start of Fall term is a busy time but I’m hoping that you will join us at this event.  Other campus welcome events invite just newcomers or focus on students, but this one is intended for all staff and faculty in the college and is meant to celebrate the beginning of a new academic year.

The CAS Dean’s Reception will be held in Gerlinger Lounge from 3:30 – 5:00 p.m. with the program beginning at 4:15 p.m.   Light appetizers and wine will be served.

I’d like to enlist your assistance in giving a warm welcome to the new faculty and staff who have joined the College of Arts and Sciences, and honoring our colleagues who have earned a promotion or tenure.

I hope to see you on Wednesday, October 21st


Continue reading

President Schill and GC Kevin Reed announce strong counseling confidentiality policy

I’m no law professor, but this policy seems to put to rest worries that UO will ever again access confidential student counseling records for questionable purposes.

It’s also notable in that the Oregon Bar ethics complaint against UO Interim General Counsel Doug Park and Associate General Counsel Sam Hill for obtaining the records, and the Oregon Board of Psychologist Examiner’s proposed $5K fine against UO Counseling Director Shelly Kerr for releasing them, are still in various stages of appeals.

This new policy will not help these administrators’ cases – it will hurt them by making clear that what happened was wrong, and needed to be fixed. But it will help address the student concerns about UO’s institutional betrayal over sexual assaults that were identified by Jennifer Freyd. Which is more important.

UO’s new administration has done the right thing. A lot of people worked very hard to get us to this point, and I hope they are celebrating tonight. None of this would have come to light without the whistleblowing of CTS employees Jennifer Morlock and Karen Stokes, who have filed notice of a retaliation claim against UO.

The new policy is here, and here’s the announcement:

Screen Shot 2015-10-01 at 10.46.04 PM

Coltrane orders search teams to fan out, as PLC rubble yields no deans

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 12.12.11 AM

From Provost Scott Coltrane’s website, a call for a “renewal and stabilization of academic leadership” and a start to 5 important searches:

Academic Executive Searches

This is an exciting time for the University of Oregon. We are embarking on a new era with a new Board of Trustees, a new president, and ambitious goals for fundraising and increasing state support. As we step into the future, we must focus on our vision of pursuing academic excellence in all that we do. This vision will be realized by expanding our faculty and enhancing our capacity for innovation and research.

Fulfilling our goal of academic excellence begins with the renewal and stabilization of academic leadership across campus. To that end, we are embarking on searches for the Vice President for Research and Innovation and for deans of the College of Arts and Sciences, the Lundquist College of Business, the School of Architecture and Allied Arts, and the School of Journalism and Communication. These searches will help define us as a premier public research university and set the course for determining the future of the University of Oregon.

Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences

Search Committee

Search Firm: Diversified Search 

Dean of the Lundquist College of Business

Search Committee

Search Firm: TBD

Dean of the School of Architecture and Allied Arts

Search Committee

Search Firm: Greenwood/Asher & Associates Inc.

Dean of the School of Journalism and Communication

Search Committee

Parker Executive Search Firm

Vice President for Research and Innovation

Search Committee

Search Firm: Witt/Kiefer

Page down for full search committees, or follow links above. I see many good faculty members:

Continue reading

Can the UO Senate save the General Counsel’s office from itself?

10/1/2015 update: The Senate website includes a proposal for a new UO policy on keeping student counseling records private. This presumably comes from the committee that interim Provost Frances Bronet appointed last spring, after she’d ordered the GC to return Jane Doe’s files: http://senate.uoregon.edu/sites/senate.uoregon.edu/files/Appendix%20B%20-%20Recommendation%20for%20the%20University%20of%20Oregon%27s%20policy%20on%20the%20confidentiality%20of%20health%20care%20and%20survivors%20services%20information.pdf

9/30/2015:  Students who have been sexually assaulted often seek out mental health counseling. It’s hard to imagine anything more obviously confidential than the resulting treatment records.

But while Jane Doe, the survivor of an alleged gang rape by 3 Duck basketball players, was in negotiations with the university’s lawyers over a settlement, Interim General Counsel Doug Park and Associate GC Sam Hill asked UO counseling center Director Shelly Kerr to give them Doe’s records.

Kerr turned them over to the GC’s office, which took them out of the sealed envelopes, scanned them into pdfs, and resealed them. Without looking at them for ammo to use in the negotiations with Jane Doe’s lawyers – honest.

As it happens the Oregon board that licenses psychologists has a thing about confidentiality, Shelly Kerr is licensed, and now the board wants to fine her $5K. Seems cheap, but UO’s General Counsel wants to fight it, because if they don’t it’s obvious that they screwed up by telling Kerr to give them the records. As if everyone in the state doesn’t already understand what a train wreck UO’s General Counsel’s office is, thanks to the Oregonian’s editorial page, and the latest allegations about their involvement in the UOPD whistleblowing retaliation.

Someone needs to save UO from this self-inflicted damage. And it looks like it’s going to be the UO Senate, which has now posted an exhaustive report on the issues, here: http://senate.uoregon.edu/content/confidentiality-students-counseling-records

Will the UO administration really let the GC’s office fight this to the bitter end, as it fought the Senate’s “Not in Our Name” efforts to drop the countersuit against Jane Doe?

Good news on UO freshman enrollments

Diane Dietz has the report in the RG. Increased GPA and test scores and:

One-third of resident Oregon freshman are the first in their family to attend a university.

One-third of all freshman are federal Pell Grant-eligible.

“This new entering class is set for success, in large part because of the generosity of Connie and Steve Ballmer,” said Roger Thompson, UO vice president for enrollment management. “The Ballmers gave the largest scholarship gift in University of Oregon history, $25 million, to expand PathwayOregon.

“Additional investment from the state of Oregon also strengthened the PathwayOregon program. More than 720 incoming freshman will have the support they need to excel in our classrooms, graduate in four years, and — without heavy debt load weighing on their futures — be prepared for their future careers.”

(4J update) Sharon Rudnick, Bill Gary, and Randy Geller’s HLGR law firm losing money, contracts, and lawyers

9/30/2015: Eugene’s 4J school system let HLGR keep the $19K they had billed before they mistakenly sent the RG the school board’s “confidential” emails about the Berman firing. But if I interpret this correctly, 4J now has replaced HLGR with local law firm Luvaas Cobb:

The District paid $18,532 in legal costs and fees to Harrang Long for services rendered in connection with the Register Guard litigation. The District paid $23,730 in legal costs and fees to Luvaas Cobb following Harrang Long’s inadvertent disclosure of documents; however, such fees and costs were not limited to litigation services in the Register Guard case.


Charis McGaughy, Ph.D.
Chief of Staff
Eugene School District 4J

And here’s the report on how the City of Eugene has been saving legal costs by getting rid of HLGR (thanks to a loyal reader for the link):

Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 11.43.19 AM

9/22/2015: Sharon Rudnick, Bill Gary, and Randy Geller’s HLGR law firm losing money, contracts, and lawyers

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 11.19.55 PM

Not to mention its client’s public records.

Rumor down at the bar tonight is that Harrang Long Gary and Rudnick has lost some large contracts for legal work recently, and not just from UO. Its partners and associates are moving on too. Below are recent departures from the firm including some deserting a year or two after coming aboard. One after just six months.

Here are recent departures from HLGR:

Sam V. Rayburn, now at Buckley.

Screen Shot 2015-09-03 at 8.48.26 PM

John Witherspoon, now at Buckley.

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 9.41.45 PM

Elijah Van Camp, now at DeWitt Ross and Stevens

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 12.07.17 AM

Vaden Franscisco, now at SynergAir

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 12.04.46 AM

Marjorie Elken, now at Zupancic Rathbone

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 12.04.12 AM

Randall Duncan, now at Buckley

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 12.03.13 AM

Craig Capon, now at Alacrity Services

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 12.01.50 AM

Rebecca Cambreling, now at YHC Law.

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 9.31.01 PM


Joshua P. Stump, now at Portland’s Buckley Law
Katherine Watkinson Wright, now at Watkinson Laird Rubenstein Baldwin & Burgess PC
Amber Zupancic-Albin, hired in 2014, now at OHSU
Richard Larson, hired in 2013,  now at Hutchinson Cox Coons Orr & Sherlock PC
Daniel Harris, hired in 2013, now at www.harrismediator.com
John R. Roberts, hired in 2013, now at Arnold Gallagher PC
Jason Yarashes, hired in 2012, now at the Virginia Supreme Court

My apologies if I’ve missed anyone, send me the details and I’ll add you to the list.

AAU taps another distinguished elderly retiree for presidential sinecure

Note: I’ve changed the headline of this post, in an effort to raise the tone of discourse and limit the slow drip of toxicity.

Recent AAU presidents are Bob Berdahl, Hunter Rawlings the IIIrd, and now Mary Sue Coleman.

Berdahl took in $619K as “past president” from this scam prestigious organization of publicly minded research universities:

Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 1.47.28 AM

Hunter III had a few problems filing the IRS return, so I don’t know what his take was:

Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 1.24.48 AM

“Duck Advocate” Tobin Klinger gets UO more great press attention

The Oregonian’s editorial page, here:

The University of Oregon administration continues to defend the way it mishandled an alleged rape of a student by three basketball team members long after common sense and common decency would have persuaded most anyone else to gracefully back down.

The university’s latest show of resolve comes after the Oregon Board of Psychologist Examiners handed down a proposed $5,000 fine for Shelly Kerr, the director of the UO Counseling and Testing Center. The board found that Kerr had failed to “protect and maintain the confidentiality” of the student’s counseling records when Kerr, upon request by the general counsel’s office, delivered a copy of the woman’s therapy file to the university’s lawyers without notifying either the student or her therapist or getting the student’s permission, according to The Oregonian/OregonLive’s Richard Read. The move violates state law and falls short of professional ethical standards, according to the board, which also proposes a reprimand and six hours of ethics courses for Kerr.

The university said it was “disappointed.” It has long maintained that it was abiding by a request from the student’s attorney – sent four months earlier – to preserve documents and records related to the case and to guard against deletion. Spokesman Tobin Klinger told Read that the university expects Kerr will request a hearing in front of an administrative law judge and that it supports her in that effort. In other words, the school believes that the board, like apparently everyone else who has called out the UO for the counseling file fiasco, got it wrong.

This isn’t really a surprise. Consider how the university responded after the student, referred to as Jane Doe, filed a lawsuit over its mishandling. The school denied Doe’s allegations. But it then decided to go on the attack, filing a counterclaim that sought attorney’s fees and making bizarro-world arguments that Doe’s lawsuit could harm sex-assault victims.

How? Apparently, her complaints about how the university mishandled the report could discourage others from reporting their own assaults. Does UO not realize how it is discouraging victims all by itself? At least this time, the university realized it was making yet another misstep and withdrew the counterclaim. The suit has since been settled with UO paying the student $800,000 and providing four years worth of tuition, housing and fees.

Fortunately, the case has motivated others to bring about the changes that UO should have adopted on its own. Outrage over Kerr’s handing over of the counseling file to university lawyers didn’t stop at the campus borders. As the story unfolded, state legislators passed bills that strengthened confidentiality for sex-assault victims and directed counseling centers on campus to make explicit the limits of a student’s privacy rights. Nationally, the U.S. Department of Education issued a “Dear Colleague” letter that advised universities that are in litigation with a student to not share student’s medical records with university lawyers without a court order or written permission. And U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici have proposed a bill that would make the education department’s guidelines mandatory. That kind of unanimity sends a clear message.

There are a couple developments to cheer. The university is developing a new confidentiality and privacy policy to roll out campus-wide. And the expectation that Kerr will request a hearing also counts as good news: Even with all the fallout, there’s been little explanation from the university about how this could have occurred in the first place. The community is still waiting for answers.

– The Oregonian/OregonLive editorial board

Kafoury and McDougal accuse Doug Park and HLGR of participating in UOPD retaliation against Cleavenger

9/29/2015: I don’t know if this would be a violation of the Bar’s ethics rules. From the website of the Kafoury and McDougal law firm that won the Cleavenger case:

Today, a federal jury in Portland awarded $755,000 to James Cleavenger, a former public safety officer at the University of Oregon who claimed retaliation and loss of his law enforcement career at the hands of the University of Oregon Chief of Police and two commanders. The jury found that defendants Chief Carolyn McDermed, Lt. Brandon Lebrecht, and former Sgt. Scott Cameron violated Mr. Cleavenger’s First Amendment free speech rights for speaking out on police policy and matters of public concern, of which his superiors disapproved.

As a University of Oregon law student in 2008, Cleavenger spoke out against arming the University of Oregon officers with tasers without proper training and a use of force policy with input from the campus community. Evidence at the trial showed that defendants resented his comments at the time, were baffled that he was later hired by the department, and the jury found that because of his taser speech this lead to papering his file and terminating him. The jury also found Cleavenger was secretly placed on the Lane County District Attorney’s “Brady List,” a process which blacklists officers found to be “dishonest,” effectively ending an officer’s law enforcement career.

Attorneys including Doug Park, University of Oregon’s Acting General Counsel, participated in the decision to “Brady List” Mr. Cleavenger. The University of Oregon was represented by Andrea Coit of Harrang Long Gary Rudnick P.C. in Eugene, who participated in the efforts to have Cleavenger “Brady Listed.” The decision to “Brady List” Cleavenger came immediately upon the heels of the decision by a neutral arbitrator that Cleavenger’s firing was improper and that he was entitled to reinstatement. The arbitrator further rejected all of the department’s accusations of dishonesty by Cleavenger. Despite the Arbitrator’s decision, UOPD tried to renew these claims of dishonesty by Cleavenger without providing the DA the Arbitrator’s actual decision, in a deliberate attempt to try to block Cleavenger’s reinstatement and in retaliation for Cleavenger filing his lawsuit.

9/25/2015: It’s not about the Bowl of Dicks: Jury awards Cleavenger $650K+$105K punitive damages

It’s about the UOPD’s retaliation against him for exercising his 1st Amendment rights. He’d only asked for $400K.

Continue reading