Monday, February 1, 2010

Secrecy and Discipline: The Butler Way – Part 2

In part 1 of this post I did a number of things. I broached the subject of the cloak of secrecy that Butler uses to cover all actions, thoughts and events it doesn’t like. I explained how I have been ordered by that administration to refrain from providing any details about Butler’s internal disciplinary process – even while university administrators felt comfortable proclaiming my guilt to anyone who would ask. And I presented a document filed with the Marion Superior/County Court in an attempt to correct much of the wrongdoing that those same administrators were perpetuating.

I also mentioned that the document that was filed on my behalf elicited a firestorm of response from Butler and its high priced lawyers. As I did in my last post, I’m going to be very careful about what I write because I know very well how Butler administrators and their attorneys will come after me if I poke even the smallest hole in their cloak of secrecy. It’s for that reason that I’m not going to say anything at all other than what’s already in public documents easily accessible to anyone who wishes to read them.

The document that my attorney’s filed was a request for a temporary restraining order. The purpose of a temporary restraining order is relatively simple. It’s used to stop one party from doing something that the other party feels is illegal or unfair until a hearing can be held to determine whether the action is actually illegal or unfair. A temporary restraining order has to be presented to a judge who then makes a determination about whether or not a hearing is warranted or whether the disputed action can continue. Because temporary restraining orders are often used in business disputes, and because when a business is kept from undertaking some business it could conceivably suffer a financial loss, the judge issuing the temporary restraining order has to determine how much of a bond the person asking for the order should post. In my case, my attorney requested that Butler not be permitted to have a disciplinary hearing on the date they selected because of the obvious unfairness they had already demonstrated. The judge agreed and determined that since no business interests were involved, no bond needed to be posted.

As you can read for yourself in the inflammatory document submitted by Butler and its attorneys (yes, all of Butler’s legal documents seem to have multiple attorneys signing off on them, perhaps simply to boost profits, perhaps in a misguided attempt to intimidate a student), none of this went over very well. Let me point out two of the most amazing points that Butler made. First, Butler University accused me of filing for the temporary restraining order at the last minute in an effort to subvert them. In reality, I waited that long because I simply didn't want to have to do it, but the continued unfairness of the internal disciplinary process left me with no choice. Second, and even more amazing, they demanded that the judge require me to post a $100,000 bond.

Let me say that again. Butler University demanded that a student post a bond of $100,000 simply for asking that an internal disciplinary proceeding be delayed until the court could determine that the process would be a fair one. Indeed, on the final page of their motion, Butler's attorney writes that the court should order me to "post a bond in the amount of One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000) which represents the minimum damages Butler will incur if it is found that it was enjoined wrongfully."

Since my request for a temporary restraining order meant only that an internal disciplinary hearing would be delayed, Butler obviously was not going to suffer financial losses from any delay. No, the real reason for such an outrageous request was intimidation – a strategy that has been fully in keeping with every action the Butler administration has taken in this case. They hoped that all of those zeros would scare me into backing down. I’m pleased to say that, this time, Butler and its lawyers failed to intimidate me. My lawyer, on my behalf, filed a response that made it clear that we would fight for my rights.

I’d like to make two additional points. First, as is the case with every attorney/client relationship, I consulted regularly with my lawyer and no actions were taken or petitions filed without my approval. For it to be any other way would violate the basic ethics of the legal profession. I raise this point because Butler’s president likes to say that his lawyer consistently acted without his knowledge. Second, I never said that I was unwilling to participate in a campus disciplinary hearing. Indeed, the petition filed in court said that I was willing to participate if a fair process could be guaranteed. After all, I had absolutely nothing to fear from a fair process since I did not act inappropriately. On the other hand, however, I had everything to fear from a process that included the president and all of his minions declaring my guilt to all who would listen before the process began.

In part three of this post, I’ll share with you, to the extent that I can given Butler’s demand for secrecy, the outcome of all of this legal maneuvering and let you draw your own conclusions about the situation.

Let me end with an acknowledgment that I’ve made often over the past months: none of this could have been possible without your support. Thank you.


  1. Thank you, Jess, for your courage in making all of this public. I know that it has been extraordinarily difficult.

  2. are a very brave young man. I am sorry that this has happened to you. Unfortunately, Butler Administration will do what it has to do to keep from admitting that they were wrong. I certainly hope protential recruits to campus are reading your blog. Unfortunatly, an institution that's primary mission is to make money has little compassion for its students.

  3. What a great way to spend university funds. As an alumin, I am so proud.

  4. This is absolutely incredible. Butler attempted to force you to put up a $100,000 bond just so they could punish you on their timetable in a kangaroo court!!!! Why have the trustees and faculty of this institution tolerated bullying behavior of this sort? Good for you for standing up for what you believe but it's a shame you have to be doing it alone. Changes need to be made - starting at the top.