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JEFFRIES v. HARLESTON

March 31, 1993

LEONARD JEFFRIES, Plaintiff,
v.
BERNARD HARLESTON, et al., Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: KENNETH CONBOY

 Kenneth Conboy, District Judge:

 Plaintiff, a tenured professor at the City College of the City University of the City of New York, has filed a complaint against officials and trustees of the College and the University asserting, in substance, that his position as Chairman of the Black Studies Department, which he had held for twenty years, was terminated as a result of a speech he gave in Albany, New York on July 20, 1991. This speech was widely reported in the media and characterized by some commentators as being anti-semitic and denounced by numerous officials and faculty members of the College and University. Professor Jeffries seeks an order declaring that his first amendment right to free speech has been abridged and that his civil rights have been violated by the defendants, and directing the defendants to restore him to the chairmanship.

 All parties apparently are in agreement that Professor Jeffries' Albany speech was in content and substance a form of expression wholly protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution. The defendants assert that the speech, and by implication, the widespread criticism of the speech, the speaker and the College and University officials who tolerated the continuing presence of Professor Jeffries on the faculty, played no role in the termination of his chairmanship. Professor Jeffries' stewardship of his chairmanship provided a basis for his dismissal as chairman, according to the defendants, and they point to a post-speech investigation conducted by the Provost and Dean of the College to support this finding. The plaintiff asserts that the speech was the sole, or at least, the principle motivating factor behind the action of the College and University officials that caused the loss of his chairmanship.

 Professor Jeffries points to the following sequence of events in urging the Court to grant him summary judgment:

 a) plaintiff's re-election to the Chairmanship of his Department by the faculty thereof;

 b) acceptance of plaintiff's re-election, without reservation or stipulation, as of July 1, 1991, by President Harleston with the concurrence of Dean Rosen and Provost Pfeffer;

 c) plaintiff's July 20, 1991 Speech;

 d) defendants immediate condemnation of plaintiff because of his Speech;

 e) President Harleston's appointment of Provost Pfeffer to review the plaintiff's performance as Chair as a result of the Speech;

 f) Faculty Senate rejection of any punitive action against plaintiff at its September 19, 1991 meeting;

 g) Provost Pfeffer's October 4, 1991 Report to Harleston, supported by Dean Rosen's review, confirming that plaintiff was functioning well as Chairman;

 h) President Harleston's direction to Provost Pfeffer and Dean Rosen that they continue to review plaintiff's Chairmanship;

 i) Board of Trustees October 28, 1991 vote limiting plaintiff's appointment as Chair to one (1) year rather ...


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