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February 17, 2012

Age bias case against law schools gets split, survives

#Law schools face an #age #bias case brought by Nicholas Spaeth, a remarkably accomplished attorney who turns 62 this year. In a decision Friday, U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle rejected efforts by the schools to dismiss the case altogether, but agreed that it will be severed into separate cases involving the individual schools.

During the 2010 hiring season, while Mr. Spaeth was a visiting professor at the University of Missouri, he went through the job application process but received no job offers. Instead, he alleged that Missouri, U.C. Hastings, Iowa and other schools hired younger, lesser-qualified individuals.

He definitely has qualifications, including graduation from Stanford Law School, study as a Rhodes Scholar, service as a Supreme Court clerk and a stint as North Dakota attorney general.

He sued the schools, en masse.

Reasoned Judge Huvelle, as she split up the case to be decided in four separate home-state courts:

"Unless Spaeth’s claims are severed, there is a real risk that a decision by one [defendant] might taint the jury’s view of another decision made by a different [defendant]. Trying Spaeth’s claims separately eliminates this risk, and offsets any prejudice arguments he raises."


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"Suits & Sentences" is a legal affairs blog written by Michael Doyle, a reporter for McClatchy's Washington Bureau. He was a Knight Journalism Fellow at Yale Law School, where he earned a Master of Studies in Law; he also earned a Masters in Government from The Johns Hopkins University with a thesis on the Freedom of Information Act. He teaches journalism as an adjunct instructor at The George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs.

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