Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Northwestern Law Expels Felon Student

From the Chicago Tribune

A few months before graduation day for a program geared toward international lawyers, Northwestern University School of Law made a discovery that a prestigious institution of legal education might prefer to avoid — that one of its students was a felon famous in Texas for falsely portraying himself as a lawyer.

Officials promptly notified Mauricio Celis in March that he would be expelled for failing to disclose his history as a convicted legal impostor. That's when Celis sued Northwestern, causing several undeniably legitimate lawyers to get involved.

Northwestern argued that Celis, 42, of Corpus Christi, Texas, misled admissions officials by failing to mention his criminal history, which includes a felony conviction for falsely holding himself out as a lawyer and a misdemeanor conviction for misidentifying himself as a police officer in an incident involving a woman who wandered nude from his hot tub to a convenience store. Celis is, Northwestern's lawyers wrote, an "undesirable candidate" for the master of laws program.

Attorneys for Celis, however, said no one asked about his criminal history. Celis, a former big-spending political donor, spent about $76,000 on the program and related expenses before being tossed out empty-handed, he claims.

Celis and Northwestern agreed to a voluntary dismissal of the suit, according to records filed Wednesday afternoon in Chicago federal court, though no details of any potential settlement agreement were disclosed.

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