Friday, August 15, 2014

Rejected Professor Candidate At Iowa Law Gets Retrial

From U.S. Law Week/Bloomberg News:

A civil rights suit alleging a candidate for a professorship at the University of Iowa College of Law was discriminated against because of her conservative views will be retried because the judge erred by reconvening the jurors to clarify the verdict after he had declared a mistrial and dismissed them, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit held July 15 (Wagner v. Jones, 2014 BL 196034, 8th Cir., No. 13-1650, 7/15/14).

Teresa Wagner taught part-time at Iowa Law and was known for her conservative stances. She alleged the school rejected her application for a full-time, tenured professorship because of her political views. Wagner sued then-dean Carolyn Jones under 42 U.S.C. §1983, claiming violations of the First Amendment and her rights to due process and equal protection.

Magistrate Judge Thomas Shields of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa declared a mistrial and dismissed the jury without clarifying which particular claims they had deadlocked on. He reconvened the jurors two minutes later and amended the ruling.

Addressing an issue of first impression, the Eighth Circuit held that the lower court decision was in error because a jury cannot reconsider or amend a verdict after a court declares a mistrial and discharges it from the courtroom.

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