Makau Mutua, Accused of Perjury and Misrule, Resigned as UB Law Dean

There are numerous news reports and blog posts online about both Dean Makau Mutua’s resignation as the University at Buffalo Law School Dean and the controversies surrounding his tenure. See, for example, “Buffalo Law School Dean Steps Down Amidst Allegations of Perjury” which largely restates what The Buffalo News already reported.

The news made it back (“Prof Makau Mutua Resigns As Buffalo Law School University Dean After He Was Accused of Lying in a U.S. Court”) to Kenya where Mutua has also caused controversy on the subject of the Kenyan President and the International Criminal Court. One African media outlet partial to the Kenyan President accuses Mutua of being an “ICC Mole” and of tampering with witnesses. (Who would have thought Buffalo could be so fascinating?) Another African media source declared that Mutua’s Buffalo demise was “God’s Wrath.” Mutua has denied the charges underlying these claims.

The faculty at UB Law had long been rife with complaints on Mutua’s leadership. According to Professor Rebecca French, Mutua has a “very authoritative style that is arbitrary and capricious.” French, along with several other female professors, particularly resented the way in which Mutua treated the faculty as a whole and each of them as individual professors. UB administrators apparently attempted to cover-up Mutua’s malfeasance as his actions nearly “caused a no confidence vote” that was stopped by then-UB President John B. Simpson.

Several professors were fired by Mutua in dubious circumstances. Professor Isabel Marcus recounted that she was fired by Mutua while she was undergoing chemotherapy. “He tried to force me to resign. I refused and he fired me.

As a result of another of these firings, Mutua was named as defendant in federal court in a lawsuit for wrongful termination. Mutua has been accused of committing perjury in a proceeding related to that suit. Fittingly, Mutua sat on Andrew Cuomo’s Moreland Commission.

Mutua’s wife, Athena Mutua, remains on the Buffalo faculty along with Mutua. She writes articles such as “Multidimensionality Is to Masculinities What Intersectionality Is to Feminism” and ostensibly soaks up tuition, endowment, and tax funds to prepare students to serve as legal counselors and litigators.

Leaving the school in seeming chaos, with strained faculty relations, falling enrollment, and a sinking U.S. News ranking, Mutua stated he is “most proud of my work with my colleagues and with university leadership.”

Federal Judges Overriding Juries Via Sentencing: Only Three Supremes Troubled

In rejecting a petition to review a case that stemmed from a small drug deal, the U.S. Supreme Court left standing an 18-year prison sentence evidently grounded in the conspiracy charges that were specifically rejected by the jury. The three justices favoring review by the court were Scalia, Ginsburg, and Thomas. They argued in their dissent that it is unconstitutional under the Sixth Amendment for criminal defendants to serve “unreasonably” long sentences based on facts accepted solely by a judge, but not the jury.

Do the Sentencing Guidelines afford judges too much room to heap many years onto a sentence for a relatively lesser offense where the jury rejected the more serious charges?

Legal Publishing’s Abandoned Ship Drifts Through the Doldrums

Over at Slaw, McKay and Rodrigues discuss the ditches into which market research often plunges, legal publishing’s disconnect from its customers, and the obsession with technology (and technicians) over editorial substance.

McKay: “I wonder if I’m correct in thinking that it (legal publishing) used to be enormously pleasurable, rewarding and creative but now appears, with some exceptions, to be desperately dull? Its dullness is reflected in its lack of innovation, its shift away from new product development and its failure to excite and engage with its customers and with its own people.”

Rodrigues covers the various errors encountered in customer research, such as that type of research that we might consider feigned market research:

“During my career, I observed any number of surveys or questionnaires used to develop new products and redevelop existing ones. In my experience, rarely did these surveys or questionnaires generate meaningful input from customers regarding product development. To me at least it seemed as if this method of conducting research was more form than substance…Sometimes the research…(occurred) after a product had been developed, to justify what had already been done, when only token changes in the product, if any, were possible. This was particularly true in the case of digital products, where changes resulting from a questionnaire or survey reflected what the developer was capable of doing, rather than what might need to be done to address customer concerns.”

Is this customer and publisher malaise due to the abandonment of editorial product development as McKay and Rodriguez suggest in their various columns?