Court to Hear Petition to Dismiss Suit Filed By Student Against Professor

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The fate of a small claims lawsuit filed against a UC Berkeley professor for his involvement in the student conduct proceedings of a campus graduate student facing misconduct charges may be determined Wednesday, when a petition by the professor to dismiss the case will be heard in court.

The hearing scheduled for Wednesday at 9 a.m. at the Alameda County Superior Court will address the suit filed by UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism Josh Wolf against Robert DiMartino, a campus clinical optometry professor. DiMartino is petitioning the court to dismiss the suit, which seeks damages for DiMartino's actions while presiding over Wolf's student conduct hearing addressing Wolf's coverage of the November 2009 occupation of Wheeler Hall.

According to the claim Wolf filed in November, DiMartino was contractually obligated to hold Wolf's student conduct proceedings in accordance with outlined student conduct procedures, but did not, resulting in a breach of contract. In October, at Wolf's student conduct prehearing conference, DiMartino did not allow Wolf's advisor Thomas Frampton - a student at UC Berkeley School of Law and member of the Campus Rights Project - to speak on Wolf's behalf, Wolf said.

Because the procedures were not followed, Wolf stated in a claim that he has suffered "emotional distress," violation of constitutional privacy rights and interference with his "property interest in ... education" - the money he has invested in his public education, according to Wolf.

According to court documents, the small claims court may lack jurisdiction to make a decision in the case.

Possible outcomes of the hearing Wednesday include allowing the small claims suit to proceed, dismissing the suit or moving the case from small claims court to the superior court, Wolf said.

According to Wolf, on Nov. 4, 2010 he filed small claims court against DiMartino because of his role in Wolf's student conduct proceedings. In October, at Wolf's student conduct prehearing conference, DiMartino did not allow Wolf's advisor Thomas Frampton - a student at UC Berkeley School of Law and member of the Campus Rights Project - to speak on Wolf's behalf, Wolf said.

After receiving no response to an open letter addressed to campus administrators in which he expressed concerns regarding his conduct proceedings, lack of clarity in the student code of conduct and protection for student journalists, Wolf said he began considering his legal options since he had "exhausted his administrative appeals."

Tags: ALAMEDA COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT, WHEELER HALL OCCUPATION, STUDENT CONDUCT HEARINGS


Contact Aaida Samad at [email protected]



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