There's a remarkably mean-spirited airing of the University of Florida law school's dirty laundry in an op-ed today by Florida professor Michelle Jacobs. As I understand it, University of Florida President Machen rejected two candidates favored by the Florida law faculty. Jacobs claims that:
Machen could not give any concrete explanation for why the candidates forwarded to him, particularly University of Kentucky College of Law Dean David Brennen and former ambassador to New Zealand David Huebner, could not satisfy his criteria.
In an email sent to our faculty, he stated that he made his decision after consulting "stakeholders." These "stakeholders" could not have been anyone from our community who would have worked with the new dean. We suspect that these "stakeholders" were the individuals who tried to force Alex Acosta, dean of the Florida International University College of Law, upon our faculty.
Our faculty rejected him as unsuitable.
I don't know Acosta, but as a seemingly successful dean who was the only Hispanic and only South Floridian on the short list, it's not obvious why he was unacceptable. Unless ...:
According to published reports, Acosta was eliminated because of negative reactions from the law faculty on two issues—Acosta's involvement in a 2004 voting rights case in Ohio when he was a Justice Department assistant attorney general and sanctions imposed in a 2009 drug case when he was U.S. attorney in Miami.
Acosta came under scrutiny in 2004 after he wrote a letter to an Ohio judge four days before the election arguing it would "undermine" the enforcement of federal and state election laws if citizens could not challenge voters' credentials. The judge was weighing whether to let Republicans challenge the credentials of 23,000 mostly African-American voters.
In 2009, a Miami federal judge reprimanded Acosta, the U.S. attorney's office and trial attorneys for secretly taping the defense team of a physician who was ultimately acquitted in a prescription drug case. The reprimand and $601,795 in sanctions were reversed on appeal.
Throw out the reprimand as having been thrown out by the appeals court. This leaves the rather disturbing possibility that Acosta was rejected because he was a Republican lawyer working for the Justice Department at a time when voter fraud issues were high profile concerns.
So today's rebuttable presumption is that conservative legal academics should steer clear of Florida.