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Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Observations on Monaghan Deposition #2

Here are my observations on Part 2 of the February 19, 2008 Monaghan deposition.

Pp. 114-116: Monaghan admits that Dobranski writes a report to Monaghan every single day about events at the law school. How many other law schools have their dean making daily reports to someone else? Is Monaghan now requiring Milhizer to write daily reports?
Q: How often do you talk to Bernard Dobranski?
A: Maybe once a week. Maybe twice a week.
Q: In person or on the phone?
A: Usually on the phone.
Q: And doesn't he apprise you of each and every important item that's going on at the law school every single day?
A: I get a -- I get a brief summary every day from him, and I assume everything that's important is in there.
Pp. 118-121: Monaghan admits that he is behind the move to Florida: "A: I would say that I have been trying to be persuasive in the Board making that move [i.e., a move of AMSL from Michigan to Florida]." And later, "A. It was my idea to persuade the Board to move the school."

Pp. 123: Monaghan seems to be unnecessarily difficult by refusing to admit that he currently wants to move the law school to Florida. I don't know whether Monaghan is being disingenuous because he thinks he can get away with it here, or whether he's aware that the ABA might not like the Florida idea and he doesn't want to paint himself as being 100% committed to Florida because the ABA might rule against Florida.
Q: You want to move the law school there [to Florida]; correct? That's uncontested in this case; right?
A: I did.
Q: Okay. Do you want to today?
A: I don't know.
Q: Why not?
A: I think so.
Q: You don't think so? Why not?
A: I said I don't know.
Q: Why don't you know?
A: Huh?
Q: Why don't you know?
A: I don't know.
Q: You've been looking at this since '02. You don't have an opinion today on whether you want to move it?
A: I would say I'd like to have it moved there, but I'm not obsessed with it.
Pp. 127-133: In an August 8, 2007 email to the entire law school community, Dobranski announced that 5 Board of Governors members were resigning "because of the term-limits policy and for personal reasons": Alvare, Bradley, George, Fession, and Scanlan. In the deposition, Monaghan is asked about who was on the original Board of Governors. All of the "original" Board members are now gone, including several people named in Dobranski's August 2007 email -- all except for one, Kate O'Beirne. At page 128, Monaghan says that O'Beirne was an original Board member. But as far as AMSL's website is concerned, O'Beirne is still on the Board of Governors today (in fact, in the deposition, Monaghan thinks that O'Beirne is even on the Executive Committee, see pp. 90-91.) If Monaghan is correct in saying that O'Beirne is an original Board member, why is O'Beirne still on the Board of Governors? Don't the term limits apply to her?

Pp. 133-143: Monaghan is ignorant about details surrounding the Nominating Commitee on the Board of Governors. Then Monaghan is ignorant about the mission statement for Ave Maria School of Law.
Q: Who set up the mission statement for Ave Maria School of Law?
A: I don't know.
Q: Does it have a mission?
A: I assume it does. ....
A: I think we have a mission statement.
Q: Do you know what it involves?
A: I couldn't give you any description of what it says now.
Then Plaintiffs' attorney reads the mission statement to Monaghan, and Monaghan is unable to intelligently discuss the provisions of the mission statement. I know Monaghan isn't well-educated, but Monaghan sounds like a despondent and sulky teenage kid who spent his entire 12th grade year playing video games instead of studying social sciences, and now finds himself looking blankly at his final exam and unable to answer the question "Discuss what you've learned this semester about 'natural law.'" Monaghan is the Chairman of the Board of Governors of AMSL, he is a sort of head for AMSL. It is ridiculous that Monaghan cannot intelligently discuss, in at least rudimentary manner, the unique mission and character of AMSL.

Pp. 146-154: Questions about the perception of AMSL as "Tom's school." Monaghan displays a supreme confidence that there is no way that AMSL is being run as "Tom's school," even if other people think so: "A: They couldn't have observed it was the way it's run [as Tom's school], because that's not the way it was run." and "A: The answer is that I don't dominate." Monaghan displays a dislike for Safranek throughout. Notice here that the roles of asking/answering questions are reversed:
A: Was he [Safranek] the one who said that I was running the law school, and it was my personal law school? Was he the one that said that?
Q: He didn't say that. He --
A: He never said that?
Q: He said, "The question is, is this --"
A: He asked that question?
Q: Yes.
A: Is he the one that asked that question?
Q: He's one of the people.
A: Okay. Well, I'd say that that question is as much a statement as a question ... if he said it, I think.
Q: So, you don't like being -- you don't like any suggestion that anything you do is wrong?
A: I don't mind it, because I know it's not true.
Q: You know it's not true, but do you know that some students and faculty think it is true?
A: Well, if it is, they've been told by somebody, because they didn't observe it in me.
Q: Do you think Steve Safranek exercises mind control over people?
A: I don't know.
These last lines hint at the conspiracy theory that I think Monaghan truly believes: the theory that all opposition by faculty, staff, alumni, and students is masterminded by a few disgruntled faculty. (A year and half ago, I posted 3 reasons why there is no subversive conspiracy.)

Pp. 156-158: Monaghan refuses to admit that Safranek's gift of $20,000 to help AMSL in the beginning was generous and instead speculates it was "persuasion to have me start the law school."

Pp. 166: Monaghan doesn't know what the term "fiduciary duty" means. [sigh...]

Pp. 170-171: Back to O'Beirne's long term as a Board of Governor member. Monaghan is asked why O'Beirne is still there. Monaghan speculates that her term limits are not up and that "I'm not sure that we didn't waive some of that temporarily because we were losing a number of Board members." Oh great, sometimes term limits are enforced, sometimes they aren't. How convenient.

Pp. 179-180: Monaghan's strange interruption about Safranek staring at him and trying to intimidate him.

Pp. 174-193: Questions about the faculty's no confidence vote, about the Alumni Board's no confidence, about the Mirror of Justice statement. Monaghan has no good answer as to what he did in response. (By the way, Alumni Board, nice work! At the time, you might have thought that the no-confidence resolution was pointless, but it was useful here in the deposition.)

Pp. 187-188 Monaghan's strange interruption about Plaintiffs' attorney pointing a finger. "A: Do you point at people as a habit? I've always -- Q: Yes, I do. A: I've always been brought up that that's impolite. Q: I'm sorry. A: And you've been doing that quite a bit."

Pp. 196-197: Interesting text of a memo from Janet Smith to AMC administration that I hadn't seen before: "It's regrettable that many are getting the impression that those who raise concerns about decisions are dismissed as hostile troublemakers and not team players."

Pp. 200: Interesting text of a July 30, 2007 email from Prof. Murphy to Dobranski that I hadn't seen before: "Your conduct, Bernie, this past year has been completely contrary to this declaration [i.e., AMSL being a vibrant Catholic community]. In particular, your persecution of Steve Safranek and the predictable effect on his family has been shameful."

Pp. 201-202: Discussion about a letter from Dan Kelly. Great work, Dan!

Pp. 203: When confronted by the fact that many students and alumni wrote letters objecting to events at the law school, Monaghan says "I think they can be persuaded and misled." Again, see my post why there is no subversive conspiracy.

Bring on Part #3!