Indianapolis Law: The Lynching Party Continues · 12 September 2005

Filed under: Indiana, Press Coverage

By Professor

Readers who are familiar with this terrible story, the scandalous persecution of the Apache army veteran Bill Bradford at Indiana University-Indianapolis School of Law, can skip immediately to paragraph 6 below for the new and important developments. But for readers of Frontpage who haven't followed this scandal up to now:

This spring William Bradford, an untenured associate professor on the law faculty at Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis (IUPUI), received a poor vote from his colleagues both on a straw vote for his eventual tenure, and even on a vote simply to retain him as an untenured associate professor for the next three years. This vote occurred despite the fact that Bradford has an outstanding teaching record (including a teaching award from the law students), an excellent record of service, and a simply stunning record of publication, including a book, a forthcoming book, and 21 articles in law reviews or in books. Usually a record such as this would be enough to assure someone at IU-Indy School of Law not merely tenure but a tenured full professorship.

Indeed, one of Bradford's colleagues, with a very similar record of publication, and who came to IU-Indy School of Law in the same semester as Bradford, has just received not merely promotion to tenure as an associate professor but promotion to a tenured full professorship. Bradford believes that what happened in his case was primarily his refusal last winter to sign a petition which circulated in the law school-a petition which supported Ward Churchill, the Professor of Ethnic Studies at Colorado who described the victims of 9/11 as "little Eichmanns" who deserved what they got. The petition was circulated by Florence Roisman, who is a powerful and well-connected full professor holding a prestigious Chair in the law school.

This is more than the story of the oppression of just another conservative (or in Bradford's case a liberterian). What is striking is Bradford's special status. To begin with, he is an Army veteran with 10 years service, including in the First Gulf War, as well as at the Pentagon. And in addition to his law degree, Bradford holds a Ph.D. in International Relations (from Northwestern).

And finally, while Ward Churchill only claims falsely to be an Indian, William Bradford really IS an Indian. He is a Chiricahua Apache. Bradford says that Roisman's response to his refusal to sign the Ward Churchill petition was to say to him: "What kind of an Indian ARE you?" Bradford sees this as an expectation by his leftist colleagues, and especially Roisman, that as an Indian he should support any other Indian-or even, it seems, anyone who just CLAIMS to be an Indian. Bradford calls such expectations racist.

After he refused to conform to Roisman's view of what an Indian's opinions should properly be, Bradford in March 2005 applied for tenure at IU-Indy Law. His formal application was turned down by Interim Dean Susanah Mead, due to "recent events in the promotion and tenure committee," and then it was turned down by William Plater, Vice Chancellor of IUPUI (of which the law school is a part), on the grounds that after only three years at the law school, he was not yet eligible for tenure. This was untrue (see below). Meanwhile, Roisman engineered a vote in the law school in which one-third of the faculty not only voted against Bradford for any future tenure but voted as well against retaining him even for three more years even untenured: i.e., that he be fired immediately. Compare this vote with what had occurred just 120 days previously, before Bradford refused to sign the Ward Churchill petition: the law faculty in November 2004 voted unanimously (19-0) that Bradford should be promoted from assistant professor to associate professor. The 10-5 vote this spring is a bad sign concerning Bradford's eventual tenure; university administrations only rarely grant tenure to someone against whom one-third of the department has voted. The significant number of votes for his immediate dismissal is especially insulting, and HAD to be political in origin, because on the merits (teaching, service, publication), Bradford should obviously already be tenured. Letters from Harvard, Miami and the University of Arizona had asserted this: "a ridiculously easy case." Indeed, under the standards prevailing at IU-Indy Law, Bradford should probably be a full professor. Instead, this patriotic Apache veteran-a person with enormous accomplishments--is on his way out of a job, done in by a leftist cabal.

One of Roisman's allies in the anti-Bradford campaign has been Professor Mary Harter Mitchell, who, like Roisman, holds an endowed Chair in the law school. Mitchell has one small book of case law (1982), and a grand total of two published scholarly articles to her credit. Her licence to practice law in Indiana was suspended in 2003 for cause (and it is still suspended). She has joined with Roisman in an "ethics suit" against Bradford (see below). The Apache veteran Bradford has, literally, published ten times more legal scholarship than Professor Mitchell has, and in one-eighth the time. Just imagine.

After trying repeatedly to get remediation of this situation through University channels, Bradford in June was contacted by the press-The Indianapolis Star-at first about a gender-discriminatory (women only) party at the law school for Interim Dean Susanah Mead being hosted by Roisman and Mitchell, but then his own case came up. The story about him caused a splash. Roisman and Mitchell have responded by filing an "ethics violation" suit against Bradford with the Vice Chancellor of IUPUI-William Plater. Plater, meanwhile, has already publicly defended Roisman and Mitchell in print in a letter under University letter-head sent to The Indianapolis Star on July 3. In that letter, Plater also falsely asserted that Bradford had never formally applied for tenure, and falsely asserted that this was because Bradford was ineligible for tenure. In other words, the Vice Chancellor of the University called Bradford a liar in print, in the most important newspaper in Indiana-while he himself was the person providing misleading information. And yet this the same man who is now in charge of administering Roisman's "ethics complaint" against Bradford. He has refused to recuse himself. And he has personally appointed a "committee of investigation": two well-known leftists and a feminist ally of Roisman.

Things have looked bleak for Bradford this summer. But Bradford has not been without allies, including Frontpage. The result is that members of the the Indiana State Legislature have become interested in what is going on at IU-Indy Law: the impeding crucifixion of a patriotic veteran for his refusal to sign a petition in support of Ward Churchill. On Thursday August 25 Indiana State Representative Jeffrey Thompson spoke with Dr. Charles R. Bantz, Chancellor of Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis: that is, with Vice Chancellor Plater's immediate superior. Representative Thompson chairs the Indiana House Committee responsible for the funding of Indiana University with tax-payers' funds. In that conversation, Chancellor Bantz admitted that Bradford was eligible for tenure, and admitted that Bradford had correctly applied for tenure, and indeed that he had an outstanding case for tenure. Now there have been some startling further developments.

Professor Bradford arrived home in Indianapolis on Friday September 9 from his visiting professorship of law at William and Mary to find a new message from Indiana State Representative Jeffrey Thompson. Thompson stated to him that Chancellor Bantz of IUPUI had now ordered IU-Indy Law School to vote on tenure for Bradford. The general tenor of Representative Thompson's message was then confirmed in writing by Vice Chancellor William Plater (though see below for corruption already setting in).

Chancellor Bantz's decision is good news, in that the Chancellor would not have acted so forcefully against the law school without consulting the university's lawyers, and he would not ordered the law school to vote now on tenure for Bradford unless the university's lawyers told him that Bradford had a strong legal case against the university if Bantz did not order this. In other words, despite the misleading statements made by Vice Chancellor William Plater in the Indianapolis Star on July 3: (a) Bradford WAS eligible to apply for early tenure last academic year, and (b) he DID properly apply for it, and (c) he was wrongly blocked from his rights by the law school and the university administration. The cover-up instituted after the illegitimate votes on Bradford engineered by Professor Roisman last spring has now unravelled much farther than before, Bantz's decision is an admission of fault on the part of the university, and the university is in retreat, at least on the legal front.

But we must also recognize that there is a sense in which Chancellor Bantz's decision is also bad news for Bill Bradford.

It is bad news, in that Chancellor Bantz' decision is that Bradford, having been lynched once at the law school, which this decision itself admits, should now accept as a remedy for this situation that he be sent back to the same lynchers again for another vote. The only difference is that now, of course, those who perpetrated the original violations of Bradford's rights are REALLY angry.

They are angry because Bradford never would have gotten even this much justice from the university administration, and certainly not this much justice this quickly, if he had not gone public to assert his rights--rights which the Chancellor's own decision affirms were indeed violated. But the very act of going public, which was the only way for Bradford to procure those rights, has alienated many in the law school, people who do not want the kind of attention the law school has received in recent months no matter how just the complaints of the victim. And it is this alienated law school faculty itself (and STILL including Roisman and Mitchell as voters!), who now are being ordered to vote on Bradford for tenure. One can imagine the results.

In fact, the law school faculty cannot be allowed to vote NOW on this case: this is because everything in the law school has been poisoned by the events subsequent to the April vote on Bradford. Everything now is political, and cannot be objective. And here is an example of how the political enemies of Bradford are working already to undermine justice. Vice Chancellor William Plater has emailed Bradford, presenting to him as some sort of personal favor from an ever-patient though very irritated Plater that Bradford can now go to the head of the Promotion and Tenure Committee at the law school and ASK if maybe the tenure case can to be opened again, and if this personage agrees, then Plater will consent to it. There is no mention in Plater's letter of Bantz's ORDER that the case go forward. Bradford would not even know about Bantz's order except that Representative Thompson left him a message informing him of it!

This is incredible conduct from Plater: (a) to so grossly mislead a faculty-member as to the circumstances of the decision and his current situation, and (b) a faculty-member whom Chancellor Bantz himself has just recognized as having already been victimized by the violation of his rights by the law school. This is an overt demonstration of bad faith and deception on Vice Chancellor Plater's part. And this has occurred before any process actually begins!

This deceptive act of Plater, attempting to victimize Bradford yet again, demonstrates the atmosphere at IU Indy-Law, and exactly why the Bradford case cannot be entrusted either to Plater or to the law school.

Connected to this is another recent corrupt action of Vice Chancellor Plater regarding Bradford. As readers will remember, Plater, having given false information on Bradford to the Indianapolis Star, and having defended Roisman and Mitchell in that same letter, did not recuse himself from deciding on the basic validity of the the "ethics case" brought by Roisman and Mitchell against Bradford, an the "ethics case" which consists of Bradford having gone public--the very act that led to Bantz's order to the law school to vote on tenure, as it long ago should have. This "ethics case" was accepted as legitimate by Plater, who did not recuse himself, as he was urged to do. And it goes forward with an all-white all pro-Roisman and Mitchell panel of "investigators" chosen personally by Plater. And now we learn that this "ethics investigation" of Bradford goes forward with NO RULES OF PROCEDURE: Plater has ruled that rules of procedure in this matter, precisely because such an accusation is unprecedented (!), are to made up as the investigation goes along. And finally--Plater's latest email to Bradford ORDERS him to cooperate with this "investigation", even though there are no rules!

So while there is good news, Bradford is far from out of the woods. In some ways, though his case is momentarily strengthened, he is deeper in the woods. In the long term, though, his case is strengthened by Chancellor Bantz's decision because it shows that Bantz will bend to strong enough outside pressure backed by a good legal case.

I believe that what now should happen is that Bradford should Bil meet with Chancellor Bantz and discuss a PROPER remedy now that Bantz's decision admits that the law school was at fault in not hearing Bradford's tenure case, now that Vice Chancellor Plater lied to the Indiana public that Bradford was never eligible for tenure, and now that Vice Chancellor Plater has lied to Bradford
about the circumstances regarding the sudden allowance of his application for tenure. The proper remedy is a decision by Bantz based on the 19-0 unanimous vote for promotion from Assistant to Associate Professor taken in November 2004, before the trouble began; if they want to include the 10-5 straw poll with the 19-0 unanimous vote they can, but even that vote is already tainted by the clash with Roisman and her friends. Alternatively, the matter should be referred to the Board of Trustees of Indiana University as a whole. But what CANNOT happen is that there be a new vote in the law faculty, where Bradford will be punished for having sought justice for himself.

Indeed, one can easily imagine a scenario where a "legitimate" argument to vote no on Bradford will be made because of--get it?--the "ethics cloud" caused by the University investigation of Bradford for having gone public: again, a decision to investigate Bradford which ws made by Plater himself despite the flagrant conflict of interest involved since he had already defended Roisman and
Mitchell in public!

"Professor X" is a full professor at a flagship campus of a major state university. The recipient of awards from both gay and minority students and faculty on his campus, he is also a registered Democrat who voted for John Kerry in 2004.