As the writer of a political website, I do like to see it when I receive a notice of a trackback, meaning I see it when someone cites something I’ve written. Today, I saw notice of a link from an attorney who is apparently representing the USD Law School Professor who has some strong positions against Trophy Hunting.
If you recall:
I simply thought I would let you know that my article on “trophy hunting” – the hunting for “sport” of rare species – has now been published. You can download it from here, should you like to see it: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2822111 . Feel free to share that link others.
I advocate against continuing the practice of trophy hunting. I address the issue from, mainly, a contracts point of view, arguing that the practice can modernly be held unenforceable under the common law for reasons of public policy (public opinion has, in recent years, turned against killing very rare animals).
As we’re finding out today, predictably, that article generated a considerable amount of controversy, and as the professor’s attorney claims, may have played a role in the denial of tenure:
Many TFL readers may know Associate Professor Myanna Dellinger, or be familiar with her work. Myanna is the Editor-in-Chief of the ContractsProfBlog and a rising star in legal academia. She is the creator of the Global Energy and Environmental Law podcast (also available on iTunes), a frequent speaker at academic symposia and author of a dozen law review articles and many other publications.
Although it is not entirely clear why the Provost and President are so opposed to Myanna receiving tenure, there have been some disturbing signs that there are other factors at play in Myanna’s case beyond these administrators’ professed belief that lateral hires should not be promoted on the same schedule as homegrown faculty members. In 2016, Myanna published an article in the Columbia Journal of Environmental Law Trophy Hunting Contracts – Unenforceable for Reasons of Public Policy, 41 Colum. J. Envtl. L. (2016) (SSRN Link) that was highly critical of trophy hunting. Although the article was very well-received in the legal academy, the article was very controversial in South Dakota, where hunting, including big-game hunting, is still a popular activity. The article ignited considerable controversy in South Dakota and the law school was criticized for allowing Myanna to publish it. Rather than encouraging Professor Dellinger’s colleagues to come to her support, the law faculty were directed not share their views externally and not to respond to comments posted on the USD Law listserv. The Provost’s unsuccessful efforts to demote Myanna began shortly thereafter.
We are hopeful of a positive outcome in the Court. Certainly the facts and the law are on Myanna’s side. Unfortunately, Myanna’s extended legal battles to defend her rights have put a severe financial strain on her. USD is one of the lowest-paying law schools in the country (even third year Associate Professors like Myanna are still paid under six figures) so there is not a lot left over for legal fees. Although I have done all of my work on the case either pro bono or at a deeply discounted rate, it is still a major struggle for Myanna to pay for the ongoing fees and costs of litigation. Accordingly, Myanna has set up a Legal Defense Fund with Go Fund Me. This fund will be used to pay for court costs (filing fees, pro hac vice fee, etc.), and past, present and future legal fees. If the Court orders a hearing in the case, I have promised Myanna to represent her at the hearing pro bono, but the fund would be used to pay for my travel expenses to South Dakota, which is not the cheapest place to get to. If you have a few bucks to spare and would like to support Myanna, please consider donating to the fund.
And as noted by Professor Dellinger herself at GoFundMe, she offers a few theories as to why they don’t want to give her tenure. As she goes into her spiel as to why people should help her raise the $8000 she’s seeking to sue the USD Law School:
Why are the Provost and President so opposed to me getting tenure? Could it be because I wrote a law review article that was critical of the practice of trophy hunting, which created a local firestorm in this staunchly pro-hunting state? Could it be because I made a presentation to the Academic Senate about the University’s arbitrary policies on prior service credit? Could it be because I am an “outsider”? – Or a female? Only they know the real reasons. But whatever their true motivations may be, both the Provost and the President have made it clear that they are opposed to my getting tenure this year. Since they know they don’t have any valid basis to deny me tenure on the merits, they have resorted to procedural mechanisms to try to block me.
As you can imagine, all these legal battles are not cheap. I have an excellent attorney. He’s donated dozens of hours of work on the case and is charging me a fraction of his usual rate. But between last year’s fight to keep my title and this year’s tenure fight, I have already spent over $10,000 just in attorney fees, and this fight is far from over. There are court filing fees, travel expenses and more attorney fees to come, and frankly, I can’t afford it. It doesn’t help that the University of South Dakota pays its law professors among the least in the nation.
The questions she raises as she goes into her plea for cash regarding her denial for tenure ask if it is because she advocates against hunting, questioning if it’s because she’s “an outsider,” or because she’s “a woman?” And complains that USD “pays its law professors among the least in the nation.”
I know the reaction of some USD Law School Alumni was NOT very positive towards the professor’s writings to “ban hunting as against public policy,” and calling “it’s participants part of a “shadowy subculture.”
With the lawsuit demanding tenure, I doubt the professor isn’t going to change their mind any time soon.