Law School Graduates Form Public Interest Foundation

Several members of the Harvard Law School class of 1958 announced yesterday that they are launching a new public interest law foundation.

Consumer advocate Ralph Nader and Bromley Professor of Law Arthur R. Miller, members of the class and of the new Appleseed Foundation's board of directors, held a press conference along with other class members in Washington, D.C.

Members of the class have donated $150,000 to start the foundation, which organizers plan to expand into a national network of public service law centers, said spokesperson Linda Singer '88.

Nader said yesterday that the centers would not focus on any particular issues or be beholden to any political ideologies, but would rather address wider legal concerns in the centers" respective communities.

"The centers will advance systemic legal strategies to deal with problems before they fester," said Nader. "No patterns of injustice will be off limits."

The new foundation will provide "startup money" to begin statewide public interest law centers, Singer said. Once these centers are started, organizers hope they will be funded by state bar associations and run by community members.

Nader said he thought the centers were a good way for alumni to give something back to the community.

"I always thought a class full of influential attorneys should forge a mechanism for being powerful, influential attorneys for the public," Nader said.

The first of these centers will start in Massachusetts this summer, and Harvard Law School may support the program through curricular offerings or facilitating an externship program.

Miller, who is a legal commentator for Good Morning America, said in a press release that he planned to take a personal hand in promoting the foundation.

"Harvard will provide "intellectual backup" for the Center, through a research seminar I plan to offer, and through a faculty-supervised clinical program connected to the law school curriculum," Miller said.

Law School Dean Robert C. Clark said yesterday that while such ties are not yet certain, they remain a strong possibility.

"If we do proceed to develop an externship program, it will have to meet the usual criterion," Clark said in an interview. "It only seems practical to open something with the local SUITan alarm system in the residence. The suit alsochrages that the dean failed to warm the plaintiffof prior break-ins to Faculty Row residences.

"The entry was proximately caused by thefailure of Harvard to have adequately secured theapartment from unlawful entry." says the amendedcomplaint filed in December.

The complaint also charges the "Harvard wasaware that the plaintiff's apartment wasvulnerable to break-in."

Alarm Systems

In the complaint, the plaintiff's attorneys,Max B. Stern and Lynn Weissberg, argue thatHarvard neglected to install an alarm system inthe apartment occupied by the professor and hisfamily.

The complaint notes that alarm systems wereinstalled in the Faculty Row apartments occupiedby Jewett and North House Master J. WoodlandHastings '66, Magelsdorf professor of naturalsciences.

The University conducted an inspection ofHasting's and Jewett's apartments to determinewhether they should install alarms, according tothe suit. But no such inspection was ordered forthe family's apartment.

The security inspection of Jewett's housefollowed a break-in in 1987. As a result of theinspection, the University installed an alarmsystem in Jewett's apartment. Hastings' alarm wasinstalled in 1981.

Harvard, in its opposition to the amendedcomplaint, contended that it was merely a stalltactic by the plaintiff to shift the focus of thecase before the close of the discovery process.

Lawyers for the professor's daughter had arguedthat the University failed to secure theapartment's glass sliding door and that theplaintiff was not properly instructed how to lockand secure the door. But attorney Richard J.Riley, who is representing the University,contends that the shift was prompted because earlyevidence discounted these two key claims of theplaintiff.

In his response to the plaintiff's amendedcomplaint, Riley says that Jewett should not be adefendant in the case.

"The occurrence of a break-in in a differentresidence occupied by a high-profile target fouryears prior to the incident at issue affords nobasis for asserting a claim of negligence againstDean Jewett individually," Riley says.

Riley argues further that previous breakins and theinstallation of alarms are irrelevant because pastincidents were not 'sufficiently similar innature, location, or recency of occurrence."

In addition to the break-in at Jewett's, therewere two break-ins at Hastings'--in 1981 and 1982after his alarm had been installed.

In his deposition, Hastings testified thatduring the second break-in, "a man gained entry byphysically breaking the [sliding door] lock andphysically moving the door so that he could liftthe door up and over the slide bolt and opened thedoor and came into the house."

Hastings said he wasn't at home when thebreak-in occurred.

Attorneys for the plaintiff are arguing thatHastings' testimony shows the sliding doors werevulnerable to break-in.

"These units had sliding glass doors mounted insuch a way as to make them particularly prone tobreak-ins," says a recent filing of the plaintiffin the case.

The plaintiff's attorneys argue that theUniversity installed Hastings' and Jewett's alarmsbecause they are important figures on campus.

Both Hastings and Jewett testified in theirdeposition that they were able to get alarmsinstalled in their apartments without having toofficially ask the University.

Jewett testified that he unofficially requestedthe installation of an alarm in his apartment,police suggested that Jewett might want an alarm,and " I indicated to them that I thought thatwould be a good idea," he said.

The dean testified that although he did notfollow up on that initial request, "at some laterpoint in time an alarm was installed."

But in his deposition, Lichten, the director ofthe Office for Physical Resources, appeared toboost the plaintiff's argument that Jewettreceived special treatment. Lichten testified thatthe decision to install the alarm in Jewett'sresidence was based on the dean's status as a"public figure" on campus.

A `Lost' Police Report

In the discovery process, the Universityrepeatedly fought efforts by the plaintiff'sattorneys to secure a police report on the Jewettbreak-in.

In fact, Riley wrote to Weissberg that thereport could not be found. "We have not been ableto find any record of a break-in at Dean Jewett'sresidence in Faculty Row," Riley said.

Later during the trial, the University producedthe police report, which, contrary to Riley'sclaim, Harvard officials had located immediatelyafter the 1991 rape--and before the suit wasfiled.

The difficulties with discovery will likelydelay the case further. A final pretrialconference, scheduled for March 2, will probablybe postponed, Weissberg said.

Weissberg said she expects the trial to bescheduled for sometime later this year. Whether itwill go to trial, she said, "depends on Harvard'swillingness to settle."