Deans Analyze Writing In Harassment Case

The Law School dean's office is trying to identify the author of a threatening letter sent to a pro-choice activist law student last week by analyzing handwriting samples.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the student said she found the note in her mailbox early last Wednedesday morning. It was written in block letters and contained only one reference to her stance on abortion. The rest of the letter consisted of "a personal, hostile attack," interspersed with strong expletives and physical threats, she said. Those who had read the letter said that the final sentence was, "I'm going to get you, and I promise you that."

Note Read to Class

The student reported receiving the letter to Law School Dean of Students Sarah Wald then read the note aloud at the weekly meeting of her class section, which represents one quarter of her class.

Last Thursday, Law School Dean James Vorenberg '49 issued a statement in the HLS Adviser, a school newsletter, condemning the incident and saying that it was a "very serious offense and will be treated accordingly."


The Dean of Students' office and Vice DeanDavid Smith began investigating the incident lastWednesday. Students said that administrators couldnot identify the note's author after evaluatingLSAT writing samples and other availablehandwriting records on file. Wald could not bereached for comment.

The dean's office therefore asked that leadersof a first year students' section turn overhandwritten forms filled out by students to beused for compiling a directory. The sectionleaders were put in charge of putting together thehandbook at the beginning of this year.

At last night's meeting of the Law SchoolCouncil, a student government organization,members decided not to advise the two sectionleaders, Anne S. Toker and Chase J. Sanders,whether or not to honor the request by the dean'soffice for the handwritten forms.

The first year section leaders, to whom therequest of the dean's office was addressed, hadasked the council to advise them on an appropriateresponse to the dean's office.

Many council members expressed concern thatturning over the forms would represent a violationof the students' civil liberties, since the formswere intended for use in compiling the directoryand not as possibly incriminating evidence.

Many who attended the meeting also said thatthe forms would provide inadequate and possiblymisleading evidence, because less than half of thestudents had turned them in.

"I think we're a little disappointed that thelaw school council didn't advise on the issue,"said Chouteau E. Merrill, treasurer of the Women'sLaw Association, who is a second year law student."It's up to the two section leaders--they now haveto make the decision on their own.