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Harvard Law School Dean John F. Manning ’82 outlined efforts taken by the Law School to confront instances of judicial misconduct and sexual harassment against clerks in a school-wide email Thursday.
The email follows Law School graduate Olivia A. Warren’s Feb. 13 testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, in which she described repeated instances of sexual harassment by the late federal judge Stephen R. Reinhardt.
Warren said in her statement to the Committee that she met with Manning and other Law School administrators about the harassment but was not informed of any subsequent action.
Manning wrote in his email that the Law School has taken steps to warn students applying for clerkships about judicial misconduct and will assist students and graduates in finding new employment if necessary.
“We’ve instituted new programs focused on sexual harassment, navigating workplace misconduct, and bystander intervention, and enhanced our communications efforts to ensure students and graduates understand their options, recourse, and remedies should they experience harassment during a clerkship,” Manning wrote.
Several students responded to the email on Twitter, noting the lack of an apology in Manning’s message.
“No acknowledgement of, let alone apology for, the fact that Liv Warren specifically talked about meeting with Dean Manning about the abuse in question and getting no follow-up whatsoever,” Law School student Andre R. Manuel wrote in a Tweet.
Law School graduate Jacqueline M. Trudeau pointed out that Manning’s sympathy came after Warren criticized administrators’ inaction in her testimony.
“To clarify, was he saddened and appalled only when he listened to her testimony before the committee?” Trudeau wrote in a tweet. “What about when he met with her? Was he not saddened and appalled then?”
Other Law School students questioned the legitimacy of the efforts to stop sexual harassment described by Manning.
“He claims there have been ‘efforts’ & ‘new programs,’ but if these exist (??) this is the first we’ve heard about it in our past 2 years of advocacy,” Law School student A. Vail Kohnert-Yount wrote in a tweet.
“It is not just embarrassing but truly demoralizing that this man is our dean,” she added.
Law School spokesperson Melodie L. Jackson wrote in an email that the school has increased “information sharing and support resources” for current and prospective judicial clerks, such as by publicizing the judiciary’s mechanisms for reporting misconduct.
The school also publishes blog posts and information on the Office of Career Services website to inform clerkship applicants — both students and alumni — of the resources available for researching judges and finding alternative employment, according to Jackson.
In 2018, the Law School proposed changes to the Code of Conduct and Judicial Conduct and Disability Rules for U.S. judges, calling for a central office to receive misconduct complaints and systemic reviews.
Manning acknowledged in his email that, despite these efforts, there is “much work” still to be done.
“We are committed to that crucial work,” Manning wrote.
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