Georgetown Scaliagate Heats up With Defamation Action

By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on March 24, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Just when we thought the email 'Scaliagate' scandal at Georgetown University's Law Center was dying down, in fact, things have started to heat up.

It appears that GULC's Prof. Gary Peller has filed a Notice of Grievance against Dean Treanor for what are allegedly retaliatory and defamatory statements related to Justice Scalia's passing last month.

Original Press Release

Controversy began a little after Justice Scalia's death when GULC issued a press release entitled "Georgetown Law Mourns the Loss of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia." Two GULC professors at the school, Gary Peller and Louis Michael Seidman, wrote responses to the press release. Both men were (and presumably are) ardent critics of Scalia and his opinions. "Like Mike Seidman," Mr. Peller wrote, "I also was put-off by the invocation of the 'Georgetown Community' in the press release that Dean Treanor issued Saturday."

Overall reaction to the reactions on the Internet has been somewhat mixed. David Lat at Above the Law even wrote that he thought that Mr. Peller was "a drama queen." And that general sentiment is certainly shared by many. It is in poor taste to start excoriating a man before his body has even had a chance to cool down.

Peller Ups His Game

Just a few days ago, Peller decided to petition for and obtain a Notice of Grievance against Dean Treanor for what appears to be defamation in retaliation for Peller's response to Treanor's original press release.

Peller claims that Treanor defamed him not because of Treanor's second email, but because Treanor had told other GULC professors that Peller's first email was a violation of campus e-mail policy. Peller alleged harm to his reputation because by now the news had spread widely throughout the school. He demands an apology and retraction.

Make It Stop

This was supposed to be a customary time to respectfully observe a major legal figure's passing. And yet somehow it has descended into this ridiculous farcical comedy. What's going to come out of Scaliagate next?

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