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More on the Chemerinsky Flap

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The LA Times has this story today by Garrett Therolf and Maura Dolan. Apparently there are some discussions under way about Chemerinsky getting the dean's job after all. Further down the story, we finally have the first awareness in the media that Chemerinsky printed falsehoods in his Aug. 16 article, not just that he expressed opinions. Turns out I wasn't the only one horrified at his claims and not the only one who wrote the LA Times about them. Add the Chief Justice of California in the same column.

Also Friday, details emerged about the criticism of Chemerinsky that the university received in the days before Drake rescinded the job offer, including from California Chief Justice Ronald M. George, who criticized Chemerinsky's grasp of death penalty appeals.

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The criticism included a letter from the California Supreme Court criticizing a Chemerinsky opinion piece in The Times.

In an interview Friday, George said Chemerinsky made a "gross error" that was "very troubling" to the court in an Aug. 16 article that criticized U.S. Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales. Drake offered him the job that same day.

George, an appointee of Gov. Pete Wilson, said that Chemerinsky wrote incorrectly that only one state, Arizona, provided lawyers for death row inmates who want to file a constitutional challenge, known as a habeas corpus petition, to have their sentences or convictions overturned.

George said he was surprised Chemerinsky would make such a mistake. The court asked Court Clerk Frederick K. Ohlrich to write a letter to the editor to The Times to correct the piece.

"None of us could understand how somebody, let alone someone who is very bright and a fine legal scholar, could get that wrong," George said. "It had nothing to do with his philosophy. I certainly feel he is an outstanding legal scholar and a fine advocate."

The Times has no record of the letter being received as a letter to the editor or as a request for correction.

George gave a copy of the letter to Malcolm.

Malcolm said he gave the letter to Drake. "It disturbed him, but I don't think it was the reason for his decision."

Chemerinsky was angered by the letter when told about it by The Times.

"If the justices sent a letter to UC Irvine with the goal of influencing the dean process, that's inappropriate," he said.

He also stood by his article. "My op-ed was accurate in saying California does not comply with the federal standards for providing counsel to those on death row in their post-conviction proceedings, and Arizona is the only state deemed in federal district court to have met the federal standards."

His op-ed said a lot more than that. It said California and every other state except Arizona fails to provide appointed counsel on state habeas. If he still won't issue a retraction of that false statement after having been advised it has been challenged, that is even worse than the original article.

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Chemerinsky has now been rehired as dean.

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