Professor At The University Of California Put Under Double Jeopardy


In America, most citizens are aware that when a person is put into trial and is already sanctioned with appropriate punishment, they cannot be put into trial once again for the same crime. This would be a ground for double jeopardy which is a direct violation of the Bill of Rights in the Fifth Amendment to the US constitution.

However, this seems to have escaped University of California President Janet Napolitano while handling the case of Sujit Choudhry, UC Berkeley Law professor and also Dean of Law School, until he resigned the previous month. UC Berkeley's executive chancellor Claude Steele wrote to Choudhry in July of 2015 about the results of the investigation performed by the University's Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination regarding a complaint filed by Tyann Sorrell, an executive assistant in the department.

According to Real Clear Politics, during the OPHD's investigation, Choudhry was proven guilty of behaving inappropriately toward Sorrell through "repeated hugging, kissing on the cheek, and touching on shoulders and arms." It was unwelcome and violated the UC Policy on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence.

As punishment, Choudhry had an approximately 10 percent cut in his salary for one year and was also ordered, at his own expense, to undertake professional coaching on "maintaining appropriate standards of behavior in the workplace" and a written apology to Sorrell. This is the first time Choudhry has faced sexual harassment allegations throughout his career but nonetheless he complied with the punishment OPHD sanctioned on him while continuing to serve as dean.

Taking into consideration his distinguished career at the University of Toronto and New York University, Berkeley had closed the case. Sorrell however was not content with the verdict and on March 8, she filed a case against Choudhry in Alameda County Superior Court.

Sorrell's suit increased the stakes. She insisted that Choudhry sexually harassed her and accused UC-Berkeley of not taking any action to prevent the incident from happening and that they have mishandled her complaint. She accused that the action of both Choudhry and the University "was intentional, outrageous, malicious, and committed for the purpose of causing Plaintiff to suffer humiliation, mental anguish, and severe physical and emotional distress," as quoted by The Daily California.

Due to this incident, the University placed Choudhry to have an indefinite leave until the case is being processed. With his final decision, Choudhry resigned as Dean on March 10.

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