The U.S. Supreme Court will not hear the case of a Bowdoin graduate who sued in federal court over a 1999 Judicial Board decision, the court said in an order issued earlier this month.
The court denied a petition by George Goodman '00 for a writ of certiorari. Had at least four of nine justices voted to approve a writ of certiorari, the case would have been scheduled for briefing and argument. Since the court denied Goodman's petition, his case is essentially dead.
Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs Scott Hood called the court's decision a "vindication" of "the process that the College used to adjudicate the case."
"We have a process that works," he said.
Goodman's attorney did not answer a request for comment.
According to facts established in previous trials, Goodman threw a snowball at a shuttle driven by Namsoo Lee '01 in March 1999. Lee confronted Goodman, and the two become involved in a fight. Lee bled extensively and was treated for a broken nose at Parkview Hospital.
The College held disciplinary proceedings against Goodman and Lee in May 1999. Lee was cleared of all charges, but the Judicial Board recommended that Goodman be "immediately and permanently expelled." Dean of Student Affairs Craig Bradley accepted the board's findings but altered the sanction to "indefinite dismissal." The Administrative Committee heard an appeal and affirmed Bradley's decision. Two years later, Goodman sought and received readmission to the College.
After the Administrative Committee's decision, Goodman filed a complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission, Hood said. No action was taken by the body, and Goodman sued the College for breach of contract, "tortuous interference" with Judicial Board procedures, and negligence in training shuttle drivers. Goodman also alleged the Judicial Board discriminated against him because he was white and Lee was "Asian and a citizen of Korea." The case was heard in a Portland federal court in February 2002 and named a number of administrators as defendants.
The College prevailed on all charges and Goodman appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston. In a lengthy decision published in August 2004, the court said the case "began with a snowball and culminated in a jury trial." It affirmed the lower court's decision.
The Supreme Court's denial of the certiorari petition was released in a batch of orders issued on January 10. In such orders, the court does not explain its reasoning. As the court is the highest body in the judicial system, the case can go no further in the federal system.
The case could have been expensive for the College, but an insurance company paid the legal bills throughout the process. The College chose not to settle early in the process because it wanted to back-up its disciplinary system, officials said.
"The most important thing is that there was a principle to uphold," Hood said.