34 F.3d 432 (7th Cir. 1994), 93-3137, Smart v. Board of Trustees of University of Illinois

Docket Nº:93-3137, 93-3176.
Citation:34 F.3d 432
Party Name:Winston I. SMART, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF the UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS, et al., Defendants-Appellees.
Case Date:August 29, 1994
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
 
FREE EXCERPT

Page 432

34 F.3d 432 (7th Cir. 1994)

Winston I. SMART, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF the UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS, et al.,

Defendants-Appellees.

Nos. 93-3137, 93-3176.

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

August 29, 1994

Submitted July 14, 1994.

Page 433

Winston I. Smart, pro se.

Steven C. Daily, John L. Conlon, Greenberger, Krauss & Tennenbaum, Chicago, IL, and Charles Palmer, Flynn, Palmer, Tague & Lietz, Champaign, IL, for defendants-appellees.

Before POSNER, Chief Judge, and EASTERBROOK and KANNE, Circuit Judges.

POSNER, Chief Judge.

The plaintiff has appealed from the denial of his motion for a preliminary injunction that would if granted have prevented the University of Illinois from funding a suit for defamation that has been brought against him by several professors employed by the university. That suit, a diversity suit pending in the same district court, was stayed on the eve of trial to await the outcome of the appeal in the present suit, which was brought under 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983 and charges that the university--a state agency, Kroll v. Board of Trustees, 934 F.2d 904 (7th Cir.1991)--by funding the defamation suit of its professors has infringed the plaintiff's freedom of speech.

The plaintiff, Smart, is a black lawyer who applied for a position with the university as an assistant professor of agricultural law and was turned down in favor of a white, Purnell. Smart responded to this disappointment by launching a nationwide mail campaign against the university and the professors whom he considered responsible for his rejection. He prepared an affidavit charging racial discrimination and fraud and mailed more than 1,500 copies to public officials, lawyers and others involved in agricultural law, the news media, bar organizations, and other individuals and groups. Among the particulars of the charge is that Professor Grossman, co-chairman of the search committee that had recommended Purnell over him, had altered Purnell's law school transcript by changing two F's to passing grades, in order to make Purnell look better. These accusations precipitated the suit for defamation by Purnell, Grossman, and others. The university is defraying the plaintiffs' legal

Page 434

expenses. Originally a plaintiff itself, later it voluntarily dismissed its claim.

Smart argues that by funding the suit for defamation the university is penalizing him for having exercised his right of free speech in accusing the university of fraud and discrimination. He does not live in Illinois, and he claims to have no resources with which to defend himself against the suit. He claims that his health will be endangered if he has to defend himself, and this is one of the grounds on which he argues that he will be harmed irreparably unless he gets a preliminary injunction.

We do not think the district judge abused his discretion in denying the motion for a preliminary injunction. This is so even though the idea behind Mr. Smart's suit...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP