Davis v. Halpern, No. CV-85-2052.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
Writing for the CourtClement Colucci, Asst. Atty. Gen., New York City, for defendants
Citation768 F. Supp. 968
Docket NumberNo. CV-85-2052.
Decision Date05 June 1991
PartiesDavid DAVIS, Plaintiff, v. Charles HALPERN, et al., Defendants.

768 F. Supp. 968

David DAVIS, Plaintiff,
v.
Charles HALPERN, et al., Defendants.

No. CV-85-2052.

United States District Court, E.D. New York.

June 5, 1991.


768 F. Supp. 969
COPYRIGHT MATERIAL OMITTED
768 F. Supp. 970
David Davis, pro se

Clement Colucci, Asst. Atty. Gen., New York City, for defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

GLASSER, District Judge:

Plaintiff David Davis, a white male, has applied for admission to and has been rejected from the City University of New York ("CUNY") Law School at Queens College every year since 1983 when the school opened. He initiated this lawsuit in 1985 against various officials of the law school, the City University of New York, and the State University of New York in their individual and official capacities alleging violations of the Fourteenth Amendment, Title VI of the Civil Rights act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d, et seq., and of 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1985 seeking damages and injunctive relief. Since that time he has supplemented his complaint with some 18 additional defendants and claims of race, sex, and religious discrimination under 42 U.S.C. § 1981, 20 U.S.C. § 1681 prohibiting sex discrimination in education programs receiving federal financial assistance, and New York Education Law § 313 prohibiting discrimination in admission of applicants to educational institutions. The defendants include Charles Halpern, in his official and individual capacities as Dean of CUNY Law School; John Farago in his official and individual capacities as Assistant Dean of the law school; Joseph Murphy in his official and individual capacities as Chancellor of the City University of New York; Gordon Ambach in his official capacity as Chancellor of the State University of New York and as Commissioner of Education of the State of New York; James P. Murphy in his official and individual capacities as Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the City University of New York; Haywood Burns in his official and individual capacities as Dean of the law school; Carlton Clark in his official and individual capacities as Director of Admissions of the law school; and various other individuals who are primarily past members of the admissions committees who rejected plaintiff's applications. Mr. Davis contends that defendants discriminated against him by favoring less qualified non-white, non-Jewish, and female applicants for admission through the use of a quota system, and that they rejected him in retaliation for bringing this and two prior state actions to obtain relief from this discrimination.

In 1987 this court rejected defendants' motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. While defendants urged the court that their admissions policy did not utilize a quota system for women or minorities and fully complied with the requirements of Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, 438 U.S. 265, 98 S.Ct. 2733, 57 L.Ed.2d 750 (1978), this court ruled that

768 F. Supp. 971
plaintiff's allegations were sufficient to state a claim, and that a Rule 12(b)(6) motion did not afford the court the opportunity to consider evidence regarding the actual operation of the admissions process

Now, more than three years later and after extensive discovery by plaintiff, defendants return with this motion for summary judgment. For the reasons stated below, it is denied in part and granted in part.

FACTS

The doors of the City University of New York Law School at Queens College opened in September. 1983. Its founders sought then and continue to seek today an integration of the best that "traditional" legal education has to offer with "an expansive view of the function of law and lawyers in our current society." 1990-1991 CUNY Law School Catalogue, at 7 hereinafter "Catalogue". The curriculum has been designed to address the limitations of traditional legal education, whose "emphasis on private law, litigation, and on transactions between individuals can distort students' views of what law is and does in today's world ...," id., and to utilize theory and practice which can "enhance our ability to provide students with the tools they need to best practice law in the service of human needs." Id.

Plaintiff's interest in CUNY Law School dates to its first semester, and was apparently due at least in part to its "public interest" orientation, state-subsidized tuition, and location near his home in New York City. While he says that he's "no scholar," he feels with great earnestness that his undergraduate grade point average ("UGPA") of 3.02, out of a possible 4.00, and his Law School Achievement Test ("LSAT") scores ranging from 17 to 25, out of a possible 48, qualify him for admission and he has submitted an application for that year and every year thereafter.

The admissions process by which he was rejected, now eight times, is the subject of this lawsuit. Its mechanics are not complex. Each applicant is required to fill out an application, to write a personal statement, and to register with the Law School Data Assembly Service through which the Admissions Committee will receive undergraduate grades and LSAT scores. Applicants are evaluated by either two or three members of the Admissions Committee made up of faculty and students, who may vote to admit, reject, or wait-list. If two members vote to admit and none votes to reject, the applicant is offered a seat. Likewise, two votes to reject with no vote to admit causes a rejection. If two members are split between rejection and admission, the application goes to a third member whose tie-breaking vote is determinative.

The factors which the committee members are instructed to consider in evaluating applicants are closely related to the ideals of the law school as an institution of legal education. They are set out in the law school's Statement of Admissions Policy, which appears in the Catalogue, at 38, submitted by both plaintiff and defendants:

The mandate of the City University of New York Law School at Queens College to serve human needs through law affects our admission process as much as it affects our curriculum. We evaluate applicants according to four criteria.
First, we seek people who are able to complete the program successfully. Because the Law School's program is intensive and intellectually demanding, we look for demonstration of strong academic ability, including skill at analysis, problem solving, and research....
Second, we look for indications that the candidate has a special affinity for our particular program. Assessment of academic ability alone will not dominate the application process. We will try to assess some of the less tangible qualities that make an outstanding lawyer, including judgment, energy, initiative, and the ability to work both collaboratively and independently....
Third, we try to select a diverse group of students, genuinely representative of the remarkable diversity of the City the School serves. We address our mandate in part by seeking students who would
768 F. Supp. 972
otherwise be unable to attend law school, or who are members of populations that have traditionally been underserved by the law.
Finally, as an institution funded in large part by the taxpayers of the State of New York, we seek students who have some demonstrated connection to the State and, particularly, to the City. That connection may be manifested by residence, work experience, education experience, other service to the State and City, or a demonstrated special concern for the solution of urban problems.
Our experience has been that we receive many more qualified applicants than we accept. The admission process is therefore highly selective, and successful candidates are people who, in the opinion of the Admissions Committee, manifest unusual strength in more than one of these areas....

Especially relevant to the considerations of race and sex in the admissions process is the law school's affirmative action policy, which operates in accord with the admissions policy. That policy is set out in capital letters on the first substantive page of the Catalogue, and reads in its entirety:

THE FACULTY AND STAFF OF CUNY LAW SCHOOL AT QUEENS COLLEGE BELIEVE THAT WE HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO HELP CREATE A BAR THAT IS MORE DIVERSIFIED, AND MORE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE FULL RANGE OF PEOPLES THAT MAKE UP NEW YORK CITY AND THE UNITED STATES. ACCORDINGLY, WE ACTIVELY SEEK TO RECRUIT, EMPLOY, RETAIN, PROMOTE, AND TRAIN STUDENTS, FACULTY, AND STAFF OF ALL RACES, NATIONAL ORIGINS, CLASSES, AND BELIEF SYSTEMS, WITHOUT REGARD TO SEX OR SEXUAL PREFERENCE. THIS COMMITMENT IS REFLECTED IN ALL THAT WE DO, BEGINNING WITH OUR ADMISSIONS POLICIES: WE LOOK AT THE WHOLE APPLICANT IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE BROAD AND INCLUSIVE CRITERIA APPROVED BY THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK, DESCRIBED IN DETAIL ELSEWHERE IN THIS BROCHURE.

Questions regarding this policy should be referred to Acting Associate Dean Victor M. Goode, Affirmative Action Officer

Catalogue, at 3. The law school's Director of Admissions, Carlton Clark, in his affidavit dated October 12, 1990 in support of this motion, sheds further light on the use of racial criteria in the admissions process:

Because minorities and other groups are underrepresented in the legal profession and because of the diverse composition of New York City and State and the Law School's commitment to diversity in its student body, membership in underrepresented groups is one of several factors, such as GPA and LSAT scores, which Committee members may consider, in determining an applicant's request for admission.

Clark Aff., ¶ 19.

In addition to the Catalogue and the Clark affidavit, defendants' submissions in support of its motion include portions of plaintiff's deposition testimony in which he states the names of the law schools from which he has been rejected, describes his interviews with members of the law school Admissions Committee, and includes the following exchange:

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16 practice notes
  • Burrell v. City University of New York, No. 94 CIV. 8711(RWS).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • February 26, 1998
    ...without op., 999 F.2d 538 (2d Cir.1993); Scelsa v. City University of New York, 806 F.Supp. 1126, 1137 (S.D.N.Y.1992); Davis v. Halpern, 768 F.Supp. 968, 983-84 (E.D.N.Y.1991); Silver v. City University of New York, 767 F.Supp. 494, 499 (S.D.N.Y.1991); Ritzie v. City University of New York,......
  • Bliss v. Rochester City School Dist., Nos. 00-CV-6516L, 00-CV-6310L, 01-CV-6176L.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court of Western District of New York
    • March 28, 2002
    ...some support existed for the proposition that reverse racial discrimination is not actionable under § 1985(3) (see Davis v. Halpern, 768 F.Supp. 968, 983 (E.D.N.Y.1991) (describing as problematic a claim under § 1985(3) for reverse racial discrimination); Marsh v. Bd. of Educ. of the City o......
  • Ticali v. Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, No. 96-CV-4667 (ILG).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • March 24, 1999
    ...Corp., 7 F.3d 1085, 1087 (2d Cir.1993); Pisello v. Town of Brookhaven, 933 F.Supp. 202, 215 (E.D.N.Y.1996). But see Davis v. Halpern, 768 F.Supp. 968, 983 (E.D.N.Y.1991) (§ 1981 supports claim of reverse discrimination brought by white student). A non-minority plaintiff may only bring a § 1......
  • Scelsa v. City University of New York, No. 92 Civ. 6690 (CBM).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • November 18, 1992
    ...1221 (D.Kansas 1983). Title VI's scope encompasses those actions forbidden by the Equal Protection Clause. See, e.g. Davis v. Halpern, 768 F.Supp. 968, 974 "The two elements for establishing a cause of action pursuant to Title VI are (1) that the entity involved is engaging in racial or nat......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
16 cases
  • Burrell v. City University of New York, No. 94 CIV. 8711(RWS).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • February 26, 1998
    ...without op., 999 F.2d 538 (2d Cir.1993); Scelsa v. City University of New York, 806 F.Supp. 1126, 1137 (S.D.N.Y.1992); Davis v. Halpern, 768 F.Supp. 968, 983-84 (E.D.N.Y.1991); Silver v. City University of New York, 767 F.Supp. 494, 499 (S.D.N.Y.1991); Ritzie v. City University of New York,......
  • Bliss v. Rochester City School Dist., Nos. 00-CV-6516L, 00-CV-6310L, 01-CV-6176L.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court of Western District of New York
    • March 28, 2002
    ...some support existed for the proposition that reverse racial discrimination is not actionable under § 1985(3) (see Davis v. Halpern, 768 F.Supp. 968, 983 (E.D.N.Y.1991) (describing as problematic a claim under § 1985(3) for reverse racial discrimination); Marsh v. Bd. of Educ. of the City o......
  • Ticali v. Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, No. 96-CV-4667 (ILG).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • March 24, 1999
    ...Corp., 7 F.3d 1085, 1087 (2d Cir.1993); Pisello v. Town of Brookhaven, 933 F.Supp. 202, 215 (E.D.N.Y.1996). But see Davis v. Halpern, 768 F.Supp. 968, 983 (E.D.N.Y.1991) (§ 1981 supports claim of reverse discrimination brought by white student). A non-minority plaintiff may only bring a § 1......
  • Scelsa v. City University of New York, No. 92 Civ. 6690 (CBM).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • November 18, 1992
    ...1221 (D.Kansas 1983). Title VI's scope encompasses those actions forbidden by the Equal Protection Clause. See, e.g. Davis v. Halpern, 768 F.Supp. 968, 974 "The two elements for establishing a cause of action pursuant to Title VI are (1) that the entity involved is engaging in racial or nat......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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