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September 2, 2014

Law professor files discrimination suit against William Mitchell

A St. Paul law professor is claiming William Mitchell College of Law and its dean discriminated against him because of his mental illness.

Minnesota Public Radio reports Peter Erlinder, a well-known professor and activist, filed a lawsuit in federal court that alleges he was banned from campus in 2012 because the college claimed he posed a threat to Dean Eric S. Janus.

Erlinder suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after being held in a Rwandan prison for three weeks in 2010.

Citing medical experts’ opinions, Erlinder’s attorney, Peter Nickitas, says his client is not a threat.

“He brought certifications from two health care providers, his psychologist and psychiatrist that he’s capable of being a professor and he is not dangerous to anybody and never was,” Nickitas told the Star Tribune.

The college’s attorneys responded to the lawsuit, describing Erlinder’s behavior as “erratic, disruptive, and intimidating” and said the professor had sent unprofessional emails to fellow employees that threatened retaliation after he was escorted off campus, the Star Tribune reports.

Erlinder taught at William Mitchell for 30 years before being placed on a leave of absence in January 2012.

The New York Times reported Erlinder visited in Rwanda to represent Victoire Ingabire, a leading opposition politician who was trying to run for president but was charged with supporting genocide ideology. Erlinder was also charged for allegedly denying the country’s genocide, but was later released on bail.

The professor has since denied the claim.