On Wednesday, during a hearing in the Kings County Supreme Court against the Brooklyn Law School by alumni who said they were duped by the school’s employment data, Justice David Schmidt declined to recuse himself from the case. The judge, who graduated from Brooklyn Law School in 1982, said he didn’t have “an ax to grind” against the law school, and that he maintained few ties with his alma mater. He said he did pay his class alumni dues “once in a while” and attended a recent 30th reunion. While the plaintiffs asked him to recuse himself from the case against Brooklyn Law School to avoid the appearance of personal bias, the law school vehemently disagreed and said it was premature to ask for recusal.
While the plaintiffs have claimed that misleading employment data published by Brooklyn law School misled them into spending tens of thousands of dollars for a degree which so far had turned out to be worthless, Brooklyn law refuted the claims. The law school said that the statements it had published were neither fraudulent nor misleading and that the statistics about the jobs of some graduates were not promises of legal employment for all students.
The New York Code of Judicial Conduct says that recusal is up to the individual judge, who must consider how his decision may affect the appearance of fairness and impartiality. However, Judge Schimdt said on the question of remaining on the case: “I don’t see the problem with it.” He scheduled the Brooklyn Law School’s motion to dismiss the case on Aug. 21 for oral arguments.
Acting Supreme Court Justice Melvin Scheweitzer in Manhattan has dismissed similar claims against the New York Law School, though the plaintiffs have filed an appeal, which is pending.
The Brooklyn case is Bevelacqua v. Brooklyn Law School, New York Supreme Court, Kings County, No. 500175/2012.