A partial mistrial was declared last week in Wagner v. Jones, the case involving Teresa Wagner, an outspoken pro-life advocate and the associate director of the University of Iowa College of Law’s Writing Resource Center. Wagner sued her employer and dean alleging that she was passed over for a tenured faculty position on account of her political views.
As my colleague Andrew Kloster wrote last December, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit previously held that University of Iowa College of Law administrators were not entitled to qualified immunity and thus could be found liable for discriminating against Wagner due to her political views if the claims could be proven before a jury. Last week, the case was finally at trial on remand from the Eighth Circuit before a federal district court. After hearing all of the evidence and deliberating for nearly two and a half days, the jurors rejected Wagner’s first claim, concluding that her First Amendment rights were not violated. The jury was deadlocked on whether the law school violated her right to equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment, however, which resulted in a mistrial on that claim.
For more coverage of this development, check out Peter Schmidt’s article in The Chronicle of Higher Education and this piece by the Associated Press. As always, we’ll keep you posted on any further developments here on The Torch.