As reported on the Law School Transparency web site, "Karen Grant, A former assistant career services director at Thomas Jefferson School of Law has admitted to padding the school's 2006 graduate employment data to include unemployed graduates who had been employed at any time since graduation. Grant alleges that her fraud was part of a deliberate scheme by the law school’s administration to inflate its employment statistics." This statement comes in one of the class action suits filed by law school graduates against their former law schools for deceptive consumer information.
This is the first time in any of the class action suits filed by former students against their law schools, that an internal school witness has testified to personally falsifying employment data that the school reported and that prospective students relied on. There was a recent case in which the ABA officially sanctioned the U of I law school for the admitted falsification of admission statistics submitted to the ABA. But this case was apparently the result of the conduct of a "rogue employee" and was handled administratively through ABA procedures.
Grant's testimony provides much more substantive evidence in this case, than the allegations of misrepresentation, deception or fraud that previous cases have relied on, and been dismissed. It changes this case from a consumer law suit, to one of conscious fraud on the part of law school employees.
While dealing with this kind of internal testimony will be difficult enough for the Thomas Jefferson School of Law administrators. They may be digging themselves into an even deeper legal hole by apparently committing several violations of the standards for the discovery of elecronically stored evidence.
The plaintiff attorneys have filed a motion for sanctions for administrators spoliation of evidence and abuse of the discovery process. The computer forensics firm, e-Stet, that the plaintiffs hired to review the defendant's document productions, found what it regarded as glaring violations :
• Defendant produced Excel flies containing Defendant’s employment data that appear to have been authored and/or modified by a paralegal al Paul P1ev in, which should never be the case;
• Defendant produced PDF. CSV and MS Word files that were created after this litigation
commenced as if they were original documents that existed before the litigation;
• Defendant produced more than a dozen XIS files that were created on the same date at the same second in 2006 and in 2009 by the same author (e-Stet concluded this was not possible and that the metadata is inaccurate): and
"Although Defendant claims that it was producing identical Excel files all along, it produced ingredient MS Word files for the first time on August 6,2012, eight months after serving its initial production. Moreover, e-Stet has never witnessed a party to litigation converting XLS files into CSV format prior to a document production; nor has e-Stet ever seen the name of outside counsel reflected in the metadata as the author of a client’s internal documents."
To most observers, it would seem incredible that this kind of pre-trial behavior could be possible with the involvement of the General Counsel at the school. If these allegations regarding the very flawed discovery behavior of the law school, are accurate, the trial of the case could be jeopardized by missing and manipulated evidence. However, severe sanctions by the court are likely for possible violations of the California Code of Civil Procedure for abuse of the discovery process.
THOMAS JEFFERSON SCHOOL OF LAW response In Opposition to Plaintiffs ’ Motion For Sanctions