Conservative scholar denied new trial in lawsuit
DES MOINES (AP) — A conservative scholar who sued a University of Iowa law school dean, saying she was denied promotions because of her political orientation, will not get a new trial.
Teresa Wagner, 48, had sought another trial after a federal jury found in October that the university did not discriminate against her. A mistrial was declared on a second count alleging the school had violated Wagner’s equal protection rights. A third count charging that Wagner’s due process rights had been violated was dismissed before the trial.
Wagner sought retrial on all counts.
Her lawyers asserted that the judge accepted the verdict without allowing attorneys to be present. That, they said, denied them the right to poll the jury, a process that helps determine if jurors were unduly pressured to render a verdict after lengthy deliberations.
On Friday, U.S. District Judge Robert Pratt issued a ruling rejecting Wagner’s arguments and denying a new trial, The Des Moines Register reported. The judge also granted the law school defendants’ motion to dismiss the count that the school had violated Wagner’s equal protection rights.
Following the October trial, members of the jury said they believed the law school had denied Wagner a promotion because of her politics, but did not rule in the woman’s favor because they were split on whether the school’s former dean — whom Wagner named in the lawsuit — could be held responsible.
Wagner was a part-time employee of the law school’s writing center and appeared on track to get a full-time position teaching legal writing and analysis to first-year law students in 2007. But the faculty voted to hire a less-qualified candidate who had to resign within a year for poor performance, did not fill the other job, and then refused to consider Wagner for similar jobs that came open later.
Wagner filed the lawsuit contending the 50-member faculty — which included 46 Democrats — blocked her appointment because they knew she was a Republican who had worked for two anti-abortion groups, the National Right to Life Committee and the Family Research Council.