In a groundbreaking move that may resonate with anyone concerned about due process on American campuses, the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals recently reinstated Darold Palmore’s lawsuit against his former college. Palmore, an aspiring law student, served 16 months in prison for a charge of which a second jury acquitted him — in just 29 minutes. The court’s decision underscores glaring concerns about balancing campus safety and preserving constitutional rights.
Palmore filed his lawsuit against Clarion University, now known as Pennsylvania Western University or PennWest Clarion, alleging malicious prosecution, due process violations, Title IX, negligence and breach of contract. All these claims will now proceed for further deliberation. A trial judge had previously dismissed most of Palmore’s case, citing statute of limitations issues. However, in a unanimous decision, the appeals court said the judge had botched the timeline “more than three years off” for some of the claims.
Appeals court reinstates wrongly imprisoned student's lawsuit against college for hiding evidence | Just The News https://t.co/b8K9atbfjy
— John Solomon (@jsolomonReports) September 10, 2023
This case provides an eye-opener about the challenges facing young men, especially those of color, on college campuses today. Brooklyn College professor KC Johnson, who closely tracks Title IX litigation, noted that blacks comprised just 6% of Clarion’s student body but constituted a significant portion of the respondents to claims of serious misconduct. As Palmore put it, his journey through the legal system represents “the good fight” for others who can’t afford representation.
Adding to the intrigue, Palmore has represented himself throughout the civil case, albeit with some guidance from sympathetic lawyers. For him, that’s a double-edged sword. As he told Just the News, the remand means he’ll have to quit his current job with an Amazon warehouse contractor to focus on his lawsuit. With his name associated with two criminal trials, finding employment wasn’t easy.
What’s striking is how the college and law enforcement handled the evidence. Campus police officers promised to withhold potentially exonerating security footage, according to Palmore. The first jury never saw this evidence, but the second did, resulting in his quick acquittal.
The concern here isn’t merely about one individual; it’s about a system that often seems skewed against accused students. Palmore had to choose between defending himself in a Title IX proceeding without proper representation or risking self-incrimination in criminal court. These are the very practices that the Trump administration sought to eliminate, emphasizing due process in Title IX investigations. On the other hand, the Biden administration is inclined to revert to Obama-era guidelines that forced colleges into kangaroo court scenarios.
While the 3rd Circuit’s decision is a win for Palmore, it also underscores the broader conversation about justice, fairness, and accountability within American educational institutions. One can’t help but ask: How many more Darold Palmores are out there?