19th February 2013
Usually, public college administrators who blatantly violate the Constitution and due process rights get off scot-free even when they lose, as their employers (read: the taxpayers) get stuck with the bill for their transgressions. The thin reed of reason on which this “qualified immunity” rests is that administrators supposedly didn’t know that their actions were unconstitutional when they took them. (Yes, that’s pretty farfetched in most of the case FIRE sees, but courts tend to buy it.)
Zaccari appealed this finding, and it went all the way to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, where Zaccari lost. When the appeals were finished and the case came before a jury, the jig was up: Zaccari personally owes Barnes $50,000—and the court has not even assessed attorneys’ fees yet.
A step in the right direction, but I predict it won’t go beyond that single step. The Crust will take care of their own, and if a judge wanders in who refuses to get with the program, he (or she) will soon be replaced.