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March 10, 2018


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It's a state school so why didn't you throw in a 1983 count for gender discrimination and for first amendment issues arising from the negative reaction to her article? I guess you can do that later.

Anyway, it confirms my own experience, which is that lower ranked schools are actually hostile to scholarship. It generates tremendous envy. That is likely at the root of this.

David Frakt

ChicagoD -
So, first we are trying to get the Court to force the University to forward the tenure application to the Board of Regents. Although the President could forward it and recommend denial, he would have to provide written reasons for doing so, and I don't think there are any merit-based/tenure standards-based reasons that he could give, so I am hopeful that if the Court tells the University that they have to process the application, they will do the right thing and recommend her. Even if he doesn't, there is a chance that the Board of Regents will follow the strong recommendations of the Law School Tenure Committee and the Dean over the President's recommendation. But you are quite right. If she is ultimately denied tenure on the merits, we will be raising these other issues. One other interesting fact is that there are two other law school associate professors up for tenure this year, both white males who started their career at USD as assistant profs, were promoted to associate after three years, and are in their third year as associates and sixth overall. While both of these professors may very well also meet the standards for tenure, Myanna's overall record is far superior to theirs. So, if they are granted tenure, and she is denied, I think we will have an extremely strong case for gender discrimination.

Deep State Special Legal Counsel

Professor, with a new PAID membership to the NRA, you will receive a FREE bonus gift---the NRA Rosewood Handle Pocketknife, a personalized NRA membership card, Your choice of one of NRA's award-winning magazines (American Hunter as a show of good faith), member ACTION ALERTS, invitations to exciting "Friends of NRA" events in your area, FREE admission to NRA's Guns, Gear and Outfitter show and NRA 5-STAR BENEFITS. All for a discount membership of $30.00. You are on your way to tenure...


Is this professor a member of the SD Bar? Has she ever tried a case? Seen the inside of a courtroom? Does she offer to represent community members with their legal problems? Is she even a member of the community? She seems young and unseasoned to become a tenured professor. No question that she is academically gifted but this is a school that needs to pump out public defenders, prosecutors, small firm generalists, government lawyers...much different than a policy school like Harvard or Yale.


I find it absolutely disgusting that you use your position on this blog to put pressure on those who are at odds with your clients. You need to be reported to the bar. I am most sympathetic to her, but your conduct is outrageous.


AnonProf, how on earth is this any different from any other lawyer making public statements arguing for his client?


Alas, I think AnonProf might have the better argument, but, before deciding how I would vote on this issue: AnonProf, what is your authority for the notion that there is anything to "report to the State Bar"? What violation do you claim has occurred?

Deep State Special Legal Counsel

Everybody, just relax. Bar beefs are for serious violations, bordering on criminal. This is one of the most interesting posts I have read on this blog. It is a real learning experience and it intersects with nearly all of the hot button political issues of today.

There is no lawyer defalcation, sleeping with clients, lying to a tribunal or substance misuse. There is nothing here.

Fiji 007

This story is truly a disgrace to legal academia and academia in general. Here's a hard-working woman in a man's part of the world, trying her hardest to do all she can to make the students pass the bar, publish scholarship that actually is ahead of the curve, and provide service to native Americans (Standing Rock) and other locals in the area, the local town, etc. A beloved member of the faculty by colleagues and students. She puts the law school and indeed USD on the map like few have in years. What does she get out of it? A bizarre attempt to strip her of her title and have her start over her tenure track in, uhm, South Dakota?! For no reason other than a President saying, basically, that he "doesn't feel like" granting her tenure?! This is a public school, administering local tax payer dollars, not a private company that can do what they want! No man would ever have expected that treatment! Think about what this does for her family and career too. And she is not even getting a pay raise out of this! Sick.


Anonprof -
You have a very strong opinion about this post, but you don't seem to know much about litigation. It is a time-honored tradition, and perfectly appropriate and ethical for an attorney to use the media to bring public attention to his or her client's case or dispute, to try to inform the public about an injustice being done to his or her client, to try to shape the narrative of a developing story, and to try to bring pressure on the opposing party to do the right thing. So, there is nothing outrageous or even close to unethical about writing a story about his client's case. As for Mr. Frakt's use of his position as a guest blogger to post the story here, I see nothing wrong with that either. Mr. Frakt writes frequently about legal education and topics of interest to law professors (unlike some of the other bloggers on this website) on The Faculty Lounge, and this story certainly is in that category. And many bloggers on this website write about their own work. I agree, perhaps for the first time ever, with Deep State Legal Counsel, that this is a very interesting story and there is no basis for a bar complaint here.

David Frakt

Anon -

To answer some of your questions. Yes, Myanna is a member of the South Dakota bar. All the Professors at USD Law School are granted bar membership. And yes, she is a member of the community. She has a home in Vermillion and is active in community and University affairs. And yes, she has been in a courtroom before (two separate clerkships) and no, she has not tried a case before, which is why she hired me. The standards for tenure relate to scholarship/research, teaching, and service and those have been her focus at USD. By the way, despite Myanna's youthful appearance, she is hardly "young and unseasoned". This is her eighth year of teaching at an ABA accredited law school and law is her second career. She had nearly two decades of other experience before she went to law school. And all of this information (and much more) is available in the linked materials for those who are interested in learning more about Professor Dellinger and not just offering uninformed opinions.

Funny Bunny

This case is gobsmacking to me. We have a professor identified as exceptionally qualified by the Law School's Dean, and a university administration that appears to have one individual with a vendetta for no apparent reason. If the actual reason for seeking to scupper Professor Dellinger's tenure application is her piece on trophy hunting, that's really disconcerting. The university should be seeking to expose students to a range of perspectives, to help foster critical thinking. Moreover, Professor Dellinger's unique career can help to expose students at USD to potential alternative paths for using their degrees. This strikes me as a palpable case of violation of due process that will not end well for either the university of the law students at USD.


The comment that Prof. Dellinger is "young and unseasoned" is the exact type of pernicious coded language of sexism that justifies academic protection in the first place. Even a brief review of her webpage, which includes graduation dates, shows that these claims are dead wrong.

Prof. Dellinger apparently had a career prior to law school, has taught on two continents, and has two prestigious clerkships. In addition to all that, she has taught law full-time for eight years.

In what world does that level of experience render someone "unseasoned"? In what world does any sane university administrator put artificial barriers in the way of a seasoned academic who apparently enjoys universal support from faculty and students?

Only a world where the vicious biases of sexism trump logic and reality.

Madame Tussaud

Myanna, Sending support from the academy. I'm sorry you're going through this and I will donate to your GoFundMe campaign.


Myanna's situation is Exhibit A of the importance of tenure. A well-respected professor publishes an article on an issue of public importance. Her article offends locally powerful people and suddenly her career in in jeopardy. I am shocked and dismayed at the South Dakota Administration's arbitrary and capricious behavior.

David Frakt

SEE UPDATE IN MAIN POST - The Provost has informed Professor Dellinger that he will now continue processing her tenure application so she will receive consideration on the merits. Accordingly, I have dismissed the Motion for Declaratory Judgment as the relief we sought has been granted voluntarily. Thank you all for your support.

Deep State Special Legal Counsel

When she obtains tenure, advise her to use her legal skills to fight DAPL and Stand with Standing Rock. Maybe that was the concern all along...

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