Take Care, Ian Samuel (Updated)

We had the occasional exchange on the twitters while he was a lecturer at Harvard Law School, including these when he was promoting court-packing the Supremes. Ian Samuel was about as much of a social justice poster boy as there could be, smugly self-righteous of his tribe and not reluctant to be disdainful, if not attack, the unwoke. We did not, for the most part, see eye to eye.

But when one of his gigs, First Mondays, a podcast about the Supreme Court, twitted about him, I was concerned.

Announcement: Until further notice, Ian Samuel will be on a leave of absence from First Mondays while he tends to personal and family issues. In the meantime, Leah Litman will step up to serve as co-host and co-manager with Dan Epps. The weekly episodes will keep rolling!

Despite our disagreements, it’s always concerning to hear of someone having “personal and family issues” of the magnitude that would prevent him from doing something like this. I wish no one ill, and certainly no one harm, and take no joy from someone suffering issues, no matter how much we may disagree.

But the plot quickly thickened. Ian left Harvard and began teaching at Indiana University law school. This was his first semester as a prawf, and this announcement, this action, was quite extreme.

Indiana University has opened a Title IX investigation involving an associate professor of law.

In a statement, University Spokesperson Chuck Carney says the university cannot comment on details of the personnel matter.

“We take these processes very seriously and will determine the facts in the case,” Carney says.

Confirmation of the investigation comes after IU’s Maurer School of Law sent an email to students in Associate Professor Ian Samuel’s civil procedure course outlining changes to an exam planned for Friday.

It appears the First Mondays announcement was not only misleading, but that they had immediately thrown Ian under the bus. Removing Ian from the classroom immediately suggests a determination that he posed a potential Title IX threat, even if it’s hard to conceive how he could do harm to anyone via a podcast.

There is no information available about what accusations were leveled. I hesitate to suggest any, even though the implications seem fairly obvious. The point is that whatever the accusations might be, they are only accusations. Yet, he’s been unceremoniously removed from his podcast* and his classroom. Even if the latter could be explained as an excess of caution, the former cannot. It can be explained, of course, but neither rationally nor fairly.

It seems hard to imagine that Ian Samuel did anything to anyone to justify either the accusations or immediate reaction. There’s never been a suggestion that he was less than sincere about his politics, even if they’re extreme. But then, one never really knows what goes on with other people. Still, he remains entitled to the presumption of innocence, even if he wouldn’t be as generous with others.

Without more information, announcements like this give rise to the worst case speculation. It may be so, or far, far less significant. Regardless, it is critically important that Ian be provided due process and the opportunity to defend himself from accusations. It is irrelevant whether he would have argued against due process for others, whether he would have denied some other prawf, some other male student, the opportunity to do what should be afforded Ian now.

There is a tendency at times like this to indulge in the ugliness of Schadenfreude. I will resist it, and so should you. Regardless of whether Ian would support another man’s due process, he is still entitled to it, and I will still support his ability to fairly defend himself from accusations of misconduct, whatever they may be.

Maybe being the target of Title IX accusations will serve to change his mind. Maybe not. Regardless, I wish Ian Samuel the best, presume him to be innocent and support his ability to fully and fairly defend himself from the accusations, whatever they may be.

Everyone deserves this, including Ian Samuel. And it’s an ironic shame that the woke First Mondays podcast saw fit to jettison him upon mere accusations rather than support the constitutional rights of one of their own.

Update 12/2/18: As one might expect, quite a bit of information has come out over the past day. An email has issued to students at the law school that Ian has “voluntarily” checked himself into the hospital. What this has to do with hospitalization remains a mystery, as does whether it’s accurate at all, and whether it was voluntary (alcoholism?) or not, or perhaps tactical.

Dear Students,

It is likely that you may see news reports this weekend about Prof. Ian Samuel, reporting that the university has opened a Title IX investigation.  I am not able to comment on those news reports, but I wanted you to hear from me before you heard from others. The university is handling the matter centrally, and we are taking direction from IU administration. We take Title IX allegations extremely seriously, and the University will conduct a full investigation and follow their process.

Prof. Samuel and his wife, Shannon, have indicated that earlier this week he voluntarily admitted himself to the hospital.  We notified Prof. Samuel’s students that Prof. Geyh and I would be writing and grading his Civil Procedure exams after learning of that hospitalization.

Austen Parrish

An anon student twitter account has claimed that the underlying accusation is that “Multiple (more that 10) students came forward and reported incidents of Samuel groping them at a local bar.” A Maurer student (who has asked that his identity be kept confidential) who was present in the bar disputes this, saying that there were ten people in the bar, not ten students groped.

And First Mondays issued an additional statement.

Ian has also come under attack based on heretofore unmentioned allegations which suddenly appeared about his time at Harvard, and the usual accusers and mindless sycophants, as the mob turns against him. Even the podcast has come under attack, which may (or may not) have anything to do with the second statement.

Title IX complaints don’t necessarily have to be about sexual misconduct. They can also be about other forms of sex discrimination. And really, you can’t figure out how a podcast could further sex discrimination.


What this is supposed to mean eludes me, but it appears that this is going to get a lot uglier and people will be coming out of the woodwork to pile on vague accusations and baseless innuendo.

  • As Jonathan Adler correctly noted on twitter, it may well be that Ian made the voluntary choice not to participate in the podcast and he wasn’t removed. I was wrong to assume.

15 thoughts on “Take Care, Ian Samuel (Updated)

  1. Richard Kopf

    SHG, a horrible person like me might even extend the presumption of innocence to Trump. Alas, I suppose that goes too far.*

    All the best.


    * It is times like this that I remember Kafka and “Der Process” (the title of his famous book in the original German.)

    1. SHG Post author

      It reminds me of the old joke (not that there are too many of us who still enjoy old jokes), a conservative is a liberal with a mortgage and a liberal is a conservative under indictment. Am I still allowed to tell that joke? Beats me.

  2. Scott Jacobs

    We don’t know what he’s accused of, and it is very possible given so many Title IX policies that Ian doesn’t know either.

  3. SJW 3

    Holy crap!

    You actually admitted being wrong on Twitter?
    Is that even allowed?

    Having principles, that’s so so … Reactionary.

  4. Alasdair

    Saying “he remains entitled to the presumption of innocence, even if he wouldn’t be as generous with others” strongly implies that Ian has failed to extend the presumption of innocence to others.

    Has Ian ever done so? I do not recall him arguing that Kavanaugh should be assumed guilty, for example. Nor do I recall him ever assuming the guilt of one of his political opponents who had been accused of misconduct. He may well have done so—I’ve only listened to First Mondays, not read or heard everything Ian’s written or said—but it would be well to point to an instance of it in a post that repeatedly implies that Ian rejects due process when convenient.

    1. SHG Post author

      Defensive people will pull out a line that touches a nerve, shove in some weasel words like “strongly implies,” and then demand proof of it, while leaving himself a back door like “He may well have done so—I’ve only listened to First Mondays, not read or heard everything Ian’s written or said” so if his complaint is shown to be bullshit, he’s got a built-in excuse. Are you defensive?

      This isn’t a law review article with every sentence footnoted. This is a blog post, and that wasn’t the point of the post. Feel free to read his twitstream if think the “implication” is mistaken and show your evidence. I’ve linked to it in the post for the convenience of lazy defensive people.

      1. Alasdair

        I’m sorry that my comment came off as defensive. On rereading, I agree that’s how it sounds; I should have worded it better. It was, however, a genuine request for information. I didn’t recall Ian ever ignoring the presumption of innocence, so I was wondering if you did. But you’re right: I can easily look into the question myself and I should have done so. I hope you’ll accept my apologies.

        1. SHG Post author

          A prawf friend of mine had done so in advance of my writing this post. Aside from Ian’s general social justice tendencies, he’s been all over the place on the issue of sexual assault, occasionally taking the “believe the woman” position and other times speaking to due process rights. I don’t know what, if any, actual position he takes, which is why I framed it as a possibility rather than a certainty.

          Apology accepted.

          1. MarinEric

            SHG, you seem to be assuming that “believe the woman” and due process rights are mutually exclusive — or at least on opposite sides of a teeter-totter. I just don’t see things that way.

            1. SHG Post author

              Some people refer to “believe the woman” as an admonition to take complaints seriously. Others refer to it as a shifting of the burden of proof from the accuser to the accused. My position is believe the facts and the burden of proof is always on the accuser. I hope that clarifies whatever it is you’re asking, since “I don’t see it that way” isn’t particularly informative.

  5. EG

    Of course, the investigations against Samuel are very serious.
    However, I’d like to note that he has been away from the show for some time due to the birth of his son, who was born seven weeks early.

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