Professor wins lawsuit against administration

CALIFORNIA -- A federal judge ordered the administration of Irvine Valley Community College to pay a professor $126,000 in January for violating his free-speech rights by trying to censor his satirical newsletters.

The lawsuit came after Cedric Sampson, chancellor of the South Orange County Community College District, told philosophy professor Roy Bauer in December 1998 that his satirical newsletters, the Vine and the Dissent, were causing a hostile working environment. Sampson ordered Bauer to tone down the newsletters and attend anger-management classes. Bauer sued instead.

Bauer's newsletters, which consist of contributions from anonymous writers, are critical of Irvine Valley administrators, particularly President Raghu Mathur, whom Bauer often refers to as "Mr. Goo."

Some of the material in the newsletters was violent, which Sampson said could cause hostility in the workplace. In one of the articles, the writer discussed the desire to drop "a two-ton slab of polished granite" on Mathur's head.

"No reasonable person could have concluded that the written words of Bauer constituted a serious expression of an intent to harm or assault," Judge Gary A. Feess said in his decision.

Bauer is not a novice to lawsuits -- in previous years he has filed and won two lawsuits against the district.

"Naturally the board was not pleased with my legal victories," Bauer said. "This, I believe, plus the embarrassment caused by the newsletters, was the reason for Sampson's action in December of 1998."

Sampson did not return repeated phone calls made to his office by the Report.

This was not Bauer's last legal victory. President Mathur filed a lawsuit in January against Bauer, claiming invasion of privacy. Mathur accused Bauer of publishing documents that came from his personnel file. A judge threw out the case on March 1.

"My colleagues are very pleased that I was victorious," Bauer said.

reports, Spring 2000