State supreme court to re-hear Tatro case

A justice recused himself two weeks after the original oral arguments.

Katherine Lymn

The Amanda Tatro Facebook court case is getting another round at the Minnesota Supreme Court because a justice recused himself because of Univeristy of Minnesota ties.

Associate Justice Paul Anderson wrote in his recusal that because he donates to the University of Minnesota’s Law School and teaches a course there, his impartiality may be questioned. He also recused himself from the upcoming Jimmy Williams case. That makes him the fourth justice to recuse from both cases because of University ties — three other justices recused themselves from the Williams case and the Tatro case before oral arguments.

“I regret that my willingness to donate personal funds to the law school and to volunteer my time to annually teach one seminar may be
construed to have created such a perception” of impartiality, Anderson wrote.

In 2009, Tatro posted a series of status updates on her Facebook profile about the cadaver she operated on in embalming lab. At the original oral arguments, University General Counsel Mark Rotenberg argued that schools like the University need the right to discipline students who don’t follow procedure. Groups like the American Board of Funeral Service Education supported the University, saying it’s vital to industries like its own that students be held to professional standards.

The case is expected to get its second turn at the Supreme Court on April 5, according to a Student Press Law Center blog. The court appointed a retired justice, Esther Tomljanovich, to replace Anderson. The court offered the two sides the chance to re-argue the case in case they thought it was necessary with the new justice, and Tatro’s lawyer, Jordan Kushner, took the chance, according to the SPLC.

 

Kushner argued that by imposing a failing grade, a psychatric evaulation and other sanctions on Tatro, the University violated her First Amendment rights.