The Globe U. trial and the national debate over for-profit schools

Halunen (halunenlaw.com)

Just a little note about an interesting dynamic in the whistleblower trial involving Globe University / Minnesota School of Business.

Having posted on the federal investigation into for-profit colleges multiple times, I wondered whether the national landscape would be a backdrop to the proceedings.

Or would the Globe case be discussed purely on its own?

In his opening arguments last week, attorney Clayton Halunen, who represents the dean fired by Globe University, seemed to make veiled references to the larger debate, referring to the school as a “diploma mill.”

But Globe attorney Matthew Damon cautioned jurors in his opening statements: Disregard references to for-profit schools in general. Globe should not be tarnished by what others may appear to be doing.

He told them Globe was different:

“Globe is not owned by Wall Street or by a private equity fund, but by a family in Minnesota for more than 40 years.”

Damon (nilanjohnson.com)

With perhaps a few exceptions, the case did seem confined to Globe.

But that changed at the end of the trial.

In his closing statements, Halunen urged the jury to award his client more than $30 million for her “emotional distress,” saying media coverage would cause for-profit colleges around the country to take notice.

“You have the power to change corporate conduct … You can change the way all for-profit colleges behave,” he said. The public would note how the jurors “changed the way for-profit colleges do business,” he added.

Globe attorney Damon objected, calling the statements “completely inappropriate and a reason for a mistrial.”

The case does not allow for punitive damages, and he said Halunen should not goad the jury into finding a substitute.

The judge didn’t agree to a mistrial, but cautioned Halunen.