In re Dinnan

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In the decision of In re Dinnan, 661 F.2d 426 (5th Cir. 1981), the Fifth Circuit held there is no academic privilege in peer review materials; such material must be produced in discovery in federal litigation.

Specifically, the Court held that there is no such privilege as an "academic privilege," and the Court ordered a professor to disclose his vote concerning a tenure decision. The Court explained:

Though we recognize the importance of academic freedom, we must recognize its limits. The public policy of the United States prohibits discrimination; Professor Dinnan and the University of Georgia are not above that policy. To rule otherwise would mean that the concept of academic freedom would give any institution of higher learning a carte blanche to practice discrimination of all types.

Id. at 431.

The Court rejected the argument that disclosure would undermine the search for excellence in its destruction of confidentiality in the tenure decision-making process:

We fail to see how, if a tenure committee is acting in good faith, our decision today will adversely affect its decision-making process. This opinion should work to reinforce responsible decision-making in tenure questions as it sends out a clear signal to would-be wrongdoers that they may not hide behind "academic freedom" to avoid responsibility for their actions.

Id. at 432.

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