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Andrew Napolitano’s spot in the klieg lights has pulled him away from teaching class so often that Seton Hall University School of Law has canceled him midseason. The former judge, who since last summer has been holding court on his own Fox TV show, “Power of Attorney,” resigned in protest or was fired as an adjunct professor — depending on whose version you believe — when he answered Hollywood’s call one too many times. After investigating student complaints about Napolitano’s having rescheduled classes on four occasions last semester, Associate Dean Kathleen Boozang announced in a Dec. 21 e-mail to students enrolled in Napolitano’s yearlong constitutional law course that a full-time faculty member would take over for him in the spring semester at the Newark, N.J., school. “Professor Napolitano does not see that his schedule will become any less harried in the foreseeable future,” Boozang wrote. “Consequently, he cannot continue as your Constitutional Law teacher next semester.” The new professor, Baher Azmy, will use a different textbook, of which the law school is assuming the cost, the dean wrote. The dean says the school offered to give Napolitano another class that would take up less of his time but that he refused. In e-mails responding to Boozang’s missive, Napolitano accused Boozang of unfairly firing him without hearing his side of the story and of giving students the wrongful impression he resigned. “I did not agree to stop teaching you. I was terminated by Dean Boozang,” Napolitano wrote in a Jan. 2 e-mail to students. “Rescheduling is a way of life for busy lawyers. In fact, we completed our syllabus this past semester and had time for a review class. In fact, my traveling to California will consume less time next semester than it did this semester. Dean Boozang should know these facts, but she refused to discuss them with me.” However, Napolitano admits, in a subsequent e-mail dated Jan. 10, that the dean’s office had scheduled a Dec. 11 meeting with him to discuss his attendance and that he canceled that morning upon getting a call from Fox News, which needed him that day for hourly commentaries on the presidential election recount in Florida. In the Jan. 10 e-mail, Napolitano says his schedule was further complicated by “the unhappy death and funeral of my 99 1/2 year old maternal grandmother” as well as his need to tend to client matters and his own tenure on federal jury duty. Napolitano’s earlier e-mail apparently prompted howls of protest on campus. He provided the New Jersey Law Journal with a copy of an e-mail he received from a student, Holly Peterson. She wrote that she was “positively stunned by the revelation that the law school misled approximately eighty of my classmates by informing all of us that you had elected not to continue in your position. Such a course of action by a nationally recognized law school is highly inappropriate. As students of law, we are held to strict standards of ethics, and I expect the law school administration to respect and adhere to those same standards.” Napolitano says the midcourse change of professors is unfair to students and he dismisses the offer of the less time-consuming assignment as spin control. “This is a cover story created by them because of the firestorm that resulted from my e-mail, in which I denied that I left voluntarily,” he told a reporter last week. Boozang, who was in Texas last week, did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment. Seton Hall Law School Dean Patrick Hobbs says he supports Boozang’s decision and was “quite surprised” by Napolitano’s e-mail to students. “To us it’s not a big deal because we do this all the time,” Hobbs says. “Last year or the year before we had a faculty member who had to go onto maternity leave. In our view this is just the normal course of events of the law school.” Hobbs says the law school is in the midst of seeking reaccreditation from the American Bar Association and to pass muster the school must ensure that each class meets a specified number of times. He adds that Napolitano is a valued faculty member who always gets strong student evaluations and hopes he continues his association with the law school. Napolitano was a judge in Bergen County, N.J., Superior Court from 1987 to 1995, when he quit in protest of low judicial salaries. He is a partner at Sills Cummis Radin Tischman Epstein & Gross in Newark, N.J., and lectures for the New Jersey Law Journal on civil case law developments. He has been a Seton Hall adjunct for 11 years. On “Power of Attorney,” Napolitano portrays a judge who referees disputes like the one between roommates fighting over bills, and a divorced couple fighting over who should pay for their child’s braces. Celebrity attorneys like Christopher Darden and Gloria Allred represent the litigants. Napolitano issues binding rulings and gives the parties a short lecture at the end of the show.

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