Judge throws Ball suit out of Court

A Queens County Supreme Court judge ruled last month that the University acted within its legal rights when it suspended a student for an off-campus incident last year.

In dismissing the now former student’s lawsuit against the University, Hon. Judge Roger Rosengarten stated in court documents obtained by the Torch that St. John’s did indeed follow the guidelines of the Student Code of Conduct with the suspension.

“The University is pleased with the court’s decision to dismiss the Article 78 proceeding,” said Joseph Oliva, the University’s general counsel. “We believe that the decision is consistent with well established law in New York State.”

The lawyer for the former student, James Ball, responded to the judge’s ruling by stating her intention to appeal and file a motion to reargue the case.

“I am making the motion because the text of the decision indicates to me that [the judge] may have overlooked a salient part of my papers on St. John’s burden of proof,” Ball’s lawyer (and mother) Ann Ball said in an email.

Ball was suspended toward the end of last spring semester after another student accused him of “very serious crimes,” according to the lawsuit.

Ball was arrested in his off-campus apartment on April 27, but the Queens District Attorney decided not to pursue charges and had the files sealed.

The Torch has decided to not identify the other student named in the lawsuit because of the nature of the allegation.

Ball, who at the time of his suspension was a sophomore, argued his case in front of a University disciplinary board last July to try to be reinstated as a student, however the board ruled to suspend him for another semester, according to the lawsuit.

Ball’s lawsuit accused the University of giving preferential treatment to the other student, who, according to several court documents, addressed the conduct board via an unsworn email that “contained obvious errors.”

The judge, however, disagreed, writing in his ruling dated Dec. 21 that he was convinced that no preferential treatment was given to the other student.

“A determination as to the credibility of the parties is for determination by the conduct board panel members who heard and saw the evidence and credibility is not a matter for judicial review by the court,” the judge wrote in his ruling.

“No lawyer likes an adverse ruling, but I have the utmost respect for the Court,” Ball’s lawyer, Ann, said in an email about the ruling.

Speaking exclusively to the Torch last October after the original lawsuit was filed, Ann Ball said they were suing the school to have James reinstated and for financial damages.

She now says James is attending a different school.

University officials named as defendants in Ball’s lawsuit included Rev. Donald J. Harrington, C.M., President of the University, Dean of Students Danny Trujillo, Associate General Counsel Kathleen McElroy and Director of Student Conduct Jack Flynn.

The lawsuit identified McElroy as the chair of the conduct board panel, that included five anonymous school representatives that determined Ball’s suspension.

According to the Queens Supreme Court’s website, the two sides will meet again in court on Feb. 25 regarding a separate lawsuit filed by Ball.