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Harvard Lawyer on Betsy DeVos’ Corinthian Loans Court Violation: I’ve Never Seen Such Flouting of the Laws by a Public Official Before

A Harvard University lawyer representing defrauded college students in a class-action go well with in opposition to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos informed Newsweek that she has by no means seen such flouting of the legal guidelines by a public official earlier than.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Sallie Kim lambasted DeVos on Monday for violating a 2018 court docket order to cease amassing loans from the previous college students of Corinthian Colleges Inc., a now-defunct, for-profit school chain. The choose even threatened the secretary with the prospect of jail time.

Despite being ordered to waive everything of the loans, Devos and the Education Department have continued to chase the previous college students to pay their money owed, contacting upwards of 16,000 former college students and deducting funds from a minimum of 1,800 individuals, based on court docket filings.

In an interview with Newsweek, Harvard lawyer Toby Merrill referred to as the training secretary’s actions “truly unbelievable.”

Merrill is the director of the Project on Predatory Student Lending, a nonprofit Harvard University venture that represents the 80,000 former college students hoping to have their money owed canceled within the class-action go well with.

“Not only has the Department of Education over and over refused to do its job and discharge the loans, but it has also refused to just follow the basic laws of the court,” Merrill mentioned. “It really takes the cake. It’s far beyond what I’ve seen before.”

Harvard Lawyer on Betsy DeVos' Corinthian Loans Court Violation: I've Never Seen Such Flouting of the Laws by a Public Official Before
Toby Merrill, the Harvard University lawyer litigating in opposition to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in a category motion go well with. Harvard Law School

Merrill cited the contempt of Congress proceedings introduced in opposition to Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in July, however said that DeVos’ offense can be way more egregious, given it was dedicated in federal court docket.

Following the listening to on Monday, attorneys for DeVos and the Department of Education have been informed they’ve till October 21 to file the related briefings in the event that they wished to argue that contempt of court docket was not warranted on this case. Merrill and her crew will then have an extra seven days to reply.

Merrill mentioned on this case, she was assured {that a} contempt of court docket ruling can be introduced.

“I don’t want to put any words in the judge’s mouth,” she mentioned, “but I think based on the evidence, it’s unquestionable that the Department of Education is in contempt of the court order. There really is no factual question about it.”

The Department of Education informed Kim it’s within the technique of offering refunds to a minimum of 3,200 of the previous college students who made pointless funds. Charlie Merritt, a Justice Department lawyer representing Devos and the Education Department, mentioned they’re taking “responsibility” for the noncompliance points and are dedicated to resolving them, Politico reported.

Still, Merrill argued that the secretary’s actions clearly represent “extraordinary noncompliance.”

“That is essentially the basis for a finding of contempt of court,” she mentioned. “There is no additional ingredient you have to find.”

Harvard Lawyer on Betsy DeVos' Corinthian Loans Court Violation: I've Never Seen Such Flouting of the Laws by a Public Official Before
Betsy DeVos seems her papers over earlier than her affirmation listening to for Secretary of Education in January 2017. DeVos faces the prospect of a contempt of court docket ruling after violating a choose’s 2018 order. Getty

Although jail time is an possibility on the choose’s disposal, Merrill mentioned it was unlikely that DeVos would find yourself behind bars. Kim is extra more likely to take actions akin to imposing fines, ordering weekly replace experiences and assigning a choose to observe additional compliance.

Newsweek has contacted the Department of Education. However, a response has but to be acquired.

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