Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College et al
Judge Allison D. Burroughs: ORDER entered. MEMORANDUM AND ORDER(McDonagh, Christina)
Case 1:14-cv-14176-ADB Document 575 Filed 10/03/18 Page 1 of 5
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS
STUDENTS FOR FAIR ADMISSIONS,
PRESIDENT AND FELLOWS OF
Civil Action No. 14-cv-14176-ADB
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER REGARDING MOTIONS TO PARTICIPATE IN
TRIAL PROCEEDINGS FILED BY AMICI CURIAE
Presently before the Court are two motions filed by groups of amici curiae seeking to
participate at the trial scheduled to begin on October 15, 2018. [ECF Nos. 518, 532]. First,
Students1 request permission to make opening and closing statements, offer declarant testimony
from eight witnesses, and cross-examine SFFA’s expert witness, Professor Arcidiacono. [ECF
No. 518 at 9]. Second, a group of “25 Harvard student and alumni organizations comprised of
thousands of Asian Americans, Black, Latinx, Native American, and white Harvard students,
alumni . . . , faculty, and alumni interviewers” (“Organizations”) has requested leave to present
six witnesses for 45 minutes each and to present opening and closing statements. [ECF No. 532
at 1, 7]. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will permit these two amici curiae groups to
participate at trial within the limitations set forth herein.
Students is a group of prospective, current, and former Harvard students who claim to
“represent a broad cross-section of ethno-racial groups, identifying as Asian-American, Black,
Latino, Native American, and Pacific Islander.” [ECF No. 518 at 3].
Case 1:14-cv-14176-ADB Document 575 Filed 10/03/18 Page 2 of 5
The participation of amici curiae in this case dates back more than three years to the
Court’s denial of a motion to intervene that was filed by Students, who then were a group of nine
perspective and five then-current Harvard students. [ECF No. 52]. Although the Court denied
Students’ motion to intervene, it granted Students leave to participate as amici curiae. Id. at 2.
The Court allowed Students to submit briefing, participate in oral arguments on dispositive
motions, and submit declarations or affidavits in support of their memoranda. Id. The Court
stated that “[s]hould this case proceed to trial, amici curiae may file a motion to participate in the
proceedings, and the Court will consider the appropriate scope of participation at that time.” Id.
at 23. The Court subsequently also granted Organizations leave to participate as amici curiae
with the same status as students. [ECF Nos. 465, 516].
President and Fellows of Harvard College (“Harvard”) supports Students and
Organizations’ requests to present testimony at trial, but takes no position on the number of
witnesses that Students and Organizations should be permitted to call or whether opening and
closing arguments from the amici groups should be allowed, and opposes Students’ request to
cross-examine Professor Arcidiacono. [ECF No. 541]. Students for Fair Admissions (“SFFA”)
opposed Students and Organizations’ requests to participate at trial. [ECF No. 543].
The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not contain provisions concerning amici
appearances, but a district court has “inherent authority” to appoint amici to assist it in a
proceeding. Portland Pipe Line Corp. v. City of S. Portland, No. 2:15-CV-00054-JAW, 2017
WL 79948, at *4 (D. Me. Jan. 9, 2017) (quoting Animal Prot. Inst. v. Martin, 06-cv-128-B-W,
2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13378, at *6, 2007 WL 647567 (D. Me. Feb. 23, 2007)); see also Borges
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v. Our Lady of the Sea Corp., 935 F.2d 436, 442 (1st Cir. 1991) (“A trial judge has wide latitude
to regulate the conduct of trial.”). The First Circuit has noted that “by the nature of things an
amicus is not normally impartial[,]” and “an amicus who argues facts should rarely be
welcomed.” Strasser v. Doorley, 432 F.2d 567, 569 (1st Cir. 1970). “Only a named party or an
intervening real party in interest is entitled to litigate on the merits,” and a district court should
usually stop short of vesting amici with the “equal litigating rights of a named party/real party in
interest, thereby subverting the right of the [parties] to effectively control the future course of the
proceedings.” United States v. State of Mich., 940 F.2d 143, 166 (6th Cir. 1991). Nevertheless,
providing amici “a limited right to call and cross-examine witnesses” is appropriate in some
circumstances. State v. Dir., U.S. Fish & Wildlife Serv., 262 F.3d 13, 14 (1st Cir. 2001). To the
extent that witnesses are permitted to testify, “[d]istrict courts may impose reasonable time limits
on the presentation of evidence.” Borges, 935 F.2d at 442 (citing Johnson v. Ashby, 808 F.2d
676, 678 (8th Cir.1987)).
In considering Students and Organizations’ motions to participate at trial, the Court is
mindful of two considerations: (1) whether the participation will assist the Court or otherwise
advance justice, and (2) whether the participation will prejudice any party or subvert the parties’
control of the future of this litigation.2
Both amicus groups offer to present testimony from individuals with valuable
perspectives that will otherwise be absent from the trial record. [ECF No. 518 at 4–8, No. 532 at
4–6]. SFFA provides a litany of reasons to doubt that the testimony will be probative of the
alleged discrimination at issue. [ECF No. 543 at 3]. To the extent that amici might seek to
The Court also believes that permitting lawyers to gain trial experience is valuable. Given the
length of this case and the extent of amici participation, the Court considers this interest in
crafting its limitations on amici participation.
Case 1:14-cv-14176-ADB Document 575 Filed 10/03/18 Page 4 of 5
present testimony that is not probative as to the claims before the Court, the Court will be free to
disallow or disregard the testimony. While the Court concludes that the limited presentation of
testimony from some of the individuals proffered by amici will likely advance the interests of
justice by providing a valuable perspective, it does not find that it would be helpful to have amici
cross-examine Professor Arcidiacono.
There is no reason to believe that the limited presentation of arguments and direct
testimony will prejudice any party or subvert the parties’ control of the litigation. Although
SFFA notes Harvard did not identify students in its Rule 26 disclosures, SFFA has not claimed
that allowing testimony or opening statements from amici would adversely affect its ability to
make its case, nor is there any indication that SFFA has relied on the absence of students from
the Rule 26 disclosures in a way that would make allowing student or alumni testimony at trial
Accordingly, the Court orders as follows:
Students and Organizations may each submit a written opening statement.
Alternatively, the opening statement may be delivered in court, provided that it is (a) less than 15
minutes in length, and (b) delivered by an attorney with 5 or less years of experience.
Students and Organizations may also submit a written closing statement. The
Court is reserving on whether it will allow these closings to be delivered orally. If oral
presentations are allowed, they must be (a) less than 15 minutes in length, and (b) delivered by
an attorney with 5 or less years of experience.
Students will not be allowed to cross-examine Professor Arcidiacono.
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Students and Organizations may each present the testimony of up to 4 witnesses
from among the individuals identified in their motions, either as a written submission or through
oral examination. Direct examination of each witness will be limited to 30 minutes. The Court
requests that these direct examinations be handled by an associate with 5 or less years of
experience. Either side may cross the amici witnesses.
Students and Organizations shall meet and confer with the parties regarding the
scheduling of their participation. By October 12, 2018, Students and Organizations shall file
with the Court the names of any witnesses whose testimony they intend to offer.
By October 12, 2018, Students and Organizations shall serve Harvard and SFFA
with any and all exhibits they intend to offer. See [ECF No. 518 at 8 n.1].
October 3, 2018
/s/ Allison D. Burroughs
ALLISON D. BURROUGHS
U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
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