Thursday, December 29, 2011

Innnnnnnteresting: UCLA vice chancellor of legal affairs Kevin Reed on the Sheri Sangji case

Via Jyllian Kemsley, a southern California public radio station interviews Kevin Reed, the vice chancellor of legal affairs for UCLA. He also interviewed Russ Phifer, a former head of ACS' Division of Health and Safety. I'm going to be transcribing most of the comments, but I thought I would make a note of a few of his comments quickly:
  • Placed a lot of emphasis on UCLA's lab inspections
  • He said that Sangji was experienced, a professional chemist and chosen from "hundreds of applicants" for her position. 
    • Editorial comment: Come on! You have GOT to be kidding me. If this is the line they're going to be using, they're in deep kimchee. 
  • He said that it was a terrible tragedy and an accident, not a crime (not a surprise)
  • Asserted that UCLA has become a nationwide leader in chemical safety since the accident
    • Also said that this was relevant to "justice"
  • He said that UCLA would be providing Professor Harran with counsel. 
  • He made no indication that they were interested in settling with the LA County DA. 


  1. Remember that the prosecution has to provide a prima facia case that UCLA/Harran acted criminally and I personally don't think that will be easy. If it was, they would have done so already, rather than wait 3 years.

    The VP here was clearly trying to improve the University's standing in the media and the public, and that's all. These statements are not the legal arguments, as he certainly will not be the trial lawyer.

  2. True enough. The legal/ethical/moral split that a person's mind needs to make here is pretty interesting.

  3. The "experienced professional chemist" is utter crap and completely outrageous.

  4. I am not saying she was unskilled just that using this as an excuse is really upsetting.

  5. I cannot believe that UCLA is providing Harran with counsel. What are they thinking? Doubling down behind him seems to only open the state to deeper liability. His actions as the manager of a lab were clearly negligent. A more proper course of action would have been to fire him.

  6. If a 2nd year grad student is an experienced professional, why the heck couldn't I find a job until about six years later?

  7. Just a comment on the number of applications, which you seem to question. In my experience, it's reasonable. I'm in the Midwest, but when I advertised a lab tech position last year (which pays $34,000), I had over 80 applications. I would assume that being in LA and with a much higher salary, it's quite possible "hundreds" of applications were indeed received. It's worth noting that these positions must be advertised and usually are advertised nationally.

  8. A1:34:

    That's a fair point. I'm still really quite skeptical. While that position might have be advertised nationally, I'm going to guess that there was no intention of hiring anyone other than a local candidate.

    Reed's spin is all about making Ms. Sangji into (as much as he can) an elite chemist in the eyes of the public, the "best of the best." Sangji certainly had an above-average resume for a 20-something chemist, but that's it. The "hundreds of applicants" bit, is, I suspect, just more exaggeration on the part of UCLA's main PR guy. Even if that's an on-the-facts accurate statement, I believe it doesn't mean what Kevin Reed hopes it does.


looks like Blogger doesn't work with anonymous comments from Chrome browsers at the moment - works in Microsoft Edge, or from Chrome with a Blogger account - sorry! CJ 3/21/20