Bias trial postponed in favor of mediation

Group claims state discriminates against black colleges and universities

July 13, 2011|By Tricia Bishop, The Baltimore Sun

The trial date in a five-year-old civil lawsuit claiming bias against Maryland's historically black state colleges and universities has been postponed until December, so the parties can attempt to mediate the case.

"The issues at stake in this case are of concern not just to the parties but to the entire community," U.S. District Court Judge Catherine C. Blake wrote in a memorandum opinion issued late last month. "Better results often can be obtained, and can be more quickly obtained, through mediation rather than through trial."

A coalition representing four historically black institutions — Morgan, Coppin and Bowie state universities and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore — sued the state's Higher Education Commission in 2006, alleging discriminatory state practices and civil rights violations.

The parties held their first settlement discussion last month, and Blake has since urged them to continue. The trial had been set to begin July 11, but it's now scheduled for Dec. 12, if no deal is reached.

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