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Court Rejects Lieber’s Argument Harvard Must Pay Legal Fees

January 11, 2022

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court sided with Harvard University in a lawsuit brought by chemistry professor Charles Lieber seeking to force the university to pay his legal fees.

Lieber was convicted last month of lying to federal authorities about his ties to a Chinese scientific talent program and of failing to report the income on his taxes.

In a ruling issued Monday, Massachusetts’ highest court found that Harvard acted consistently with its indemnification policy in determining that it was “reasonably likely” that Lieber ultimately would not be eligible for indemnification and therefore was not entitled to advance payment of his legal fees.

The opinion says Harvard’s executive president, Katherine N. Lapp, “determined that indemnification was likely to be precluded under any of a number of exceptions set forth in the policy, including where a qualified person is adjudicated or determined not to have acted in good faith or in the reasonable belief that his or her actions were in the best interests of Harvard; is adjudicated or determined to have engaged in criminal misconduct, intentional wrongdoing, recklessness, or gross negligence; or is found to have committed an act or omission that he or she knew or should have known was a violation of Harvard policies.”

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