Photo Essay: A Behind-The-Scenes Look Into The Trial

Last week, I provided a brief update on the trial in Yu v Idaho State University and also what’s next (we still have to submit our closing arguments in writing, so a decision from the judge won’t be coming right away).

But a lot went into the trial, from preparing experts to long distance travel across country. To give you a behind-the-scenes look into this unique experience — how many of us can say we’ve seen the inside of a US Federal Courthouse? — I’m sharing some photos from our time during and just after the trial.

(Note: Unfortunately, we have no photos from the courtroom itself, as rules prohibit any photography within that space — sorry!)

I shared this photo in the previous post from last week, but I wanted to run it again because it features the full trial team, plus myself and Jun. Seated at front is our main lawyer Ron Coulter; behind him a white suit is our second chair lawyer Holly Sutherland, and next to her is our paralegal Crystal Anderson.

But we also benefited from the enormous support of our family here in the US.

My Dad drove from Ohio to Idaho to attend the trial, and he took copious, detailed notes during the proceedings that have provided us with a valuable outline of what happened.

My Uncle Robert also drove out with my father to attend the trial, and he was a great support as well to all of us.

We were able to take photos with some of our experts who helped support our case.

One of the experts we were most excited to meet was Dr. Gerald Koocher, our ethics in psychology expert. Dr. Koocher is a past President of the American Psychological Association and author of Ethics in Psychology and the Mental Health Professions, the same textbook ISU used to train Jun in ethics in psychology in 2009 and 2011.

The morning this photo was taken, just before Dr. Koocher left, he asked for our address in the US. Much to our surprise, the following week while staying with my family, a package arrived from Dr. Koocher — with signed copies of his ethics textbook (the latest version)Ethics in Psychology and the Mental Health Professions as well as his book Psychologists’ Desk Reference.

Inside, Dr. Koocher wrote a personal note to Jun in each of the books.

The note in this book reads, “To Jun Yu: I hope this is of help to you as you plan a career of helping others. Gerald Koocher, March 1, 2019.”

We also took a picture with Dr. Nadya Fouad, our rebuttal expert in cultural competency.

Dr. Fouad served in leadership roles for many committees for the American Psychological Association, including as the Co-Chair of the Multicultural Guidelines Writing Team (published in 2003), Chair of the Board of Educational Affairs, Chair of the 2006 Competencies Workgroup, and Chair of the Ethics Committee.

One of the greatest blessings is friends who support you when you need them most — such as my friend Judy Brutz, who lives in Pocatello, Idaho, and attended every day of the entire trial. This photo was taken in the US Federal Courthouse. Judy, can’t thank you enough for being there for us.

After the trial, my father, Uncle Robert, myself and Jun all traveled back to Ohio across country in my father’s van. It took us three days to make the journey.

During the trip, we encountered heavy snow while driving on Interstate 80 through Wyoming — but fortunately, the weather did not delay our return to Ohio.

It was a smooth and safe journey for us, overall.

We will continue to fight and believe justice will prevail.

Yu v ISU: Update on Trial and What’s Next in Case

The trial for my husband’s lawsuit, Jun Yu v Idaho State University, took place from Feb 26 to March 1. As it turned out, it was a bench trial — and it’s still not over yet.

On Feb 21, the Court issued a decision stating that “the Court has concluded that the remaining claim for trial in this case – that of a Title VI discrimination claim – and the nature of the relief sought by Plaintiff should he prevail on his liability case, do not allow for a jury trial.” So the trial only took place before the federal judge in this case — Judge Bush, who will also decide the result.

We presented all of our strongest evidence and testimony at the trial. Our witnesses were as follows:

ISU only had four witnesses who testified — all were fact witnesses. The university did not present three of the witnesses they had initially planned to have at the trial — one is their sole expert witness Dr. Dru Gladney, a sociologist whose testimony had been limited by the Court; the other two not present were supervisors from Jun’s internship that allegedly were supporting ISU.

However, the trial hasn’t officially ended because the judge gave the option to submit written closing arguments, which both parties decided to do. So, the first round of written closing arguments from our side will be due March 25. The Defendant will submit their closing arguments April 1, and then we will have a chance to submit a rebuttal on April 8. Afterwards, the judge will then be able to issue a decision on the case. We don’t exactly know when the decision will come, but we will be sure to let you know when it comes out.

It has been a very busy few weeks for me, hence I’ve gotten a bit behind in posting. Expect my posts back on schedule next week, where I’ll provide some further updates on the case and more. In the meantime, wishing all of you a marvelous March!

P.S.: In the photo above you can see me and my husband Jun standing together with the trial team. Seated in front is our primary lawyer Ron Coulter. Behind him, wearing an off-white suit, is Holly Sutherland, our second chair lawyer, and beside her is Crystal Anderson, our paralegal.

ISU Delays Trial, But Must Pay a Price: Jun Yu v ISU Update

(New to Jun Yu v. Idaho State University, the discrimination case that my husband filed against the university? Learn more at our fact sheet.)

Dear friends and supporters,

We have some news to share about Jun Yu versus Idaho State University.

First off, our trial date has moved from November 13, 2018 to February 26, 2019. ISU proposed the delay in trial date and the Court granted that request.

However, in a surprise move, the Court also stated the following in its decision to allow the trial delay:

…in the interest of fairness and justice, the Court will require that Defendant pay the expenses, including reasonable attorney fees, incurred by Plaintiff as a direct result of the trial continuance that cannot reasonably be avoided.[emphasis added]

We are very grateful for this, as well as the fact that the Court acknowledged the following:

Plaintiff understandably opposes the motion for reasons of expense, the difficulty in reassembling witnesses, the inconvenience for Plaintiff and his counsel in changing the extensive planning that has gone into the trial preparation, and because of the additional delay in bringing the case to a conclusion. In almost any other circumstance, the Court would not agree to allow for such a continuance because the filing of the motion on the eve of trial inescapably creates a hardship, will cause additional expense, and is potentially prejudicial to Plaintiff.[emphasis added]

You can view all these documents and more at our Jun Yu v. Idaho State University Federal Lawsuit – Public Documents page.

Jun and I remain confident moving forward and believe we are closer than ever to gaining victory and justice. We couldn’t have made it this far, though, without your support. Thank you so much for being there for us.

We still have work to do — but we’re encouraged and determined to keep fighting until justice prevails.

P.S.: If you’re new to this discrimination case, learn more through our Jun Yu v. Idaho State University – Fact Sheet.

We Have a Trial Date and Evidence of Discrimination by Idaho State University

We have some good news for you in my husband’s case (Jun Yu versus Idaho State University)!

But before we get into that, here’s a quick recap of why my husband is suing Idaho State University.

Imagine if your past 5 years of hard work were suddenly robbed from you…if your entire career and future were abruptly ruined.

That’s what happened to Jun Yu, my husband, who was abruptly forced out of his PhD program without any warning or remediation. The university also denied him the PhD he rightfully earned, as if all the hard work he did for the past 5 years was for nothing.

As the expert report of Dr. Shannon Chavez-Korell noted on page 8:

At the time of dismissal, Mr. Yu was a student in good standing with a cumulative GPA of 3.69, and he had only one pre-doctoral internship to complete prior to receiving his Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. Prior to the May 3, 2013 dismissal letter from ISU, Mr. Yu had never been on probation and had never been informed that he was in danger of being dismissed from the doctoral program.

Additional leading psychologists have concluded ISU violated professional and academic standards (including the author of the ethics textbook ISU used to train him); meanwhile ISU has no psychology experts supporting their case. You can learn more about the psychology experts supporting Jun at the Jun Yu versus Idaho State University fact sheet.

Despite the mounting evidence that they have committed serious violations of the law and professional standards, ISU has continued to deny doing anything wrong and attempted to avoid any accountability. This has been the case ever since filing the lawsuit in September 2015.

So one great piece of news to share is this — we have defeated ISU’s efforts to have the case thrown out and a trial date has been set for November 13, 2018.

Meanwhile, we are even more confident about the case since we obtained strong evidence that shows ISU discriminated against Jun.

You may recall that last year, the judge ordered ISU to hand over student records. Those court-ordered documents revealed that, in at least 6 major areas, ISU treated Jun in a discriminatory manner compared to similarly situated students. That includes the fact that, while Jun was never warned he was or would be at risk of dismissal (and was ultimately dismissed), 7 other students in the ISU program were explicitly warned (sometimes multiple times) that they were or would be at risk of dismissal (and none of these students were dismissed).

You can view the evidence for yourself on the public record. However, this table is an excellent overview of the findings:Jun Yu v Idaho State University

If you would like to explore the case in further detail, you’re welcome to take a look at the Jun Yu versus Idaho State University fact sheet to learn more. Additionally, legal geeks or anyone curious about the details can visit Jun Yu v. Idaho State University Federal Lawsuit – Public Documents.

Thank you always for your support, which has helped enable our fight for justice and helped us achieve these small victories. We will continue to fight until justice prevails.

P.S.: Generosity — the platform we’ve used for online fundraising — will close its doors on March 29, 2018, the last date where we can still accept financial support through the website. If you or someone you know would like to support us financially through Generosity, you’re welcome to do so in these last few days. Thank you!

Featured on AsAm News: Discrimination Complaint by Asian American Student against Idaho State University Moves Forward

Last year, AsAm News, a website devoted to documenting the Asian American experience, published one of the best stories about my husband’s discrimination lawsuit. I’m excited that AsAm News has once again provided some fine coverage on Jun Yu’s case with a story titled Discrimination Complaint by Asian American Student against Idaho State University Moves Forward.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

The Federal Court in the District of Idaho has handed an Asian American student a legal victory in his discrimination lawsuit against Idaho State University.

The court approved a motion by attorneys for defendant Jun Yu to expand his complaint from three to 18 counts of wrongdoing….

Among the new counts is that the University denied Yu his [substantive] due process rights when it removed him from the doctorate program in clinical psychology in 2013.

Coulter said Yu’s dismissal from the program “was arbitrary and capricious as well as a substantial departure from accepted academic norm.”

Head on over to AsAm News to read the full piece. And if you love it, share it!

Two Legal Victories in Jun Yu’s Case Against Idaho State University

Good news to share! We’ve just learned of two significant victories in my husband Jun Yu’s discrimination case against Idaho State University.

#1: The Court granted Jun Yu’s motion to amend his present complaint; the newly amended complaint now has 18 counts against ISU

Last year, after doing research and reading the expert reports, our lawyers determined Jun’s case was much stronger than the initial complaint (and its 3 counts) reflected. However, since the Court’s set deadline for amending complaints had passed, in April 2016 we filed a motion to amend the complaint (meaning, we were asking the Court’s permission to amend), which ISU opposed.

This Court decision, allowing us to amend the complaint, strengthens Jun’s case. The newly amended complaint now has 18 counts of wrongdoing against the university — six times what we initially had — and truly reflects the egregious harm ISU inflicted upon Jun.

It also means we’ve just added some very significant counts to the case.

One of the most important counts is number four, the denial of substantive due process rights. This count was supported by the reports from Jun’s leading experts in ethics, cultural competence, and aversive racism, who have all concluded that ISU’s actions towards him were “a substantial departure from accepted academic norms.” Why does this matter? Because the Supreme Court ruled (See Regents of University of Michigan v. Ewing) that universities cannot substantially depart from accepted academic norms in their judgments regarding students.

The opinions of Jun’s experts are significant. It is the rare case where a plaintiff presented expert witnesses who belong to faculties to conclude that an academic institution behaved in an arbitrary and capricious manner that was a substantial departure from accepted academic norms.

Besides the denial of substantive due process, we’ve also added in a number of breach of contract counts. A notable one is count number seven, Failure to Adhere to the Code of Ethics of the American Psychological Association (APA) (as per Idaho licensing law). This count comes from the conclusions of our leading experts in psychology, including one of the most renowned authorities on ethics in psychology, who determined ISU violated a number of APA Ethical standards in their treatment towards Jun Yu. (You can read the full reports detailing APA Ethics violations here and here). That’s how serious this is; leaders in the psychology field are standing up to condemn the behavior of ISU.

If you’re a legal geek or just curious, you’re welcome to read the Court’s full decision and the amended complaint. I also encourage anyone who wants to understand the strength of Jun’s case to read the full expert reports on the record: ethics, cultural competence, and aversive racism

#2: The Court granted Jun Yu’s request to obtain the records of all students who were pursuing doctorate degrees in Clinical Psychology between 2008 and 2015 at Idaho State University.

ISU was trying to withhold valuable information from us — information that could potentially reveal discriminatory treatment.

Initially, our lawyer had requested these student records to prove discrimination occurred. Because ISU denied the request, in March 2016 our lawyer filed a motion to compel the university to produce the student records, which ISU also opposed.

Finally, the Court says ISU must hand over the records:

The Court finds the records requested by Plaintiff are relevant to his claim of discrimination based on national origin and his allegations at this stage in the proceedings are sufficient to warrant production of these materials. Plaintiff’s need for these records sufficiently outweigh the students’ privacy interest…

This is great news. Again, for the legal geeks out there, you can read the full Court decision here. You can also browse all the public documents in Jun Yu versus Idaho State University.

So, what’s next in the case?

There’s still another pending motion before the Court, a motion for summary judgment that was filed by ISU back in September 2016. Before the case even gets assigned a trial date, we need to overcome summary judgment. It’s one of the most critical hurdles for a civil suit.

We already believed we could overcome summary judgment last year. We feel more confident after these decisions from the Court — particularly the Court’s decision granting us the leave to file an amended complaint, adding many critical counts to the lawsuit.

There’s still much to do before a trial would happen, including sorting through seven years worth of student records from ISU (which could end up costing a lot of time and money). That’s why your support, in whatever form you can provide, is so important.

Here’s how you can help:

  1. Your donations can help fund the legal costs associated with the lawsuit. Every donation counts and no amount is too small. You can donate through Generosity, as well as Paypal ([email protected]) and WeChat (diziguijiaoyu).
  2. Share our story with people you know and ask for their support.
  3. Write about what happened to Jun Yu. (You can find all the public documents in the case right here.)

Thank you so much for your continued support and interest in the case! We will keep you posted!

Sharing the Sweetness and the Sorrows (From the Archives)

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I wrote a blog post almost 5 years ago titled Sharing the Sweetness and the Sorrows, inspired by the hardships we began facing then. I thought about it recently because we’re still facing hardships, but in a different form (you can learn more about our fight against injustice here), and still finding ways to share the sweetness and sorrows together.

Here’s an excerpt from that post:

In Chinese, they call it tónggāngòngkǔ (同甘共苦), sharing the sweetness and the sorrows, as well as tóngzhōugòngjì (同舟共济), the Chinese version of “we’re in the same boat.” In practice, we know the words all too well. We’ve weathered my sudden job loss and Chinese visa problems, his US visa denial, separation when my company sent me to Taiwan, and months of transitioning to life in the US. We’ve always shared everything in life, and now we share again, even if we wish it weren’t so.

But the other day, I smiled after John repeated the words tónggāngòngkǔ like our daily mantra. “Maybe this trouble isn’t so bad after all,” I said. “Because our relationship isn’t the trouble, it’s our strength.”

Read the full piece here.

Sometimes, the greatest comfort in the face of challenges is knowing you’re not alone.

Wishing you all a wonderful week — I’ll be back on Friday!

Your Next Amazon.com Order Could Come With #JusticeForJun

For those of you already on board, please choose your country’s Amazon store:

IMG_20160901_154829As many of you know, my husband and I are currently fighting against injustice in US Federal Court. (Learn more about that here.)

But did you know that every time you shop at Amazon.com, your order could actually help us in our cause?

Whenever you shop at Amazon.com through an affiliate link on Speaking of China, Amazon.com will automatically give up to 6 percent of the purchase to us. Those funds can help us with the enormous costs of our legal fight for #JusticeForJun.

It’s like asking Amazon.com to make a donation to us, every time you shop — at no extra cost to you! How amazing is that?

If you’d like to help support #JusticeForJun with your next Amazon.com purchase, just use the following affiliate link (valid for Amazon shoppers in the USA, UK and Canada):

https://www.amazon.com//ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&linkCode=ll2&tag=thwuwa-20&linkId=450498e3b4452fd4a4e1415e855c1daf

And if you’re in Germany, please use the following affiliate link:

https://www.amazon.de//ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&linkCode=ll2&tag=&linkId=cd789b2db7e8bd44b460a40e779651fa

You can bookmark it and use it again and again, ensuring Amazon.com continues to give back with every purchase you make.

As always, thank you for all you do to support us.

 

 

How Loving a “Foreign Enemy” (And Writing About It) Changes Lives

IMG_20160726_175050Ronaldo A. Coulter is the lawyer representing my husband Jun Yu in US Federal Court (learn more about the case here).

He also happens to follow my blog. And it’s interesting what he thought about China before he met me and my husband.

Here’s what he wrote to my husband earlier this summer in response to my post about being in the hospital in China:

…as a U.S. Marine raised in the Cold War era, I have always considered China and Russia the enemy. I have to admit that after working with you on this case and reading some posts on Jocelyn’s blog, I actually realize that just as in the United States there are everyday people in China.

Whether foreign relations will improve from where it is today is anyone’s guess. However, the pictures taken in the hospital on Jocelyn’s blog allow me to place a human element to my version of China.

Yes, he had considered China the enemy — until he started representing my husband and, later, reading my blog.

China as the enemy? It just sounds wrong to me. When you’ve lived in China for as long as I have – when you’re married to China, with family here – it’s impossible to think of this country as the enemy.

IMG_3338This is the country that fostered my career as a writer. The country that taught me how to love and gave me an incredible husband. The country I plan to call home for the rest of my life.

China has given me so much, and continues to give more than I ever imagined. How could I feel anything but affection for this place? How could I possibly consider China the enemy?

Here’s the thing, though. I have to admit that it wasn’t always this way. Maybe my current self would never accept “China is the enemy” but my past self was different. There were moments in my past when I actually viewed China through skeptical eyes. And yes, there were even times when I thought of China in opposition to the United States.

US-China relations were tense when I first entered the Middle Kingdom back in August 1999. That was just months after the NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, sparking widespread demonstrations in China.

I was so anxious at the time for reasons that had nothing to do with the political situation. After all, I was a total teach in China newbie. I knew only the basics of Chinese history and culture, and my language skills were limited to laughable “phrasebook Mandarin Chinese”. I had never taught anything in my life, yet I had committed myself to a year of training college students in English.

But when I saw the news reports of those demonstrations – which included protesters chucking rocks at US Embassies and Consulates – my worries suddenly went beyond the usual troubles of teaching English in a truly foreign country.

I wondered, would being an American in China suddenly turn me into a target? Should I start telling everyone I’m a Canadian? What in the heck did I get myself into?

But after arriving in Zhengzhou, China, it was nothing like I had imagined.

Students welcomed me with giant bouquets of flowers and invitations to dinners out.

Teachers helped me arrange lessons in Tai Chi and Mandarin, with one teacher buying me the conversational Chinese book that helped me finally find my groove in the language.

I easily fell into close friendships and later began dating a local man, my first truly adult relationship.

The love and appreciation that surrounded me made it impossible to imagine US-China tensions. If anything, in my little world in Zhengzhou, US-China relations were at an all-time high.

I’ll never forget that one final exam I delivered to my students in a classroom with a bulletin board about the NATO bombing in Belgrade.

The bulletin board stridently denounced the actions of Americans as barbaric and criminal. And, along with photographs of actual protests, the board urged patriotic students to demonstrate against this gross violation of China’s sovereign rights.

What a contrast to the students on those desks, who put on their warmest smiles afterwards and insisted we all take a class photo together. It was as if the final exam was merely an excuse for us to hang out one last time.

This was not a world where people angrily chucked rocks at me for the actions of my government. This was not a country where people outwardly hated me for my citizenship. From this side of the Pacific, China looked more like a friend and nothing like an enemy.

Over the years, I’ve dated several Chinese men – and ultimately, I married one. Jun Yu is the love of my life, the husband who truly completes me in every way that matters. Who would have thought I’d find him half a world away from my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio?

IMG_20160208_160634_BURST3Now that I’m intimately connected to this country, which is home to family too, it’s unthinkable to view China in the black-and-white terms people use in politics and the news. It just doesn’t fit my more nuanced perspective of this place. There’s so much we miss about a country if we only picture it through the eyes of the media.

Our lawyer Ron Coulter reminded me of the value that comes from writing about what it’s like to live with – and even sleep with – the so-called “enemy” country.

When we share stories of our daily lives across unlikely borders, we offer a chance to go beyond the headlines. To understand that there’s more to these places than what the reports suggest. To connect with the people and realize that, despite the cultural and linguistic differences, we have things in common too.

Maybe we really can change the world, one blog post (about a so-called “enemy” country) at a time.

All I know is, there’s one US Marine-turned-lawyer who will never see China the same again.

What do you think?

Photo Essay: More Scenes from Our Epic USA Road Trip

Have we really been on the road for over two weeks?

I couldn’t believe it when I looked at the calendar and realized how much time had flown since we landed in the US on July 20. And to think we’ve spent most of it behind the wheel in the USA!

Of course, again, that’s meant I’ve had to take a break from blogging. (Thank you to all of you for your patience and understanding!)

I’m now firmly on solid ground back at my family home in the Cleveland, Ohio area — with no plans to travel in the next couple of weeks. So expect me to be back this Friday with a fresh post for you all.

In the meantime, enjoy this dispatch of more scenes from our epic USA road trip!

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Breakfast while camping on a tiny, forested island in Minnesota.

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An unexpected birthday surprise with friends in Idaho.

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Visiting Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.

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One of Jun’s favorite camping dinners — kimchi instant noodles and kipper snacks.

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Our best camping experience happened right here in Wisconsin at this quintessential Northern American campground. So peaceful, secluded and spacious!

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Jun in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

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Visiting with Susan Blumberg-Kason, author of Good Chinese Wife, in Chicago’s Chinatown.

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As always, remembering that the couple that road trips together for justice stays together. (You can learn more about the case that prompted our journey to the US and the road trip at Generosity.)