A Durham County Superior Court judge has ruled that Duke does not have to immediately give Lewis McLeod his degree—but also said that the University cannot make McLeod's expulsion official until a trial takes place, local news outlets are reporting.
McLeod, who entered Duke as part of the Class of 2014, is suing the University for his diploma after being expelled for sexual misconduct. McLeod filed for a preliminary injunction in early May and a four-day hearing occurred last week, ultimately leading to Superior Court Judge W. Osmond Smith III's ruling today.
"We are pleased the Court recognized the need to preserve the integrity of Duke’s decision not to issue a degree at this point in the lawsuit," Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations, wrote in an email Thursday. "Duke follows federal legal requirements for complaints of student sexual misconduct and works very hard to make sure the process is fair and just in every case. “
Speaking with The Chronicle before the decision had been issued, Rachel Hitch—McLeod's lawyer and a partner at Schwartz and Shaw in Raleigh—explained that McLeod filed for the injunction in order to avoid personal damage.
"He's asked the judge to intervene so he doesn't suffer irreparable harm," Hitch said. "So much time passes between the filing of a lawsuit and the resolution of a lawsuit—in that time, Lewis could lose his visa status and lose his job."
McLeod is a citizen of Australia who is in the country on a student visa, with a job lined up at a Wall Street firm pending that he secures his degree. His visa has expired, but there is a grace period until July 11—at which point he will have to return to Australia if he is not able to secure his diploma and job.
Check back for updates to this developing story.