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Law lecturer departs Uni of Adelaide following 'misconduct investigation'

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A senior law lecturer at the University of Adelaide – who is also a former president of the Law Society of SA – resigned from the uni following a “misconduct investigation” and a dispute over ownership of academic material, InDaily can reveal.

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David Caruso left the university in April, after a complaint was made by a student regarding a required reading, but he insists he left on “amicable terms” to pursue his legal career.

In a statement to InDaily, a university spokesman confirmed “David Caruso is no longer employed by the University of Adelaide”.

“He resigned from the university on 24 April 2020,” the spokesman said.

“His resignation followed an investigation by the university into his conduct.”

The university spokesman said the investigation followed a student complaint in 2019 “that a required reading in one of Mr Caruso’s classes was not available via the library as would usually be expected”.

“The required reading referred to in the student complaint was available for sale through a third-party website,” he said.

“The university itself was not involved in the third-party website, did not know about it and was not engaged in selling the text to students.”

The textbook – titled ‘Interdisciplinary and International Juridical Proof (2019)’ – lists David Caruso as the author.

The university spokesman said, as a result of the student complaint, “the university organised for copies of the text to be made freely available in the library, as all required readings are”.

“During the course of its misconduct investigation, the university disputed the intellectual property of the text with Mr Caruso,” the spokesman said.

“The university asserted that much of the material on which that text was based in fact belonged to the university.

“The university requested that the third-party website remove the text, which it did.

David Caruso. Photo: China University of Political Science and Law

“The university is unable to comment further on this matter.”

Until his resignation, Caruso had been a member of staff at the university in various capacities since 2008.

For the last four of those years he was a senior lecturer in the Adelaide Law School.

He was also president of the Law Society in 2016.

Caruso told InDaily “there were multiple issues at the university” but that ultimately he left “to go back into legal practice”.

“I left the university on reasonable terms,” he said.

“I had been there for many years and it was time to go back into legal practice.

“I still take the view that my time at the university was positive. I enjoyed my role there but it was time to go back into legal practice.”

Caruso said he and the university parted “on amicable terms”.

“I have some differences of opinion as to what’s in that statement (from the university) but I prefer not to comment,” he said.

“There were discussions around those issues but I don’t comment on those. They were resolved internally.

“There were issues around the textbook. I had discussions with other colleagues at the university. They were resolved. Following that I decided to go back into legal practice.

“This was just a departure from the university to go back into another career.”

Asked to respond to the university raising concerns regarding ownership of the material in the textbook, he said: “These are issues that were discussed in the university. They were resolved. I moved on from that employment. I consider it to be an issue between me and the university when I was working there.

“I decided to return to legal practice for a number of reasons and that was the end of it.”

Caruso added that he “always did the best for my students, trying to provide them with the best materials for their learning and education”.

When asked whether he agreed with the university that the intellectual property of the textbook did not belong to him, he said “no I don’t agree with that” but declined to elaborate.

“There are things in (the university’s statement) which I could correct or amend some of the information but these issues were discussed with the university, they were resolved and left on amicable terms,” he said.

An online search of the textbook lists David Caruso as the author and a summary from the book says it “examines the law, history, culture, science, policy and future of proof in litigation”.

The summary says the book “will acquaint the reader with an Australian and global appreciation for the laws of evidence that govern litigation, together with an understanding of the different disciplines that contribute to proof in courts across the world”.

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