No “Due Process” for University of Virginia student’s accused of sexual misconduct:
I have been seeing a lot of sexual misconduct cases out of UVA lately. The procedures followed in those hearings are not fair, and not what we are accustomed to in judicial proceedings in this country.
HOW TO DEAL WITH IT: Don’t make any statements at the beginning of the case. You know only the barest outline of what you’re being accused of at that point. A good attorney can listen to your version of events, and identify witnesses and evidence to point the Investigators to WITHOUT your being interviewed by the Investigators. Then once the Draft Report is released, you and your attorney can review it, along with all of the exhibits — and make an informed decision as to whether or not you want to submit to an interview, at which your attorney can be present to advise you.
HOW TO DEAL WITH IT: A good attorney can educate you about what to expect, marshal the evidence in your favor, and consult with you throughout the process, including helping you prepare your statements and arguments.
HOW TO DEAL WITH IT: Having thoroughly reviewed the Draft and Final Investigation Reports, talked with you at length, reviewed any evidence you have, and spoken with any additional witnesses, your attorney will know how to recognize the weaknesses in the case against you, both in terms of technical defenses, and in terms of good common sense. Having experience with cross-examination, your attorney can help you prepare questions for the witnesses and your accuser which are based on their own recorded statements, with references to specific portions of the transcripts, to bring the most important issues to the attention of the panel, and to highlight any bias on the part of the Investigators.
HOW TO DEAL IT: This is why it is vitally important that you not make any statements at the beginning of the investigation, but carefully consider whether or not to speak to the Investigator after the Draft Report comes out. The Draft Report will contain information from which you can sometimes infer how the Investigator is going to decide the case without your statements. You can usually also get an idea whether or not anything you say to that Investigator is likely to help or hurt — before you open your mouth. You always have the option to testify at the panel hearing, whether or not you talk to the Investigators.
HOW TO DEAL WITH IT: The people who sit on the UVA Panels tend to cycle through many cases over time. Since the “new” Title IX process has been going on for a few years now, the panelists have gained experience and even witnessed some abuses of the system by Complainants. When the evidence is questionable, and the case is well-presented, the panelists can sometimes be critical of the Investigators’ findings, and may even reverse a finding of responsibility. The important thing is to be thoroughly prepared for the hearing, and take it seriously. You don’t get a second bite at the apple.
HOW TO DEAL WITH IT: Get a good lawyer, early on, and fight strategically. If you are, or in the future could be, facing criminal charges, that should have an impact on how you approach the UVA case. Assessment of the situation as it develops, anticipation of potential problems before they arise, and preparation are crucial.
I’m not a fan of the Good Ol’ Boy system, but as an attorney, I am a fan of Constitutional Due Process. We are ruining kids’ lives here – and surely given the DNA exonerations in the criminal process, which HAS all these protections — surely SOME of the kids whose lives we are ruining are innocent.
Moreover — we are debasing ourselves as a society, and systemically degrading our own cultural notions of Justice by allowing this to persist. I, too, have worn the Honors of Honor — and this is just beneath us.
Contact us today for a Consultation.
André Hakes, Criminal Defense Attorney
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