No “Due Process” for University of Virginia Student’s Accused of Sexual Misconduct:
1. Right to be Silent: Your “right to be silent” is otherwise known as your 5th amendment privilege against self incrimination. The UVA proceedings are separate from any criminal charges. That means if you defend yourself in the UVA case (which almost always boils down to he said/she said), then anything you say can be used against you in criminal court. If you don’t defend yourself, then there is no he said/she said. There’s just she said.
2. Right to Counsel: Sure, you can have an attorney at the UVA proceedings. I can sit right at the table beside you — I just can’t SAY anything. Literally — I can’t SPEAK (aside from whispering in your ear) during the proceedings. “While the advisor may provide support and advice to a party at the Hearing, the advisor may not speak on behalf of the party or otherwise participate in, or in any manner disrupt, the Hearing. The University reserves the right to remove any individual whose actions are disruptive to the proceedings.” The Policy, page 15.
3. Cross-Examination: Sure, you can cross-examine witnesses at your hearing. Of course, your attorney can’t say anything — so you have to do it yourself. What’s that? You want to ask the Complainant a Question? Oh, no no no. You get to write down your “suggested” questions, and submit them to the hearing chair, and he or she will decide whether or not to ask them. “The parties may not directly question one another or any witness, although they may proffer questions for the Review Panel, who may choose, in their discretion, to pose appropriate and relevant questions of the Investigator, the parties or any witnesses.” The Policy, Page 15.
4. Presumption of Innocence: Did I mention you are found guilty BEFORE the hearing? That’s right. A “report” is issued by the “Investigator” that says you’re guilty first, and then you get to decide if you want to “appeal” it. The appeal is your first opportunity for a “hearing”. With the lawyer who can’t speak. And the chair who decides whether or not to ask your questions. But, hey — you can testify, right? Oh, wait — see #1. “When the Investigator determines that there is sufficient information, by a Preponderance of the Evidence, to support a finding of responsibility … the Respondent may accept or contest such recommended finding(s) …If the Respondent contests one or more of the recommended finding(s) … [t]he Title IX Coordinator will provide the Final Investigation Report, together with any statements by the parties, to the Review Panel for further proceedings…” The Policy pages 12-13.
5. Jury of your Peers: Come right in and sit down in front of the special panel of “trained” members of the UVA Community. I’ll bet none of them are in your Government class… But hey, if you don’t like the result of this Star Chamber process, surely you can appeal it at the end to a REAL court, right? Oops. No, you can’t. “The decision of the Review Panel is final, without further recourse or appeal by either party”. The Policy, Page 18.
6. Standard of Proof: Surely they have to prove you did whatever you’re accused of “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt”, right? Nope. The standard that applies is “Preponderance of the Evidence”. That’s not even “Clear and Convincing” — it’s just basically 51%. More likely than not.
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.
Andre Hakes, Criminal Defense Attorney 434-973-7474