University Business October 2017 - 59

ment right to remain silent. A fair protigative process in which basic principles tween the accused and an adviser during
cess, of course, requires a deliberate pro- of fairness were either entirely absent or
the hearing-substantially negated the
ceeding that does not maximize speed
markedly limited.
accused's ability to participate meaningand efficiency. Though OCR gives lip
fully. Simon also noted that the hearing
service to due-process protections, its
Fairness and OCR oversight
applied its evidentiary standards unguidance states unequivocally that due
Judge Simon's Notre Dame ruling offers equally to the accused and the accuser.
process should give way to expeditious
some practical guidance to providing a
* Provide the opportunity to
resolution of a complaint.
fair process to the accused, without deconsider new evidence post-hearing.
A real-world fix would be to delay
viating from OCR's guidance.
Notre Dame afforded an appeal process
the civil proceedings pending resolu* Gather all relevant information.
to the accused. However, the university's
tion of the criminal investigation and
Simon believed Notre Dame's critical
process did not allow consideration of
potential prosecution. Taking the OCR
failure was that its investigation and
additional evidence. In this case, that
letter at face value, however, a Title
discipline decision were based primarily
evidence was the balance of the text
IX-compliant university will not delay
on a group of text messages selectively
messages that directly contradicted the
much of anything. Although a short
provided by the accuser, and the school
evidence the school relied on.
pause in the disciplinary proceedings is
never reviewed, or even asked for, all
Simon was critical of the school's
clearly permissible for law enforcement
text messages between the two students. failure to consider the text messages in
to conduct basic investigative tasks, the
The remaining texts, which came to
general, and seemed particularly troulengthy delays we often see in the exterlight later, substantially contradicted the bled that the school failed to reconsider
nal world are unlikely.
allegations and Notre Dame's findings,
its decision once those came to light.
Similarly, OCR guidance allows for
and called into question the discipline
Colleges and universities have been
attorneys to participate for all parties,
of the respondent.
encouraged by OCR policy statements
but encourages schools to limit partici* Provide the accused with sufto limit procedural protections for acpation. Though stated only in reference
ficient access to evidence. Simon was
cusers in Title IX investigations. Howto direct questioning by the parties, the
particularly critical of the fact that the
ever, such protections are embedded in
Dear Colleague letter raises the concern accused was not provided with sufficient our nation's legal traditions.
that cross-examination of a complainaccess to the investigative file before the
To provide a fair process to all parant "may be traumatic or intimidating,
hearing. The accused had only days to
ties, and to comply with the law and
thereby possibly escalating or perpetuat- review hundreds of pages of documents
avoid litigation, institutions must make
ing a hostile environment."
before the hearing.
sure that their effort to comply with
www.universitybusiness.com/subscribe
* Provide meaningful participaOCR's guidance does not discard baChoosing the evidentiary standard
tion in hearings. This is the area of
sic procedural protections during the
Finally, the Dear Colleague letter mangreatest tension between OCR and
course of investigations.
dates that institutions use a "preponderJudge Simon. As noted, the tenor of the
ance of the evidence" standard-the
Dear Colleague letter encourages instiJack Sharman and Brandon K. Essig are partlowest standard applicable-to prove
tutions to limit cross-examination of an
ners in the white collar criminal defense and
the accuser's allegations. The problem is
accuser, but the judge felt Notre Dame's
corporate investigations practice at the law
this: A student can be found by the inpolicy-which allowed the accused only firm Lightfoot, Franklin & White LLC. Clint
stitution to have committed a sex crime
to submit written questions and preSpeegle is an associate in the firm's NCAA
at a hearing that resulted from an inves- vented any type of communication becompliance practice.

2018
June 4-6 * The Mirage, Las Vegas
www.universitybusiness.com

Call for presenters is open
ubtechconference.com/present

October 2017 | 59


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of University Business October 2017

University Business October 2017 - Cover1
University Business October 2017 - Cover2
University Business October 2017 - 1
University Business October 2017 - 2
University Business October 2017 - 3
University Business October 2017 - 4
University Business October 2017 - 5
University Business October 2017 - 6
University Business October 2017 - 7
University Business October 2017 - 8
University Business October 2017 - 9
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University Business October 2017 - Cover3
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