• Internal Investigations,  Parallel Proceedings,  Title IX

    Title IX: Fair Campus, Foul Weather

    With Education Secretary Betsey Devos much in the news  over possible changes to the Dear Colleague letter promulgated by the DOE’s Office of Civil Rights, this note by me and my Lightfoot colleagues  Brandon Essig and Clint Speegle in University Business is timely: High-profile lawsuits, OCR investigations and new congressional legislative interest have all conspired to mean that colleges and universities ignore the Dear Colleague situation to their peril. Unlike the disciplinary process for a cheating scandal, the resolution of a sexual assault case is a classic “parallel-proceedings” scenario. At any moment there may be an administrative proceeding (by the university), as well as a criminal investigation (by external law enforcement)…

  • Presumption of Innocence,  Social Media,  Trials, Judges and Jurors

    “Fantastic Lies” and Corporate Criminal Prosecution

    When the past is dug up in documentaries (or docudramas), events are often sensationalized.  This practice is of long pedigree: Shakespeare was not above amping up an old story when it suited his needs.  Unfortunately, few filmmakers are at Shakespeare’s level, and the sensationalism ends up being no more than that.  The viewer has no better sense of the past than he did when he began.  The only sense the viewer has is the sense that she has been had. On the other hand, from time to time a documentary digs up the past but cools down the facts, making them approachable in a way that would have been impossible…

  • Due Process,  Parallel Proceedings

    The Old College Try, and The New College Tribunal

    In disciplinary proceedings involving claims of sexual assault, universities continue to find themselves in an intolerable situation, caught in a lawyer-triangle of the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, student-complainants and the student-defendants. In part, at least, as a result of OCR’s “Dear Colleague” letter to colleges and universities about Title IX and disciplinary proceedings, there has been an upsurge in reported instances of sexual assault on campus. At the same time, there has been a sharp increase in lawsuits brought by student-respondents (that is, the male students who are accused), as this Wall Street Journal article details:  In Campus Rape Tribunals, Some Men See Injustice. The scenario set…

  • Internal Investigations,  Parallel Proceedings,  Universities

    Title IX, University Discipline, Sexual Assault and Parallel Proceedings

    A short — 140 seconds — note on the thickets of Title IX, sexual assault, university discipline and parallel procedures: University Discipline, Sexual Assault and Parallel Proceedings from LFW on Vimeo. Here’s a longer written piece: Dear Colleagues All: University Discipline, Sexual Assault and The Department of Education And, should anyone doubt the human costs involved in the mishandling of such investigations, one only need to recall disgraced prosecutor Mike Nifong and the Duke lacrosse case, as highlighted by Ed Bradley and 60 Minutes:

  • Parallel Proceedings,  Universities

    Dear Colleagues All: University Discipline, Sexual Assault and The Department of Education

    Title IX. Crime. Sexual assault. University disciplinary procedures. Civil litigation. Enormous amounts of money. The Fifth Amendment. And that’s all before you hire a lawyer. This is a perilous time for university disciplinary systems and those who administer them, especially with regard to claims of sexual assault.  A college or university can find itself in the midst of – indeed, at the helm of – a set of quasi-criminal parallel proceedings that can make the school liable to student complainants, student respondents and federal enforcement authorities. How does this happen, and what are the factors to keep in mind to minimize that exposure? Disciplinary systems and educational missions have been…