Lawyers Defending College Students Against Alcohol, Drug, Sexual Assault, Plagiarism and Other Violations in Colleges, Universities & Courts

January 2014

Cross My Heart & Hope to Die: Testimony in Student Conduct Hearings

Approaching the 12-hour mark of a student conduct hearing at a major university I am reminded of lyrics from a Maroon Five song (“cross my heart and hope to die” from “One More Night”) as I listen to the disorganized and clumsy questioning of witnesses by the hearing panel. Holding aside the obvious question of why educational institutions believe that any hearing could be anything but dysfunctional after sitting for nearly 12 hours straight with 30 minute break, an even more troubling basic question is: why don’t the schools uniformly put their witnesses under oath? 

Double Jeopardy

College students facing both criminal prosecution and university prosecution may feel that they are victims of double-jeopardy because they are prosecuted twice for the same offense. And the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution indeed forbids any person from being “twice put in jeopardy of life or limb” [1]. But courts have interpreted the ancient prohibition against double jeopardy as primarily prohibiting multiple criminal prosecutions against the same person by the same sovereign. 

Under Penalty of Law: Subpoena Power in Student Defense Cases

Students facing conduct and academic honor code violations lack the most basic tool by which to defend themselves: subpoena power. [1]

One of the worst aspects of the student defense system is that the accused lacks the power to compel testimony and production of documents.

Without this ability, the accused student and their lawyers are left to assemble witnesses essentially through cajoling. While friends of an accused may agree to take time out from their own schedules to help a friend, witnesses to violations are not always friends of an accused.