APPEALING A COLLEGE CODE FINDING

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Representing Your Rights After a College Disciplinary Finding

  • Case Results
  • Testimonials
  • List of Schools
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Case Results

Here are some representative results we’ve achieved for our clients.

Female complainant’s rights, health, and safety protected throughout lengthy proceedings

Our client was sexually assaulted by a male student acquaintance. We became involved to support our client in getting proper medical treatment, preserving and collecting evidence and witness testimony, and securing therapeutic support. We helped her understand and navigate the many complex options available to her, including a criminal complaint, an informal complaint process, a formal complaint process, or doing nothing. We guided her through the informal process and then the formal process, including interviews with various school and law enforcement officials, and worked closely with the school to put in place appropriate accommodations ensuring that all interviews and hearings did not retraumatize her. The male student was found responsible and was expelled.

Large private university

Witness to sexual violence protected from intimidation

We represented a female witness to a dating violence case on campus who was being pressured to speak with the police and the school investigators about a violent matter she had witnessed on her dorm floor. We immediately communicated on her behalf to the local police, school administrators, and the Title IX investigators to protect her right to choose to not testify and ensure her safety on campus. She was very relieved not to be pressured by the school, the title IX office or the police to attend the hearing and testify about fellow students.

Small private college

Investigation of sexual assault complaint concludes with no charges filed

Our client contacted us immediately upon receiving notice by his school that a claim of sexual assault was made against him by a female student. We assisted him in preparing his detailed answer to the complaint, and then prepared him and accompanied him to his interview with the campus safety police officers. We worked with the school Title IX administrators and helped our client find evidence to show inconsistencies with the complaint. The complainant withdrew her complaint when presented with these inconsistencies and then recanted. The investigation ended and our client was not charged with anything.

Midsized private college

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Client Testimonials

I was introduced to Attorney Duffy by my criminal defense attorney because I was fighting both a criminal charge and a conduct code violations charge. Felice's office responded right away and she and I met by Zoom video. She and her team were respectful, professional and super knowledgeable. They made everything clear and easily understandable. They knew exactly what questions to ask the school officials to get them to focus on the facts that supported my case. I was incredibly well prepared. I knew what I was going to say before I went in to my interviews and how to react to the many questions that would have tripped me up. I got probation, which was definitely the best possible outcome and I couldn’t have gotten that without Attorney Duffy’s help.

College Junior

“When your kid is accused of a serious conduct code violation at his college, you quickly learn that there’s a whole different set of rules in place than in the real world. There are no legal standards, no assurances of a “fair trial.” You're presumed guilty and you have to backtrack and prove why you’re NOT guilty. We pretty quickly realized that we needed strong legal representation and guidance. Our son was completely falsely accused and we were ready to dig in to clear his name.

Felice's truly unique background and deep experience with navigating the school’s process was amazing. She made it clear that our son was the client, not us (his parents). She worked with him extensively and earned his total trust. He felt empowered that he had the right person in his corner to defend him. Felice gave our whole family a sense a calm and confidence.

Thanks to incredibly hard work by Felice and her team, our son was found “not responsible” (meaning innocent of any wrongdoing). The outcome was everything we could have hoped for.

I have already recommended Felice to a friend who’s son was caught up in a serious, very complicated conduct code charge, and I will continue to recommend her to any student or parent without reservation.”

Parent of a private college senior

“I selected the firm after doing extensive research trying to locate an attorney that specializes in sexual assault cases on university campuses. Late one night I emailed her for a consult just to see what she had to say. By 6:30am the next morning she had already emailed me back leaving her information for me to call her. I was impressed by her promptness and early morning response. Our criminal attorney informed our family that this simply wasn’t his specialty and strongly recommended we hire someone who really understood how university disciplinary systems work.

In our culture, we are not often trusting and it took a huge step of faith to consider someone we didn’t know (much less one from out of state) to defend our son.

Based on her collegiate athletic background I felt that she would have a better understanding of our case as our son is a D1 athlete. Based on that and her professional accomplishments I felt like she was driven and determined and she clearly had the ability to understand the laws associated with Title IX.

Bottom line is that our son was found 100% not responsible (meaning not guilty) of the extremely serious charges that were brought against him by a female student.

Felice Duffy and her team were professional, focused, responsive and did a great job throughout the entire stressful ordeal. When we think about how badly and unfairly our son might have been treated by the school, we truly count our blessings that we found Ms. Duffy.”

Parent of a College Sophomore, Ohio

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Schools Where We've Handled Cases

Here are just some of the schools where we’ve represented students, faculty, coaches, and staff:

  • Amherst College
  • Arkansas State University
  • Bowling Green State University
  • Charter Oak State College
  • Colgate University
  • College of the Holy Cross
  • Columbia University
  • Connecticut College
  • Dartmouth College
  • Fairfield University
  • Flagler College
  • Florida State University
  • Guilford College
  • Howard University
  • Illinois Institute of Technology
  • Indiana University
  • Lesley University
  • Marist College
  • Marquette University
  • Miami University
  • Mississippi University
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • Plymouth State University
  • Quinnipiac University
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Rice University
  • Sacred Heart University
  • South Carolina State University
  • St. John's University
  • St. Lawrence University
  • Syracuse University
  • Swarthmore College
  • Tallahassee Comm. College
  • Touro University
  • Trinity College
  • Tufts University
  • University of Connecticut
  • University of Kansas
  • University of Mass. Med. School
  • University of Miami
  • University of Missouri
  • University of Northern Colorado
  • University of Texas
  • University of Virginia
  • University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
  • Utah University School of Medicine
  • Vassar College
  • Virginia Wesleyan University
  • Washington University, St. Louis
  • Wesleyan University
  • Westfield State University
  • Western Washington University
  • Wheaton College
  • Yale University

If a disciplinary board decides that you violated the college code in some way, the finding will go on your academic record and you may face one or more sanctions. Having a mark on your record can affect your ability to get accepted into additional educational programs or even receive certain professional licenses down the road. Sanctions for serious misconduct allegations – such as sexual assault – can include suspension or expulsion. It can then be difficult to get into another school and may impact your entire future.

Because of the serious implications of disciplinary sanctions at colleges and universities, it is important to examine the possibility of an appeal. You should discuss your options with an experienced college code attorney as soon as possible.

Who Gets an Appeal?

Schools are not required by law to provide the opportunity for students to appeal disciplinary findings. However, most schools do provide a process for appeals, at least for certain types of violations. Each school may have a different process with different requirements and deadlines, so you should always be aware of the specific policy at your college or university.

Title IX governs sexual misconduct cases on college and university campuses as part of its protections against sex discrimination in education. The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) provides guidance to schools regarding Title IX compliance, including appeals. When it comes to sexual misconduct cases, most schools provide both the complainant and the respondent the opportunity to appeal a finding they believe is unfair or inaccurate. The previous OCR guidance stated that Title IX required schools to allow appeals to both parties if they allowed appeals at all.

The newest guidance from 2017, however, allows schools to decide whether they allow appeals for no parties, both parties, or only the responding party. This not only conflicts with the previous official OCR guidance but also seems to allow schools to have different rules and policies for students of different genders, which violates Title IX. If your school has an unfair appeals policy, you should have an experienced education attorney examine the situation.

The Appeals Process

The first step in a college code appeal is to decide whether you want to appeal the finding, the severity of the sanctions, or both and determine which grounds for appeal are allowed by the school. If you were adjudicated guilty of something you did not do or the findings were otherwise inaccurate, you may want to appeal the entire decision of the disciplinary board. In some cases, however, you may not necessarily disagree with the findings but may believe that the sanctions are too harsh and are disproportionate to the violations. In that situation, you may be able to file an appeal of just those sanctions.

Colleges and universities can have a wide range of disciplinary sanctions. Some may include mandatory writing assignments and other minor requirements, which may not be worth appealing. Others may include probation, disqualification from athletics or other activities, suspension, or expulsion. Sanctions may have collateral consequences beyond the sanction itself. For example, if you cannot play sports, you may lose your athletic scholarship or a suspension may cause you to lose financial aid. This may prohibit you from finishing your education altogether. Your future may be on the line and it may be worth filing an appeal.

As mentioned, your school will have its own rules for appeals, which can be complicated and strict. Some schools give you only a few days to prepare and file your appeal, so it is wise to have legal assistance as soon as you learn of the finding – if not before. An experienced college code attorney can ensure that your appeal meets all requirements and sets forth a persuasive argument to overturn the finding or sanctions.

An experienced lawyer can also examine whether your school violated your due process rights, which are protected by both Title IX and the Constitution of the United States. In such cases, an appeal may need to take the form of an administrative complaint or even a civil lawsuit.

Common College Code Violations

Each school will have its own college code with its own violations. While some schools may have significantly stricter rules than others, some of the more common college code violations include the following:

While having a beer in your dorm room may seem harmless at the time, the situation can become significantly more stressful if you then face an alcohol violation. In many cases, having an attorney’s help from the beginning of the process can help you avoid a finding of guilt in the first place.

How an Attorney Can Assist You

In any situation, you want to ensure that your appeal is as strong as possible and that it adheres to your college or university’s rules. This may be the one chance you have to keep your education on track after a disciplinary finding, so you want to make the most of it by hiring the right legal representation. Not every school allows a lawyer to be present during disciplinary or appeal hearings. If this is the case at your school, you should still have the counsel of an attorney and assistance preparing you for your hearing, as well as preparing and filing your appeal.

Contact a College Code Defense Attorney for Help Today

The highly knowledgeable Conduct Code lawyers of Duffy Law have extensive experience with college disciplinary cases, including Title IX complaints of sexual misconduct. We fully understand the legal rights of students and work to protect the rights of our clients at every stage of their case. We have represented hundreds of students facing allegations of college code violations and we can advise you of your options. Whether you have recently been accused of a violation, believe your Title IX rights were violated, or would like to discuss appealing a finding, please call our office at 203-946-2000 or contact us online to discuss your case today.

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