Due Process

Court Says Purdue Violated Student's Due Process Rights

"Purdue's process fell short of what even a high school must provide to a student facing a days-long suspension."

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In a win for due process on college campuses, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that Purdue University violated the 14th Amendment rights of "John Doe," a college student accused of sexual misconduct.

The accusation was levied by another student, "Jane Doe," in April 2016, as Purdue has holding its Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Jane "alleged that in November 2015, she was sleeping with John in his room when she woke to him groping her over her clothes without her consent," the appeals court notes. "Jane told the university that John had engaged in other misconduct as well."

Jane never filed a formal complaint, but Purdue decided that it was going to investigate the claim. Katherine Sermersheim, Purdue's dean of students, informed John of the allegations against him in a letter. While the investigation was still underway, John was suspended from participating in the Navy ROTC program and subsequently banned from all buildings where Jane had class, as well as "barred from eating in his usual dining hall because Jane also used it," the court explains. 

"John steadfastly denied Jane's allegations," the court adds. But a three-person panel of Purdue's Advisory Committee on Equity "falsely claimed that he had confessed to Jane's allegations" and left out key elements of John's version of events.

That panel decided that John was guilty and gave him a one-year suspension, which caused him to be expelled from ROTC, thereby losing his scholarship and a potential future in the Navy. 

John subsequently sued Purdue, saying his rights had been violated: He wasn't told any of the specific evidence against him, he wasn't given an opportunity to cross-examine witnesses or call his own, and the panel decided in Jane's favor without ever speaking to her. He also alleged that Purdue has violated federal law by "discriminating against him on the basis of sex."

A lower court ruled that John had not shown sufficient evidence that his rights were violated. But a June 28 decision at the Seventh Circuit—written by Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who has been floated as a potential Supreme Court pick in the past—overruled that decision. 

"Purdue's process fell short of what even a high school must provide to a student facing a days-long suspension," Barrett writes. 

The judge points out that "at John's meeting with the Advisory Committee, two of the three panel members candidly admitted that they had not read the investigative report, which suggests that they decided that John was guilty based on the accusation rather than the evidence." 

Another key factor for the court is that the committee neither met with Jane in person nor received a statement from her. "It is unclear, to say the least, how Sermerheim and the committee could have evaluated Jane's credibility," writes Barrett. 

As David French notes in National Review, "Judge Barrett's opinion is a warning shot to campuses in her federal circuit—and, through persuasive authority, to campuses across the nation. Universities mix ideology and adjudication at their own peril."

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  1. Jane never filed a formal complaint

    What’s the matter Jane…chicken?

  2. Judge Amy Coney Barrett

    Otherwise known as Judge Foxy Sexypants, if you know what I mean.

  3. I thought Purdue was a relatively sane college , disappointing if Mitch Daniels allowed this farce.

  4. Universities mix ideology and adjudication at their own peril.

    Oberlin being a case in point.

  5. Maybe, just maybe, the tide will start to shift against extra-judicial punishments handed out by universities.

    1. No! Our country is in the midst of a civil war and it’s starting on college campuses. The only solution is violence! FIGHT THE LEFT!

      1. Yep. Nuke ’em ’till they glow!

    2. IMHO, the reason universities started policing sex and discrimination was because of Title IX (i.e., the federal government and executive branch). I agree, the tide has shifted, mostly thanks to Trump being in office and bureaucrats realizing they won’t court Trump by being oppressive. Trump did sign an EO that universities must comply with freedom of speech (or lose funding), and another on religious liberty.

  6. It seems from Wikipedia that Purdue is a public university – I guess I should have known that.

    1. It’s a land-grant university and a leader in Ag Science.

      1. So what kind of sex scandals do they *usually* have?

        1. I doubt over in the college of agriculture, especially the animal science department, that they’re having much of any sex scandals (well maybe some of the urban pre-vet students). Country girls tend to be made of sterner stuff and don’t get all bent out of shape over any little slight.

          1. I’m ashamed to say I was trying for a bestiality joke. You overestimated my good taste. 🙁

            1. I figured that’s where you were going but decided not to play along.

          2. They’re also quite willing to have a roll in the hay.

  7. The cis-hetero shitlord known as “Amy Coney Barrett” is obviously a rape apologist, and ardent enabler of the patriarchy, and gender traitor (and probably a devout racist). When she’s not busy denying climate change, and giving Nazi’s their legal cover to put children in cages, she promotes rape culture.. May she be shunned at future cocktail mixers, and disavowed by her alumni. Consider this her progressive ‘burn notice’..

    1. So – – – – –
      You agree she should be on the supreme court??

      1. Well.. probably, but I would need to hear her positions on Roe v,. Keller/McDonald, and Kelo before we confirm her, and then launch the milkshake barrage.

    2. You forgot to mention her sexual play dates with Trump.

    3. You’re the cishetero shitlord. They’re vaginatail parties!

  8. So now the district court must rehear the case? Or does it simply have to decide what relief John Doe is entitled?

    1. I think it goes to a jury now. There’s never been a hearing on the facts, so the court has to rely on the facts as alleged by the plaintiff. *If* the plaintiff can prove these facts, then he wins.

      The lower court would have let Purdue get away with it *even assuming the Plaintiff’s version was correct.* That option is gone, so now Purdue will have to see if it can contest the facts alleged by the plaintiff.

  9. I am ashamed of my alma mater.

  10. If you’re in a guys bed you’ve consented.

  11. […] Click here to view original story: Court Says Purdue Violated Student’s Due Process Rights […]

  12. Though they at least found a due process violation at the end, this decision is a bit of a sh*tshow:

    “John insists that the Indiana state courts have held that a student enrolled in a public institution has a property interest in continuing his education. He cites Reilly v. Daly, in which an Indiana court said: ‘It is without question that a student’s interest in pursuing an education is included within the Fourteenth Amendment’s protection of liberty and property and that a student facing expulsion or suspension from a public educational institution is therefore entitled to the protections of due process.’ 666 N.E.2d 439, 444 (Ind. Ct. App. 1996). But John’s reliance on
    Reilly is misplaced. To begin with, this cryptic sentence—the
    sum of what the case says on the topic—does not specify
    whether university disciplinary proceedings implicate liberty
    or property interests.”

    So the state court said that pursuing an education is included within the Fourteenth Amendment’s protection of liberty AND property, and the decision concludes that this “does not specify whether university disciplinary proceedings implicate liberty or property interests.”

    To make matters worse, it makes a few typically hardline conservative mistakes (frequently witnessed to the extremes in the Fourth Circuit) – first, it construes the current case law as requiring a statute to determine a property interest, which of course doesn’t square with Board of Regents v. Roth (U.S. 1972). The current requirements are ” existing rules or understandings that stem from an independent source SUCH AS state law.” The property right discussed in Roth had nothing to do with statues though (it related to a de facto tenure policy).

    In addition it takes the most extreme dicta from Paul v. Davis (U.S. 1976) – where the court, attempting to abrogate much of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, declared that there are no liberties in the United States except those which are created by statutes (and this one literally meant it – no existing rules or understandings “such as” or anything else). Of course, the ratio decidendi of Paul is “Stigma Plus” – primarily because Paul v. Davis remains the most patently fraudulent ruling since the slaughterhouse decisions…

    Long story short: not a great Supreme Court candidate.

  13. There’s due process, and there’s Pur-due process, ifyaknowhadimean. Heh, eh?

    I’ll see myself out.

  14. It’s a land-grant university and a leader in Ag Science.

    Lawrence Rutledge
    https://run3online.io/

  15. “Another key factor for the court is that the committee neither met with Jane in person nor received a statement from her. “It is unclear, to say the least, how Sermerheim and the committee could have evaluated Jane’s credibility,””

    ‘To be certain’, it was a well-conducted investigation!

  16. To me, the Purdue’s actions and the lower court decision was completely lacking in any common sense.

    Judge Barrett framed this properly, IMO: “Purdue’s process fell short of what even a high school must provide to a student facing a days-long suspension”.

    To destroy a young man’s future over this is unconscionable.

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