School Administrative Hearings

When issues of crimes on campuses such as sexual assault arise, many schools have an administrative hearing internally that students attend to present their case. This differs from pressing criminal charges in court because the administrative hearing does not involve a professional judge or a randomly selected jury and does not have the punishment options available in a criminal trial. Instead, an administrative hearing typically involves specific members of staff previously chosen to sit on a panel alongside a couple of carefully chosen students. All involved in such hearings are uniquely qualified in to hear the topic at hand, whether that is because of status within the university or experience with subject matter. The purpose of these hearings is to deal with the matter internally and then, if found guilty, to prescribe a punishment outside of the justice system. For example, many universities will use suspension or expulsion as a means of punishment.

Popular Alternative To A Criminal Trial

This alternative to a criminal trial is a very tempting option for many because the standard of determining responsibility in an Administrative Hearing is “preponderance of the evidence” as opposed to “beyond a reasonable doubt” in a criminal trial. This has resulted in many School Administrative Hearings return an affirmative determination of responsibility for the accused party, which later is not corroborated by a criminal trial. In the Saifullah Khan case from 2015 when he was accused of raping a fellow Yale student, he was found “not guilty” due to insufficient evidence. However, the campus panel or administrative hearing body, had already found the evidence sufficient enough for them and had instated such punishment they saw fit.

This discrepancy is clearly an issue because one’s character is forever tainted, even though one is not found guilty by the criminal justice system and by the law. School administrative hearings and the criminal trail usually runs parallel to one another, with the administrative hearing finishing first since the procedural side of the criminal justice system favors a much longer, drawn out process than a school administrative hearing and involves extensive discovery disclosures and investigations by defense attorneys and prosecutors.

An Attorney’s Presence Is Crucial

Since we place our faith in determining guilt in the legal system that plays out in our courts and not in administrative hearings that are conducted by well chosen, but not necessarily qualified individuals in law, it is crucial to have an attorney present when going into one of these administrative hearings because the outcome can be detrimental to one’s life. Since the bar is so low in determining responsibility in an administrative hearing, going into one without the support of an attorney can be the difference between the end in one’s educational career and the chance to wait to be heard in a fair trial. A guilty verdict from an administrative hearing does not have the same baring as one from a criminal trial, yet to the public eye, for many they are comparable. This is why it is imperative that one has the support of an attorney in the administrative hearing process as well as during a criminal trial. One can never be too careful when it comes to one’s future and weighing the ramifications one hearing can have on their whole lives.