Title IX/College Disciplinary Practice - Warshaw Burstein LLP | <em >Doe v. Regents of the University of California</em >, 28 Cal.App.5th 44 (2018)
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  • Doe v. Regents of the University of California, 28 Cal.App.5th 44 (2018)
    11/18/2018
    The Court of Appeal of the State of California Second Appellate District Division Six found that UCSB denied student due process by failing to provide the accused with access to critical evidence, and not allowing adequate opportunity to cross examine witnesses or present evidence in their own defense.
                  
    John Doe was suspended from the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) for two years after being found guilty of sexual misconduct in violation of UCSB’s Student Conduct Code.  Jane Roe alleged John sexually assaulted her while she was asleep on a mattress against the living room wall.  John claimed that he was intoxicated and had merely lied down fully clothed on top of the covers with his back to Jane in order to rest.  Two eyewitnesses were talking and sitting on the couch a couple feet away, and testified no assault had happened.  Two days after the alleged assault, Jane was medically examined by the Santa Barbara County Sexual Assault Response Team (SART).  The SART report was obtained by campus police investigating the complaint, and the detective informed school officials that a notation within the report was consistent with the allegations.  This notation from the SART report was critical to the committee finding John guilty of sexual misconduct.
     
    At the hearing, John provided evidence of the room layout; eyewitness testimony that the assault could not have happened without them noticing from just a couple feet away; and testimony on his genetic neurological disorder that would have made nearly impossible to perform the acts alleged.  However, the committee selectively applied the rules of evidence to prevent John from presenting certain evidence in his own defense, while allowing improper evidence against him.  John was denied the opportunity to present witnesses or cross-examine Jane about the side effects of her medication when combined with alcohol, including sleep paralysis and night terrors.  These side effects were consistent with John’s theory of the case, and witness statements from the night in question.  The full contents of the SART report were never provided to John, and what he was provided, he did not get until the day before the hearing.  John was not allowed the opportunity to cross-examine the detective about the full SART report, or whether the injuries noted could have been caused by something other than the alleged assault. 
     
    Where the determination of a case turns on the committee’s determination of the credibility of the witnesses, that credibility cannot be properly decided until the accused is given the opportunity to adequately respond to the accusation.  This includes giving the accused the opportunity to effectively cross-examine witnesses; providing access to critical evidence such as the SART report here; and the ability to present evidence in their own defense. 
    CATEGORY: Due Process