Monday, May 13, 2013

Cornell eliminated due process

I have pointed out that the constitutional right to confront witnesses is hanging on by a thread in the US Supreme Court, with Justice Scalia being the most vocal defender.

The accused do not necessarily have those rights outside criminal court, and federal regulators are pressuring colleges to weaken those rights. Here is the latest:
Cornell is planning to change its disciplinary procedure for sexual assault claims by dispensing with the requirement that witnesses testify in person. It will, instead, allow written statements of witnesses. See here and here. The change is a significant blow to the rights of the accused. It flies in the face of judicial authority holding that in college disciplinary cases that are essentially credibility contests, the cross-examination of witnesses is essential to a fair hearing. An accused student cannot cross-examine an affidavit.

The change is being made to benefit accusers. The basis for the change seems to be anecdotal evidence suggesting that accusers may find hearings intimidating, and, therefore, they may be deterred from reporting misconduct. Narda Terrones, a member of the school's Women’s Resource Center, explained: “The most terrifying thing is getting in front of the panel and telling their story in front of the person they are accusing.”

The right to confront one's accuser is fundamental to due process. Its roots extend back to Roman law. In our modern criminal and civil jurisprudence, there are expansive protections to guard against the admission of hearsay evidence that can't be cross-examined.
I believe that people should be innocent until proven guilty. Sometimes I think that I am in the minority on this.


Anonymous said...

Here's a great article about consequences of abbreviated due process called "Fake Lab Report Could Land Alleged Rapist $150,000 Settlement":

The website is a rather interesting local muckraker. There are a number of interesting comments with links, including one at the bottom to an article in the major local newspaper.

Anonymous said...

This isnt an abbreviated judicial process, its a rule violation for an institution.

The remedy if you feel an institution has violated your rights is to sue. But you are not guaranteed the right to confront an accuser in a hearing like this. Even if its a public institution like SUNY but Cornell is a private institution and can hold discipline and honor code hearings in a consistent manner as long as they publish the rules and admister them fairly and consistently and in a non-discriminatory manner.

Anonymous said...

There's no 'Due Process' in Santa Cruz County's Family Law Court. You can be defamed in the court and not be able to do anything. While I was not a party to the proceedings (son vs ex-wife), her lies were rampant and I could do nothing. A narcissist, she lies easily, sweetly convincing anyone who will listen her that she is telling the truth. The Court did not check facts or even question me or anyone else as to her lies. 'Due Process' does not exist when the Court believes a manipulating liar.