Resources for Attorneys - FAQs for Attorneys
ATTORNEY GUIDE TO THE STUDENT DISCIPLINARY PROCESS
Q. I am representing a student in a conduct matter at University of Maine. How do I participate in the conduct process at the University?
A. Students are expected to take an active role in responding to allegations of misconduct. Therefore, it is in the student’s best interest to be engaged in the process. An attorney may be present during conduct proceedings to advise his/her client, but are not allowed to participate directly in the hearing. For example, an attorney is prohibited from questioning or cross-examining witnesses or “arguing” his/her client’s case. The Office of Community Standards, Rights, and Responsibilities prefers to communicate with the student, which is part of the educational experience. A third party, such as an attorney or parent, may receive information about the case or copies of correspondence if the student signs a release form.
Q. How do I access my client’s case file?
A. The student may review his or her case file during regular office hours, 8-5, Monday through Friday. Copies of case files are not provided as a matter of policy in order to protect confidentiality and the privacy of other students involved in the conduct matter. However, a student may permit a third party to review a redacted copy of the file if he/ she signs a release form.
Q. My client is charged with an off-campus crime. Can the Student Conduct process be postponed until the criminal matter is resolved?
A. It is in the best interest of the involved student and the campus community to address complaints in a timely fashion. The disciplinary process is not criminal in nature and findings of responsibility do not include criminal penalties. Therefore, double jeopardy does not apply to disciplinary sanctions, and delays do not fit the educational nature of the process and are only granted in extraordinary circumstances.
Q. I have advised my client not to participate in the conduct process until his/ her criminal matter is resolved. What is the University’s position on my client’s right to remain silent?
A. University of Maine may move forward with the conduct process in the student’s absence and make a determination of responsibility based on the case file and witness statements. Students may choose to remain silent recognizing that they give up their opportunity to explain their side of the story.
Q. What is the University of Maine’s interest in my client’s off-campus conduct?
A. University of Maine has retained the right to discipline students for off-campus conduct that is detrimental to the University’s mission. The Standards of Conduct for Students states that students are expected to uphold these standards both on and off campus and acknowledge the university’s authority to take disciplinary action. The purpose of the standards and processes is to educate students and protect the welfare of the community.
Q. What is the burden of proof in a student conduct hearing?
A. The burden of proof in conduct hearings is a preponderance of the evidence. A student will be found responsible for the alleged misconduct if it is more likely than not he /she violated the University’s rules or regulations.
Q. Does the disciplinary process at the University of Maine comply with procedural due process?
A. Institutions of higher education do not function as courts of law; therefore, the conduct proceedings are less formal and weighted toward the educational process. Nevertheless, conduct procedures at the University of Maine comply with the Due Process Clause’s essential requirements of notice and an opportunity to be heard.
For more information about the conduct process, please consult the Student Conduct Code, or contact David Fiacco at 207-581-1406.