Helpful Note for Attorneys

While attorney’s have in depth understanding of the American legal system, there are some differences between the legal system they know and the student conduct process. These differences are outlined here along with informative court cases that inform our understanding of the student conduct process.

Foundations of a Campus Disciplinary Process

Courts have consistently delineated the right of academic communities to discipline students for behavior that violations the Student Conduct Code, independent of any criminal process and regardless of the outcome of any criminal investigation.

The courts have also determined and defined the differences in due process between an educational institution and a criminal system, as follows:

“… the attempted analogy if student discipline to criminal proceedings against juveniles and adults is not sound. The nature and proceedings of the (campus) disciplinary process… should not be required to conform to the federal processes of criminal law, which are far from perfect, and designed for circumstances and ends unrelated to the academic community. By a judicial manage to impose on the academic community and student discipline the intricate, time-consuming, sophisticated procedures, rules, and safeguards of criminal law would frustrate the teaching process and render the institutional control impotent.”

44 F.R.D. (142) (W.D. Mo.)

General Order on Judicial Standards of Procedures and Substance of Student Discipline in Tax-Supported Institutions of Education

A number of landmark cases have helped establish the basic rules and standards of due process required in university disciplinary processes.

Related Legal Cases:

Landmark Cases:

Dixon v. Alabama Board of Education, 294 F. 2d 150 (5th Cir,1961)

Esteban v. Central Missouri State College, 415 F.2d 1077 (8th Cir. 1993)

Goss v. Lopez, 419 U.S. 565, 579 (1975)

Osteen v. Henley, 13 F.3d 221 (7th Cir, 1993)

Additional Cases:

The cases maybe be applicable to and helpful in understanding the student disciplinary process versus the criminal process.

Gorman v. University of Rhode Island, No. 86-2101, U.S. Court of Appeals, first circuit, 837 F.2d 7; 1988 U.S. App. Lex’s 402, January 19, 1988, decided.

Ingraham v. Wright, No. 75-6527, Supreme Court of U.S., 430 U.S. 651; 97s.Ct. 1401; U.S. Lexis 74; 51 L.Ed. 2d 711, argued November 2-3, 1976, April 9, 1977, decided.

Paine v. Board of Regents of the University of Texas System, No. 72-2871, U.S. Court of Appeals, fifth circuit, 474 F.2d. 1397; 1973 U.S. App. Lexos 11210, March 9, 1973, decided.

Slaughter v. Brigham Young University, No. 74-1208, U.S. Court of Appeals, tenth circuit, 514 F.2d 622; 1975 U.S. App. Lexis 15178, April 14, 1975, decided.

Soglin v. Kauffman. 418 F.2d 163; (7th Cir; 1969).

Relevant Readings on Campus Disciplinary Processes

Kaplin, William A. and Barbara A. Lee. The Law and Higher Education, Third Ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1997.

Kaplin, William A. and Barbara A. Lee. A Legal Guide for Student Affairs Professionals, Third Ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1997.

Patterson, Brent G. ed and William A. Kibler., ed. The Administration of Campus Discipline: Student Organization and Community Issues. Asheville, NC: College Administration, 1998.

Picozzi, James M. University Disciplinary Process: What’s Fair, What’s Due, and What You Don’t Get. The Yale Law Journal. Vol. 96: 2131, 1987.

Differences between Criminal Processes and Campus Disciplinary Processes

In each of the preceding cases, courts have clarified the differences between a criminal proceeding and a campus disciplinary system, as well as setting the minimal procedural safeguards necessary in a campus proceeding. Some more significant differences are listed below:

Burden of Proof

Criminal: Beyond a reasonable doubt

Campus:  Preponderance of evidence

Evidentiary Standard

Criminal: Strict rules of evidence apply

Campus: Allows all reasonable evidence, including hearsay

Right to Counsel

Criminal: Yes

Campus: Yes – each student is encouraged to have an advisor (who can be an attorney) through the conduct process

Basis of Charges Against Students

Criminal: Violation of the law

Campus: Violation of the Student Code of Conduct

Disciplinary Philosophy

Criminal: Penalties are designed to punish

Campus: Sanctions are designed to be more educational than punitive

Outcomes of Process

Criminal: Found to be guilty or innocent

Campus: Found to be ‘responsible’ or ‘not responsible’ for a violation of the Student Conduct Code

Right of Appeal

Criminal: System provides for appeals

Campus: An appeal process is allowed through the Student Conduct Code for some cases

Double Jeopardy

Criminal: Cannot be tried twice criminally for the same offense

Campus: Does not apply since campus judicial processes are administrative, not criminal

For additional information, please see our FAQ section for lawyers.

This page was developed with resources from Eastern Michigan University’s Student Judicial Services.