Disciplinary Procedure Policy
Filing of Allegations
- All allegations of student misconduct shall be filed with the Dean of Students. The Dean of Students may request the allegations be filed in writing. Upon receipt of such allegations, the Dean of Students shall, within a period not to exceed fourteen days absent good cause, refer the matter to the Chair or, if there are co-Chairs, a co-Chair (hereinafter both referred to as Chair) of the Faculty Administrative Committee. If, however, the Dean of Students reasonably believes that the allegations, even if true, would not constitute sanctionable conduct, then the Dean of Students shall consult with an academic associate dean regarding the matter. If the academic associate dean agrees with the Dean of Students, then the Dean of Students shall not refer the matter to the Chair and shall take no further action. If the academic associate dean disagrees, then the matter shall be referred to the Chair. Upon referring the matter to the Chair, the Dean of Students shall notify the Assistant Dean for Academic Services of the filing of the allegations.
Initial Review and Issuance of Complaint
- Upon receipt of the allegations from the Dean of Students, the Chair shall initially review the matter after which he or she, in the exercise of his or her sole discretion, shall either (a) refer the matter to a Fact Finding Subcommittee (hereinafter Subcommittee), or (b) dismiss the matter. If the Chair refers the matter to the Subcommittee, the Chair shall issue a Complaint of Student Misconduct to the student informing him/her of the allegations and that the matter has been referred to the Subcommittee. The Chair also shall provide a copy of the Complaint to the Subcommittee and to the Assistant Dean for Academic Services.
- The Chair may dismiss the matter sua sponte if he or she finds it to be meritless or insubstantial. If the Chair does so, he or she shall provide a written summary of the allegations and reasons for dismissal to all members of the Faculty Administrative Committee, the Dean, Academic Associate Deans, Dean of Students, and Assistant Dean for Academic Services. If, within a reasonable period of time as set by the chair but not less than fourteen days, any two people within the group described in the previous sentence request further investigation, then the Chair shall refer the matter to the Subcommittee and issue a Complaint of Student Misconduct to the student and forward a copy of such Complaint to the Subcommittee and to the Assistant Dean for Academic Services.
Fact Finding Subcommittee
- The Fact Finding Subcommittee shall consist of five members of the Faculty Administrative Committee as selected by the Chair. The Chair shall designate one of those five members to serve as chairperson of the Subcommittee.
- The procedure before the Subcommittee shall be private, informal, and confidential. The Chair shall present the evidence concerning the allegations. The student shall not be present during the fact-finding proceeding, except that the student shall have the opportunity to appear to present evidence and to speak on his or her own behalf. Counsel or another advisor to the student may be present when the student appears before the Subcommittee, solely for the purposes of observing the proceedings and advising the student, and may make a brief statement at the discretion of the Subcommittee chairperson.
- The Subcommittee shall determine whether sanctionable conduct has been established by clear and convincing evidence. A vote of four of the five members of the Subcommittee (or three of four if one member is absent) shall be required to find sanctionable conduct. If it finds that no sanctionable conduct has been established, it shall dismiss the complaint. If it finds that such conduct has been established, it shall report to the Dean the nature of the conduct found with a recommendation as to the appropriate sanction or other disposition. A copy of the Subcommittee’s report shall be sent to the student. Such report shall include the Subcommittee’s findings of fact.
- If the student admits both the allegations and that those allegations constitute sanctionable conduct, the Subcommittee shall hear the evidence or a summary thereof, consider the circumstances and any statement the student wishes to make, and recommend a sanction or other disposition to the Dean. A copy of the Subcommittee’s report shall be sent to the student. Such report shall include the Subcommittee’s findings of fact.
- If the Subcommittee finds sanctionable conduct, or the student admits such conduct, the Dean shall meet with the student concerning the Subcommittee’s report and its recommended sanction. The student may bring counsel or another advisor to the meeting. The Dean shall discuss the recommended sanction with the student, and, unless paragraph 9 applies, inform the student of the sanction that he or she will recommend to the Law School Faculty.
- If the Subcommittee’s recommended sanction or other disposition includes neither suspension nor dismissal from the law school, such recommended sanction or other disposition is unanimous (whether by a vote of four out of four or five out of five, as the case may be), and the Dean agrees with the Subcommittee’s recommendation, then, unless the student requests a formal hearing as provided in paragraph 10, the Dean shall impose the recommended sanction and the matter will not be reported to the Law School Faculty for final disposition as provided in paragraph 15. The Dean, however, shall advise the Law School Faculty of the student’s name, nature of the violation, and sanction imposed.
Formal Hearing Committee
- If the student contests the Subcommittee’s findings of fact, he or she may request that a formal Hearing Committee be appointed to hear the allegations. The student may request a formal hearing by filing a written request for such hearing within ten days of the meeting with the Dean described in paragraph 8. If the student does not request a formal hearing within such ten day period, the student shall have waived his/her right to such hearing. If, within such ten day period, the student files written notice with the Dean of his/her decision to waive a formal hearing, the matter may proceed immediately for disposition under paragraph 8 or 9, as the case may be.
- The Hearing Committee shall consist of five members appointed by the Dean from the faculty at large. The Dean shall appoint one of the five members as chairperson. No member of the Subcommittee may serve on the Hearing Committee. The student may challenge any member of the Hearing Committee for cause. Such challenges shall be resolved by the Dean.
- The formal hearing shall be closed, except for the parties and necessary staff, unless the student requests that the hearing be public. Formal rules of evidence shall not apply, but the chairperson may make such rulings as are necessary to ensure fairness and to expedite the proceedings. Witnesses will be sequestered unless otherwise agreed upon by the parties. Witnesses will be sworn by a notary public. The student may be represented by counsel and shall be entitled to present evidence and cross-examine witnesses. The allegations and supporting evidence shall be presented by the Chair or by counsel for the law school. If either the law school or the student intends to be represented by counsel, the other party shall be notified at least four days prior to the hearing. A taped or stenographic record shall be made of the proceedings. Opening and closing statements will be allowed. Members of the Hearing Committee may ask questions, but should exercise care not to take an adversarial role in the hearing.
- The Hearing Committee shall hear the evidence de novo and determine whether sanctionable conduct has been established by clear and convincing evidence. If it finds that no such conduct has been established, it shall dismiss the charges. If it finds that such conduct has been established, it shall report to the Dean the nature of the conduct found, with a recommendation as to the appropriate sanction. A vote of four of the five members of the Committee (or three out of four if one member is absent) shall be required to find sanctionable conduct. The Hearing Committee shall issue a written report containing its findings of fact. A copy of the Hearing Committee’s report shall be sent to the student.
- Findings of fact as made by the Hearing Committee shall be final.
- Except as provided in paragraph 9, the Law School Faculty shall have final authority to impose a sanction on a student for sanctionable conduct. Provided paragraph 9 does not apply, the Dean shall provide a written report of the matter to the Faculty, which report shall include the sanction recommendation of the Subcommittee, the Hearing Committee, if any, as well as his or her own recommendation.
- Provided paragraph 9 does not apply, the student shall have an opportunity to make a statement to the Faculty, in person or by counsel or another advisor on the issue of an appropriate sanction.
- Sanctions which may be imposed include but are not limited to a private reprimand, a public reprimand, probation, suspension, or dismissal from the law school. Any sanction more serious than a private reprimand shall become part of the student’s permanent transcript. Additional conditions may also be imposed where appropriate.
- The Office of the Dean shall maintain a file of all student disciplinary proceedings. Such file shall include a copy of the Complaint of Student Misconduct and all findings of fact and reports issued by the Subcommittee or a Hearing Committee, if any, the Dean’s recommendation, and the decision of the faculty, if any.
- If a student withdraws from the Law School while a disciplinary investigation or proceeding is pending, the following entry shall be made on the student’s transcript: “Withdrew while disciplinary proceeding pending.” A student who withdraws while a disciplinary investigation or proceeding for sanctionable conduct is pending will not be readmitted to the Law School except in extraordinary circumstances.
- The Registrar’s Office shall not issue an official transcript of the student between the time at which such office is notified by the Dean of Students that the matter has been referred to the Chair, as provided in paragraph 1, and a determination by the Chair as to whether a Complaint of Student Misconduct should issue as provided in paragraph 2.
- If the student requests an official transcript after the issuance of a Complaint of Student Misconduct but before final resolution of the matter, the transcript shall bear the legend “Complaint of Student Misconduct Filed – Decision Pending.
- Sanctionable conduct shall include any violation of the Suffolk University Law School Rules and Regulations including all conduct described in Regulation XI of said Rules and Regulations.
- Actions required by the Dean under these rules may be delegated by the Dean to an Academic Associate Dean.
- Law School Faculty or Faculty, as used in these rules, refers to faculty members entitled to vote at faculty meetings of the Suffolk University Law School Faculty.
- Any person who serves as counsel or advisor to the student as provided for in these rules may not be an employee of Suffolk University.
- Issues not specifically addressed by these rules or interpretations of these rules shall be resolved by the Dean in consultation with the Chair.
- Allegations of Student Misconduct which constitute violations of the Suffolk University Law School Sexual Harassment Policy and Guidelines shall be determined under that Policy and not under these Rules.
- If a student to whom a Complaint of Student Misconduct has been issued represents that he or she is under criminal investigation for the same or related conduct that comprises such Complaint, the student shall have the right at any stage of the proceeding to request that further proceedings be deferred until the resolution of the criminal matter without any adverse inference being drawn from that decision. Such request shall be granted.
- If a student to whom a Complaint of Student Misconduct has been issued is under criminal investigation or facing any criminal charge based on the same or related conduct, the Dean may place the student on administrative leave of absence for the period of time and under terms and conditions deemed necessary by the Dean.
Approved by the Faculty on October 22, 2009. Effective as of October 23, 2009.