The University of Michigan's attempts to defend its problematic Title IX hearing policies have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorneys' fees. In spite of its claims to the contrary, the school's status as a public institution means that Michigan taxpayers are paying the bills.
University of Michigan's Numerous Attempts to Defend its Title IX Policy
While its counterpart Michigan State University has borne the brunt of the criticism for its handling of Title IX law in the state, the University of Michigan has not accumulated a clean record. In fact, it was the University of Michigan that was slammed by an appellate federal court in Doe v. Baum for not allowing students accused of sexual misconduct to cross-examine their accuser.
Most recently, though, the University of Michigan has been accused of violating an accused student's due process rights by placing a hold on his degree and transcripts even before the Title IX investigation had been completed. The student had been accused of having non-consensual sex with the complainant in March 2018. Even though the investigation was still ongoing, the University of Michigan refused to release the accused student's academic documents, delaying his graduate school admission.
The case led to a federal lawsuit, which led to a judge ordering the release of the accused student's records. However, the lawsuit also claimed that the accused student's due process rights had been violated by University of Michigan's Title IX policy, so the release of the transcripts did not resolve the case, even after the college appealed the decision and lost.
Most recently, a federal judge ordered the president of the university, Mark Schlissel, to personally attend a settlement conference. The University of Michigan has appealed that ruling, as well.
Over $600,000 in Legal Fees, Already
Even though the case has only been ongoing for a year, and even though very little discovery and evidence gathering has been performed, a public records request by Ann Arbor News found that the University of Michigan has already accumulated $648,380 in legal fees to defend the case.
The news is especially disturbing, considering the fact that the University of Michigan is a public school that is largely funded with taxpayer money.
A spokesperson for the school claimed that the legal fees are paid by the university's insurance provider, so there was “no direct impact” on the school's fund that is supported by tax and tuition dollars. Of course, this overlooks the fact that the cost of an insurance premium is set by how much the insurer is likely to pay out: A history of huge legal fees will only increase the costs of insurance for years, to come.
Title IX Advisor and Defense With Joseph D. Lento
Joseph D. Lento is a national Title IX advisor and defense lawyer who legally represents students and faculty members who have been accused of sexual misconduct in higher education settings. Contact him online or call his law office at (888) 535-3686 for the legal help you need at this difficult time in your life.