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Federal Judge Axes a Provision of Title IX

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Oct 03, 2021 | 0 Comments

In July, a federal judge struck down a Title IX rule that will impact how universities conduct investigations. Civil rights groups had brought forward a lawsuit concerning this particular provision, and its removal from federal Title IX rules will have implications for universities and parties involved in campus sexual assault cases.

Which Rule Was Struck Down?

Previously, institutions of higher education were not allowed to consider any statements in a Title IX investigation if the statements weren't eligible for cross-examination. Only statements presented by witnesses, the plaintiff, and the respondent at the live hearing could be considered since each party would have the opportunity to cross-examine.

This rule meant that previous written statements concerning a case, given by police officers, nurses, or other witnesses who couldn't be present at the live hearing, could not be considered in the adjudication of a Title IX case. It also meant that an accused student's admission of guilt before the hearing couldn't be used if the accused student chose not to testify at the hearing.

Why Was This Rule Axed?

Advocates of sexual assault survivors argued that this rule worked against plaintiffs. Four organizations, including the National Women's Law Center, filed a lawsuit asking for further consideration on this provision. Judge William G. Young of the U.S. District Court of Massachusetts struck it down, saying that the Department of Education had failed to adequately consider outcomes.

Groups advocating for striking down this rule spoke with university administrators, who said the rule made for more burdensome procedures for sexual harassment complaints. It prevented them from conducting complete investigations of student allegations.

The Department of Education is reconsidering this rule, and while it does so, it's no longer in effect. The Department is supposed to issue a replacement rule by May 2022.

What Are the Implications of This Decision?

Without the requirement to consider evidence subject to cross-examination in place, statements taken outside of the hearing can be used to adjudicate a Title IX complaint. Any statements a respondent gives during meetings with university administrators before the hearing can be used to determine guilt. The plaintiff can also collect written or oral statements from witnesses without being present at the hearing.

While this rule seems to favor plaintiffs more than respondents, it gives respondents a fairer adjudication process. If you are accused of sexual assault on your university campus, you may also collect statements from witnesses to help support your case. You can also give a statement yourself before the hearing and refrain from testifying to avoid cross-examination.

Understanding Title IX Rule Changes

With each new presidential administration in the U.S., Title IX rules change. As a student, keeping up with the rules regarding Title IX can be difficult, and your university should have clear misconduct policies to help guide you. If you struggle to understand Title IX rules and worry about protecting your rights, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento and Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients nationwide. Attorney Lento and his team represent students and others in disciplinary cases and various other proceedings at colleges and universities across the United States. Attorney Lento has helped countless students, professors, and others in academia at more than a thousand colleges and universities across the United States, and when necessary, he and his team have sought justice on behalf of clients in courts across the nation. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide, and he can help you or your student address any school-related issue or concern anywhere in the United States.

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