In Title IX sexual assault cases, due process, impartiality, and fairness are essential to maintaining integrity and securing fair results. With the removal of Obama-era Title IX guidelines, there's been an emphasis placed on respondent rights in the midst of higher education adjudication processes. Many have accused the former administration's guidance of being grossly impartial to accusers. They claim that the “Dear Colleague” letter created an incentive for overzealous administrators to completely disregard the rights of the accused while conceiving ample protections for the accused, and ultimately perpetuating an unfair system.
Schools have felt immense pressure from people on both sides of the spectrum to improve how they approach and handle these processes. Hence why it's not surprising that under new guidelines - proposed and implemented by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos - some institutions are deciding to take an alternative course of action that alleviates them from accountability. Instead of leaving Title IX investigations in the hands of college authorities or panels, they're choosing to hire outside parties to do the work for them. It's become increasingly popular for lawyers and law enforcement agents to conduct investigations at schools, and for retired judges to oversee disciplinary proceedings.
Over the years, lawsuits initiated by both complainants and respondents alleging discrimination have been filed against schools. Title IX adjudication processes do present potential conflict of interests for colleges to indulge. Some students are merely dissatisfied with how investigations and hearings are conducted. They claim that schools lack the appropriate tools, investigative prowess, and experience to resolve these cases fairly. In agreement with this sentiment, some schools have decided to let the well-trained professionals handle these cases.
One of the main reasons why colleges have taken this step is to properly assess and determine evidentiary standards. For people with no knowledge of weighing evidence based on the “preponderance of evidence” standard, this concept is difficult to grapple with, let alone apply to intricate sexual misconduct cases. Now that the Department of Education will allow for students to implement either the “preponderance of evidence” or the “clear and convincing” evidence standard, it complicates these processes entirely.
A notable critique of outsourcing investigations is that sometimes the public has the tendency to confuse campus hearings with a courtroom. Institutions have to constantly reiterate that these are two distinguished proceedings that call for different practices. Critics claim that including lawyers, judges, and law enforcement agents in these processes muddy the waters and contribute to the confusion.
But overall, institutions who outsource claim that their efforts have been successful.
Title IX Attorney Helping Clients Nationwide
The only way to make sure your voice is heard and your rights are upheld is to retain a student defense attorney. National Title IX attorney Joseph D. Lento has the skill, experience, and expertise to help you preserve your entitled rights under Title IX and your school's policy. For a case evaluation or more information about his representation, contact him online or give him a call at 888-535-3686 today.