If you have been called as a witness to a Title IX violation and can't seem to remember exactly what you heard or saw, you might be wondering if your testimony is helpful at all. The committees in charge of reviewing and investigating Title IX violations are interested in all possible relevant information from witnesses. Witnesses are therefore asked detailed, and sometimes personal, questions, including questions about incidents related to drug or alcohol use. As such, the committees tend to understand that witnesses may not clearly recall every aspect of the incident they were privy to. They just request that witnesses explain what they do recall fully, what they recall somewhat, and what they do not recall at all.
What to Expect as a Witness to Title IX Violation
To be a witness in a Title IX violation hearing, you will be called, emailed, or texted by either the accused student, the alleged victim, or the university to participate. It is important to note that you have no obligation to attend or participate but doing so can help the process move along. If you choose not to participate or refused to be cross-examined during the hearing, any information you provide cannot be relied upon by the committee overseeing the hearing.
Now, if you do decide to participate, the general order of the hearing will be as such: the complainant will testify first, followed by their witnesses. Then the accused student will testify, followed by their witnesses. Depending on who called you to testify, you will either go after the complainant or the accused student. Then the other side will have an opportunity to question you further.
Refreshing a Witnesses Memory
In courtrooms across the country, attorneys have to contend with witnesses who have forgotten exactly what they have seen or heard all the time. The witness's memory is then “refreshed” by the attorney. To properly “refresh” a witness's memory, the attorney will show the witness a piece of writing or an object (reports, notes, photos, or physical items). This writing or object doesn't have to have been created by the witness or even have to do with a particular incident, it just must refresh their memory so they can recall what they saw or heard at the time of the Title IX violation.
The same process is available for Title IX hearings, only the student or an attorney-advisor will be the one refreshing your memory so that you might recall more detail.
How an Attorney-Advisor Can Help
When you are called to participate in a Title IX hearing, it can feel very overwhelming, especially if you are unsure of what you heard or saw exactly. But don't fret, your testimony can still be helpful, especially if the accused student or their attorney advisor is able to refresh your memory prior to or during the hearing.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have helped hundreds of parties and witnesses prepare to testify in Title IX hearings. If you or someone you love has been accused of a Title IX violation or called to testify on a party's behalf, Attorney Lento and the Lento Law Firm Student Defense Team can help. Call 888-535-3686 today or schedule a consultation online.