Accused Student FAQ

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What is the difference between the trial for guilt and trial for sanction?

Although each trial follows the same format, the trial for guilt focuses strictly on whether or not the alleged events occurred, and if so, whether these events are in violation of the specific standards that have been charged.  For this reason, all witnesses and evidence are presented with regard to the specifics of the incident: (who, what, where, when).

The trial for sanction, on the other hand, is intended to discuss any mitigating factors and motives that led the accused to violate the standards in question.  During the trial for sanction the counselors may discuss past disciplinary records, character patterns, extra-curricular involvement, psychological distress, or any other extenuating circumstances.  The trial for sanction also provides the accused with an opportunity to express what they have learned from the incident.  The purpose of the trial for sanction is to arrive at an educational yet appropriate sanction aligned with the goals of the UJC.

What happens during questioning?

During the trial proceedings the Complainant, Accused, and any witnesses may be called to testify.  You will be asked questions first by your own counselor.  Opposing counselors have the ability to cross-examine witness, so expect questions from the opposing counselor too.  The judges on the trial panel may also ask you questions if they feel the need for any clarification.  The goal of the UJC is to find the truth and to formulate the appropriate response, so all of the questions that you are asked are asked in this light and are not meant to be intimidating or hostile in any way.  It is important to remember that the tenets of the Honor System do hold during UJC proceedings and you are expected to answer questions honorably.

Do I have the right to “plead the 5th” and not answer a question?

Yes, you do.  You have the right not to give any statement that you feel may incriminate you, but it is important to note that unlike in the criminal justice system, during a UJC proceeding the trial panel may make any inference that they wish from such a refusal and it may be negative.

 Who are the judges?

The trial panel is made up of 5 judges, one of which is the trial chair who will conduct the proceeding and is a member of the UJC’s Executive Committee.  These judges come from the 25 UJC representatives that are elected by the student body; there are two from each school and three from the College of Arts and Sciences.  With the exception of the trial chair, the judges are unaware of any of the details of your case before the trial begins. You have the right at the beginning of the trial to object to any member of the trial panel that you feel may not be completely fair and unbiased during your case.

What is the goal of the University Judiciary Committee?

To maintain and promote a community of respect, safety, and freedom.

Can I have an open trial?

Yes, confidentiality is a right that only the accused student is permitted to waive.

 What sanction will I receive?

There are neither codified nor established sanctions for specific offenses and the trial panel has unlimited leeway in crafting a sanction.  The trial panel considers the circumstances of the incident, the Accused student’s past record, and other evidence presented during the proceedings to craft a sanction that is uniquely appropriate for each student in each situation.

 What should I wear to trial?

Business casual is the minimum expectation for a trial appearance. It is important to keep in mind that your professional appearance is often taken as an indication of how seriously you perceive the charges brought against you.

 Who may represent me?

Any student in the University Community may represent you in trial, or you may choose to represent yourself.  A UJC counselor is assigned to every case, however, and they have been extensively trained and are well informed regarding UJC protocol.  You may not have a professional lawyer represent you in a case, though they may be present in the trial room.

 May I appeal the decision of the trial panel?

You may appeal the trial panel’s the decision to the Judicial Review Board.  There are three grounds for appeal: unduly harsh sanctions, new evidence that could have changed the outcome of the trial and was not available before the trial, or procedural error that was detrimental to your case.  Appeals must be made in writing within two weeks of the trial panel’s original decision and you must provide the UJC with a copy of your appeal. The Judicial Review board is composed of students, faculty members, and administrators and exercises appellate jurisdiction over decisions of the UJC.