Contempt of court for ‘poorly rewritten decision’ that justifies original result
You read enough Title IX litigation and little surprises you.
Universities repeatedly interpret common sexual and relationship behavior in sinister ways, require accused students to jump through hoops to demonstrate they received consent for months-old sexual encounters, and ignore contradictory behavior by accusers because “trauma” always explains it.
Occasionally something happens that is truly surprising. In this case, the University of California-Santa Barbara was held in contempt of court last week for transparently ignoring a ruling that required it to reconsider its finding that a male student stalked a female student.
You can read the accused student’s version of events in Ashe Schow’s report at The Daily Wire, and the Santa Barbara Superior Court’s reasoning in Judge Donna Geck’s December order requiring the university to let “John Doe” re-enroll.
Doe’s lawyer Mark Hathaway wrote in an email that the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department found “no evidence” to back the stalking allegations by “Jane Roe,” yet UCSB Title IX Coordinator Brian Quillen still found Doe responsible despite “no direct evidence of his involvement.” (Quillen’s biased “trauma-informed” techniques have already cost the Regents of the University of California $31,000 in damages in a prior Title IX suit.)
Geck’s finding was fairly narrow. The university didn’t follow its own “Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment Policy,” which requires the Interpersonal Violence Appeal Review Committee to conduct an “independent de novo review of all the evidence,” including testimony at the appeal hearing. It explicitly acknowledged it only considered the evidence in Quillen’s report.
The judge had set aside the review committee’s appeal decision and ordered Doe to be reinstated as a student. The university was supposed to “reconsider the case” in light of Geck’s ruling, and convene a new hearing if “the same panel cannot be reconstituted,” since “credibility determinations must be made.”
Toothless ‘contempt’ order
If you already associate Santa Barbara with slackers, the university’s response to the order won’t surprise you.
The same panel re-evaluated evidence and reconsidered its decision, and again rejected Doe’s appeal and dismissed him from the university.
It copied and pasted its original decision against Doe, adding a new top that said it considered hearing testimony. But it forgot to remove two sentences that make clear it was only considering Quillen’s report as evidence – exactly what Geck said was impermissible.
The language of the Revised Appeal Decision is identical in every respect to the original Appeal Decision, except for the introductory sentence regarding Ground 2. The contradictory statements in the discussion of Ground 2 indicate that the panel did not genuinely reconsider the case, but simply added language that would make the original decision look like a truly reconsidered decision. …
The reconvened panel had the option of relying on the record before it when it made its original decision. Regents [the named defendant] chose this latter path, but the revised decision indicates there was no true de novo review. Rather, the IVARC panel’s Revised Appeal Decision is merely a poorly rewritten decision that appears to be a justification for the earlier result.
The university had asked the court for permission to “further revise the decision” and claimed that its panel was “already in the process of revising the decision, though there is no admissible evidence to that effect,” the judge writes:
The Revised Appeal Decision does not demonstrate compliance with the court’s decision. The offer to further change the wording of the decision misses the point. There is a flaw in the manner in which the IVARC panel reviewed the evidence before it.
Under the SVPH, the IVARC panel must independently review the evidence before the TIX/SHPC investigator and at the hearing, weigh the evidence, resolve conflicts in the evidence, draw its own inferences, and make its own credibility determinations. It is clear to the court that the IVARC panel has not done that and does not appear to be inclined to do so.
If UCSB wants to try Doe for stalking again, it has to clean house. Geck said no one who served on the appeals panel, “or any other University administrator involved with John Doe’s case,” can be involved. A new panel would have to conduct “an entirely new proceeding and may not rely on
the record before the prior panel.”
Unfortunately for Doe, the university’s slacker approach to court orders won’t cost it anything other than its own legal costs. His request for attorney’s fees from UCSB and the imprisonment of the regents was denied by Geck.
That’s good news for other universities that railroad accused students at all costs: You can satisfy the mobs that demand all accused students be expelled, thumb your nose at court orders, and face no real consequences when the court holds you in contempt.
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