In a precedent-setting case in the western district of Michigan, Doe v Northern Michigan University, David Nacht and Adam Taub obtained the first court opinion providing a student with a breach of contract claim when he is expelled in a flawed process because the college violated the student handbook procedures. This is the first court to find students in Michigan have such a contractual right. The ruling allows the case to continue to discovery and opens the door for other students to find redress. The court also allowed the case to proceed on a due process theory.
In a decision today, a federal judge ruled Professor Pamela Smock could proceed in her case that she was denied due process because the University punished her without allowing her to cross-examine her accusers. The decision will require the University to change its procedures in investigating and punishing professors. David Nacht states "bureaucrats and administrators have too much power. This lawsuit and this decision help accused professors level the playing field."
I represent a client in Massachusetts and I took a day to see a bit of Boston. The Old North Church held a lantern to warn of the British troops headed to destroy Rebel gunpowder stores in Concord in April 1775. Paul Revere got the message to the militia in Lexington who temporarily stopped them by starting the Revolutionary War. (We lost that battle but won the War)
Why is due process important? After all, It is so frustrating to slow down the execution of the law.
Every day we are bombarded with public accusations. Not all of them are true. Some of them are. People who make claims should be taken seriously. But they should not automatically be believed. Last Friday, we filed suit against the University of Michigan on behalf of a woman professor who was falsely accused of sexual harassment by three graduate students. They also falsely accused her of another ridiculous allegation: that she kept a gun in her office. Even after the police searched the office and found that accusation to be false, the University kept an investigation going for a year. That she was cleared of sex harassment did not end things. The University decided to punish her for unspecified decisions in her interactions with students that they claim violate some undefined policy. They stripped her of the right to take on new students. In an age of accusations, please remember that due process matters. And while the news may be filled with powerful men being taken down, history shows that the loss of due process tends to harm those who are weakest.