A Closer Look At Live Hearings Under Title IX

On-campus sexual assault complaints in federally-funded colleges and universities will now undergo Live Hearings as part of new regulations under Title IX. This type of investigation includes a presentation of evidence, witness testimonies, and cross-examination -- all facilitated by advisors and Title IX coordinators. Parties can choose their own advisor (who can be a teacher, counselor, or an attorney), or one can be assigned by the school. Any member of the school -- students, faculty, employees -- has the right to this form of investigation, whether they are the complainant or the accused.

Who Has The Burden of Proof in a Title IX Live Hearing?

While a Title IX live hearing has some similarities to a court hearing, there's an important difference when it comes to who has the burden of proof. Normally, it is the plaintiff or complainant who has the burden of proof. Under Title IX, the burden of proof falls on the school. The school is responsible for gathering evidence for both the complainant and the accused. The school must also ensure that parties remain free to discuss the allegations and gather evidence -- in other words, gag orders are not allowed.

Related: What standard of evidence is used in a live hearing?

What Happens in the Live Hearing?

Before each live hearing, the facilitators will review all the questions to be asked by either party to ensure that only relevant ones are included. At all times, advisors are the ones who will be asking the questions, not the parties themselves. Any party or witness may opt-out of cross-examination, but once they do, their statements may no longer be considered in reaching a decision. The rules also add that a party or witness' refusal to answer questions must not be the sole basis of the decision -- for example, if the accused does not submit to cross-examination, it shouldn't suggest that he or she is guilty. Both parties are allowed to present an expert witness, such as a doctor, to verify or refute claims.

A complainant may try to 'drop the charges' by informing the Title IX Coordinator in writing that they want to withdraw the formal complaint. According to the rules, the school can then dismiss the complaint or allegations. It is of course at the school's discretion. Alternatively, the school may offer to facilitate informal resolution, if both parties agree.

If you are facing a Title IX complaint, call to get a free consultation with the attorneys at Roberts Law Group.

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North Carolina vs. M.W.
Charge: Charge: Robbery with A Dangerous Weapon (4 Counts), First Degree Burglary, Conspiracy to Commit Robbery with A Dangerous Weapon
Facing: 12 - 17 years in prison
Result: Dismissed

An incarcerated defendant accused our client of participating in the robbery of a group of youth at a party. We were able to raise doubt as to the credibility of this individual. In the end, the prosecutor dismissed these charges, citing a lack of evidence.