Comments Filed by Patricia Hamill and Lorie Dakessian, Highlight the Revocation of Rights Necessary to Ensure Fair Adjudication in Sexual Harassment Cases
In response to the US Department of Education’s proposed Title IX regulations governing sexual harassment and assault claims brought at educational institutions, Patricia Hamill and Lorie Dakessian, Co-Chairs of the Title IX and Campus Discipline Practice at the law firm of Conrad O’Brien, P.C., joined forces with Justin Dillon, Partner at KaiserDillon PLLC, and KC Johnson, an American history professor and frequent commentator on due process rights for accused students, in filing comments addressing the detrimental effect the proposed Title IX regulations would have on students’ rights if adopted. These comments pay particular attention to the rights of respondents because the impact of the proposed regulations disproportionately targets those individuals. The attorney co-authors, who have extensive experience in representing respondents in Title IX matters, are concerned that respondents would be placed at a severe disadvantage in college disciplinary proceedings.
“The proposed regulations would deny basic rights that would ensure a fair hearing – like the right to see and hear live witness testimony, the right to direct questioning of parties and witnesses, the right to access a full record of evidence, or even the right to have expert witnesses, to name a few,” said Patricia Hamill.
The attorneys’ comments are particularly critical of the proposed regulations for systematically revoking or eroding a uniform set of rights based on established principles of fairness and a strong body of case law. “It makes no sense to return to a pre-2020 era of biased and confusing college disciplinary procedures,” said Lorie Dakessian.
The proposed regulations would give colleges the incentive to return to practices that were patently unfair and led to hundreds of lawsuits by accused students—many of which resulted in decisions that cracked down hard on biased college disciplinary procedures. “In turning fair standards inside out, the Department incredibly fails to provide a coherent justification as to why it is proposing to revoke existing rights,” added Dakessian.
The filed comments, extending to 70+ pages, address a host of questionable changes the Department is proposing that fly in the face of hundreds of court decisions that, time and again, have told colleges and universities that they must treat students – all students – fairly and equitably.
As Co- Chairs of the Title IX and Campus Discipline Practice at Conrad O’Brien, P.C., Patricia Hamill and Lorie Dakessian have represented hundreds of students at more than 150 colleges and universities around the country in internal Title IX disciplinary matters or in related litigation. Given their experience, Patricia and Lorie are often sought out by groups and institutions for their opinions on how to work within the framework of the changing federal laws and guidance and have spoken extensively on defending students and faculty members in Title IX and disciplinary actions