Hearings in Contested Cases
This page is a general summary of the Judicial Panel hearing process. Please be sure to review the Student Judicial Charter of 1997 and the Bylaws to the Charter when preparing for your hearing. You can also consult a template of the Hearing Script here: Template Hearing Script. Remember, while the Judicial Charter is always followed during the hearing process, there may be aspects of the hearing that are unique to the circumstances of each matter.
Beginning the Hearing
A hearing in a contested case can last from 15–45 minutes to several hours, and will most likely be held in a second-floor conference room at Stanford’s Tresidder Memorial Union.
There will be four students, one faculty and one staff person on the Judicial Panel. Although there are always four students, in an Honor Code case there could be two faculty members and no staff; while in a Fundamental Standard case there could be two staff members and no faculty.
Hearings have the appearance or feel of a meeting or conference, not a courtroom proceeding. The setting is designed to make all participants feel as comfortable as possible, under the circumstances. The Panelists will sit on one side of the table. The Responding Student, the Reporting Party, and the Judicial Officer will sit on the other side of the table. The Judicial Officer will be seated between the Responding Student and the Reporting Party. The Judicial Advisor will be at the end of the table. Hearings are audio recorded to preserve a record of the proceedings, and the Responding Student is entitled to receive a copy of the audio file (hearings are not transcribed).
A bias check will be conducted prior to the hearing. The parties will also have an opportunity to see all of the Panelists at the hearing and inform the Judicial Advisor if they recognize anyone and have a concern that there is a possible bias (grounds for excusing that Panelist, pursuant to applicable bias check practices and procedures). In such event, the party and the Judicial Advisor will step out of the hearing room briefly to disucss the concern; it is the Judicial Advisor's responsibility to then decide, in his/her sole discretion, if there are persuasive grounds for excusing that individual for possible bias. Once the parties have acknowledged the Panel is acceptable, the Chair (always one of the four students) will begin the hearing with a reminder about the nature of the proceedings, including their confidentiality.
Presenting the Evidence
The Chair will go through the following steps:
- The process for raising an evidentiary concern will explained.
- The Responding Student will be asked to confirm their position.
- The Reporting Party will be asked to explain the nature of the concern, and the Panel will have the opportunity to ask questions of the Reporting Party.
- The Responding Student will have the opportunity to ask the Reporting Party questions.
- The Responding Student will have the opportunity to present their position (they may also rely on their written statement), and the Panel will have the opportunity to ask questions of the Responding Student.
- Witnesses will be called, as appropriate. The Responding Student will have the opportunity to ask questions of the witness(es), as will the Panel.
- The Panel will ask the Reporting Party if he/she has any further comment.
- The Panel will ask the Responding Student if he/she has any further comment.
Deliberations about Responsibility
Once the evidentiary portion of the hearing is concluded, the Panel chairperson will adjourn for deliberations. This may take anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours. You, the Reporting Party, any advisers and witnesses, and the Judicial Officer will leave the hearing room.
The Judicial Advisor will notify everyone when the Panel has made its decision and all participants will return to the hearing room. The chairperson will read the Panel’s findings. If you are found not responsible, the Panel will adjourn and the process is concluded.
- Note: Audio recording is not used for deliberations.
Discussion of Sanctions
If you are found responsible (by a minimum vote of 5–1), the Judicial Advisor will outline sanction precedent for Fundamental Standard cases or the Standard Sanction for Honor Code cases. The Reporting Party will be asked if they would look to offer any comments for consideration in the imposition of sanctions, and then will be excused from the hearing. The Respondig Student will then have an opportunity to speak to the Panel about the impact that sanctions would have on her/him.
If a Responding Student intends to ask for a non-standard penalty, they are strongly encouraged to tell or submit a statement to that effect to the Judicial Advisor at least ten business days before the hearing. The Judicial Advisor will attempt to verify the information they are providing about why a different or more lenient sanction would be appropriate.
- Review the section on Writing Sanction Statements for information about what the Panel may want to know.
The Judicial Panel may ask questions about the impact of potential sanctions. It will also ask the Judicial Officer if there are mitigating and/or aggravating factors in the case. The Panel will then ask for any final comments.
The Panel will then adjourn to deliberate in closed-door session.
Sanction deliberations usually last between 15–45 minutes, but some have lasted for several hours. The Responding Student, Judicial Officer, and Reporting Party will be invited to return to hear the decision, although neither the Responding Student nor the Reporting Party are required to attend. If either party chooses to leave once deliberations have begun, the Judicial Advisor will notify them of the outcome via email immediately after the hearing is concluded.
Please note that Judicial Panel deliberations are confidential; thus, the Judicial Advisor (who sits in and is available to answer process or procedure-related questions the Panelists might have) will not be able to provide information other than what is contained in the Hearing Report.