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On Friday, U.S. District Judge Arthur Tarnow denied the University of Michigan’s request for a stay of court proceedings in Doe v. University of Michigan, a lawsuit claiming the University violates the due process of students accused of sexual misconduct. The stay would have given the University time to work out disciplinary action before the student in question, identified as “Doe,” graduates.
The lawsuit was filed in June 2018 after a female student at the University filed a report with the Office for Institutional Equity in March 2018 alleging Doe had nonconsensual sex with her in a residence hall dorm room. Doe, who is currently enrolled at the University, had his transcript and degree temporarily put on hold after the official complaint was made to the OIE.
University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald wrote in an email to The Daily that the University requested a stay of proceedings in order to complete the disciplinary process as soon as possible before Doe graduates.
“We filed the motion, recognizing that with Doe’s graduation drawing closer, equity for all parties — including both Doe and the student who has accused Doe of misconduct — requires the University to move forward with Doe’s student conduct hearing as soon as practicable,” Fitzgerald said.
In his decision, Tarnow said the disciplinary action should be given under the guidance of a legal order and should not only be handled by the University, which would happen if the stay were granted.
“While (Doe’s) concern is concrete — if the stay is granted, (Doe) will be subject to a process devoid of this Court’s legal guidance,” Tarnow wrote in his decision. “(UM) have neither proved that they will suffer irreparable injury nor proved that (Doe) will not be injured by the stay.”
The lawsuit also claims the University does not adequately protect those accused of sexual misconduct event after the University updated its sexual misconduct policy to incorporate an in-person hearing in January 2019. The change came after the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a student must be given an opportunity to cross-examine the accuser. The University has also spent $1.6 million defending against the Doe v. Baum lawsuit, a similar lawsuit to Doe v. University of Michigan.
Fitzgerald added that even though the stay was not granted, Tarnow is aware this process must be done quickly in order to ensure that a full hearing is complete before Doe leaves the University.
“Although Judge Tarnow denied the motion to stay, he does acknowledge the University’s interest in expeditious completion of the disciplinary process and commits to issuing a ruling in a ‘timely manner as to accommodate all interested parties,’” Fitzgerald said.