The Right to Representation by Counsel in University Disciplinary Proceedings: A Denial of Due Process of Law
Groholski, Robert B.
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This comment argues that university students who face suspension or expulsion for disciplinary reasons, as opposed to academic dismissal, are entitled to have retained legal counsel represent them as an element of procedural due process. The article begins with a general discussion of the jurisprudence that has developed concerning the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause. Utilizing both federal and state court decisions, the comment then demonstrates that university students hold protected liberty and property interests in their collegiate educations or degrees such that the procedural protections of the Due Process Clause are triggered when students face disciplinary suspension or expulsion. The article then proceeds to examine the present state of the law and the rationale which courts have articulated in concluding that students generally have no right under the Due Process Clause to have retained legal counsel represent them at disciplinary hearings conducted by public universities. Finally, applying the established factors for determining the scope of procedural protection to be accorded a person when a protected interest is jeopardized, the author argues that due process commands that legal counsel be permitted to represent students at university disciplinary hearings because of the enormous importance of education and the existence of a substantial risk that students may be erroneously suspended or expelled when not represented by counsel.