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Judicial Affairs

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Hearing Process


Determining a Charge

Any JMU student, faculty or staff member believing that a student has violated a university policy or regulation may bring a charge by giving relevant details of the alleged violation to the Office of Judicial Affairs. Students are expected to comply with university policies as these policies pertain to student conduct. Students who violate state laws, county laws, or city ordinances are subject to both criminal prosecution and university disciplinary action.

The Office of Judicial Affairs will determine:

  • Whether there are grounds for a formal charge and the initiation of judicial proceedings.
  • Whether the charge should be referred for mediation, restorative justice, or to other university officials or administrative committees.  (Mediation and restorative justice are not an option for sexual assault cases.)
  • If the evidence produced provides sufficient cause to believe that a violation may have taken place, the student will be notified of the charge and asked to schedule and attend an appointment with the Office of Judicial Affairs for an administrative option hearing. If a student schedules an appointment and fails to attend an appointment with the judicial office after being properly notified, an additional charge of noncompliance with an official request may be added.
  • Proper notification of a judicial charge shall consist of an electronic message (e-mail) and/or written notice mailed to the student’s last address on file with the university or placed in the student’s assigned mailbox. The notice will be considered received one day following the date the notice is posted at a U.S. Postal Service facility or placed in the student’s mailbox or sent via email.
  • When the student is informed of their judicial charges they may also be instructed "no direct or indirect contact" (this includes, but is not limited to, contact in person, through electronic means, or through a third party) with alleged victim(s). A violation of this will result in an additional charge of "Non-compliance with an Official Request."
  • The university may proceed with judicial charges regardless of enrollment status.
  • If a student discontinues enrollment, regardless of reason, judicial charges and/or sanctions remain pending upon request to re-enroll.

Administrative Option Hearing

An accused student charged with a violation will first have the violation handled administratively by the Office of Judicial Affairs in accordance with the following regulations:

  • The accused student will be informed of the charge against him/ her prior to the meeting with his/her hearing officer.
  • After hearing all relevant facts, the hearing officer will use a preponderance of evidence to determine responsibility and inform the accused student orally of his/her decision with regards to responsibility and of the sanction that will be assigned, if found responsible.
    • If an accused student fails to appear at a hearing after having their appointment set (as referenced in their charge letter, the hearing officer will make a decision on the case based on the evidence provided in the incident documentation and notify the accused student of the decision via email.)
  • The accused student may accept the decision and sign a statement indicating acceptance or may reject the decision and request a hearing before the Judicial Council or University Hearing Officer. Under no circumstances will the Judicial Council or University Hearing Officer be informed of the content of the accused student’s original hearing or the sanction given by the hearing officer at the administrative option hearing.
  • In a disciplinary hearing, the technical rules of evidence applicable in civil and criminal cases shall not apply.

If the student provides false information this may result in an additional charge of Interference with the Judicial Process.


University Judicial Council

The role of the University Judicial Council is to act as the original hearing body for cases in which a student is charged with a violation of a policy classified as “major” or “minor” under the university’s judicial procedures. The council also acts as the original hearing body for “flexible” violations when so designated by the Office of Judicial Affairs.

  • The council shall have at least 50 members. Of the members, some shall be faculty and staff members, none of whom shall hold an administrative position higher than head of a department or academic unit. The other members shall be students selected by the Office of Judicial Affairs from the student body, exclusive of student government executive officers. The Office of Judicial Affairs may appoint additional members as needed. The council shall have some members that serve as Chairs and/or University Hearing Officers.
  • Appointment to the council shall be on an annual basis. Reappointment shall be made with consideration to the need for continuity while maintaining a system of orderly rotation.

The Office of Judicial Affairs is responsible for the training of the University Judicial Council.

Major Violations Board

The role of the Major Violations Board is to act as the original hearing body for cases in which a student is charged with a violation of a university policy classified as “major” under the university’s judicial procedures. The board shall also act as the original hearing body for “flexible” violations when so designated by the Office of Judicial Affairs.

  • For each hearing, a board will be composed of three student members and three faculty and/or staff members of the judicial council. Each board will be chaired by a nonvoting faculty or staff member of the judicial council.
  • Each appeal will be heard by a board composed of two students and two faculty and/or staff members of the judicial council. One of the faculty or staff members, in addition to being a voting member, will also serve as the chair.

Minor Violations Board

The role of the Minor Violations Board is to act as the original hearing body for cases in which a student is charged with a violation of a university policy classified as “minor” under the university’s judicial procedures. The board shall also act as the original hearing body for “flexible” violations when so designated by the Office of Judicial Affairs.

  • For each hearing, a board will be composed of three student members of the University Judicial Council. Each committee will be chaired by a nonvoting faculty or staff member of the judicial council.
  • Each appeal will be heard by a board composed of two students and one faculty or staff member of the judicial council. The faculty or staff member, in addition to being a voting member, will also serve as the chair.
Applicable to both Judicial Council and Administrative Option Hearings:
    • All hearings are closed and all judicial information and decisions shall remain confidential.
    • The accused student shall receive all rights guaranteed to him/her.
    • In a disciplinary hearing, the technical rules of evidence applicable in civil and criminal cases shall not apply.
Applicable to Judicial Council Hearings:
  • If any member of the committee feels that he or she has such previous contact with the case or the students involved that a fair judgment cannot be rendered, the member must request that he or she not serve for that hearing. The accused student may request that any member of the committee be excused whenever the student can show a bias on the part of the member. The chair of the committee will decide on such challenges and, if appropriate, ask the member to excuse him or herself. If the chair is challenged, the committee will decide by a majority vote whether or not he or she should be requested to excuse him or herself.
  • A judicial hearing will generally proceed in the following manner:
    • An introduction of the committee (or University Hearing Officer as applicable).
    • Participants state any questions they have concerning rights or procedures.
    • The statement of the charges is presented.
    • Evidence is presented against the accused student; each witness is called individually.
    • Evidence is presented by the accused student and his/her witnesses; each witness is called individually.
    • The committee members may question the witnesses as they are called and may request witnesses to return for further clarification.
    • The accused student may present concluding remarks.
    • All persons are excused from the hearing room except committee members.
    • The committee considers only information introduced in the hearing and deliberates in executive session until a decision is made as to responsibility. The decision is based on the preponderance of the evidence and is decided by a simple majority vote. In case of a tie vote, the ruling is to find the student not responsible after extensive deliberation. Previous violations are to be considered in the assigning of appropriate sanctions.
    • The decision is announced in the presence of the student charged and the attorney or support person.
    • The student is informed of the right of appeal and the appropriate procedure for initiating an appeal.
  • The chair of the committee shall have the right to limit the length of testimony of any witness or participant in the hearing if it appears to be repetitious or does not contribute positively to the fair and efficient adjudication of the case currently being considered.
  • If an accused student fails to appear at a hearing after being properly notified, the judicial body shall hear the case on the basis of the evidence accumulated as a result of the testimony of witnesses and notify the accused student of the decision.
  • An accused student may request one postponement of a judicial hearing by contacting the Office of Judicial Affairs at least 48 hours prior to the scheduled hearing. Postponement will only be allowed when an accused student has an exam conflict or an emergency at home or is too ill to attend the judicial hearing.
  • Witnesses may not also serve as a support person/attorney.
  • Parents/guardians may serve as a support person attorney if they meet the requirements found in the Accused Student Rights.  They also may serve as a witness for the accused student if the accused student would like them to be a witness. 
  • Any participant determined by the chair to be unruly or disruptive to the hearing process will be removed from the hearing.
  • Providing false information and/or discussing the case before the judicial council hearing with any of the witnesses against the accused may lead to an additional charge of Interference with the Judicial Process.
Procedures During the Last Three Weeks of a Semester or During the Summer Sessions

When an administrative option hearing is scheduled/takes place during the last three weeks of any semester or during the summer sessions and the case cannot be scheduled before a judicial board, the student may choose one of the following options:

  • The case may be heard immediately by a University Hearing Officer, provided witnesses are available. This is the only option available to graduating students or students who will not be at JMU in the next semester (i.e. study abroad, student teaching, etc.). Note:  Since policy violations occurring through the end of a student’s graduation day may result in judicial charges being placed, in cases involving graduating students, the student’s diploma and/or final, official transcripts may be withheld pending the conclusion of the hearing process and/or the completion of any outstanding judicial sanctions.  In addition, for these cases, if the sanction is immediate suspension or expulsion, it will be effective for the most recent semester the student attended. 
  • The case may be heard when the next semester begins, provided witnesses are available. This option is not applicable to graduating students or students who will not be at JMU in the next semester (i.e. study abroad, student teaching, etc.).


Appealing a Judicial Decision

Applicable to both Judicial Council and hearings heard by a University Hearing Officer

  • Any student found responsible for a violation by a judicial body or University Hearing Officer shall have the right to appeal within three class days of receiving notice of the decision by filing a written petition for appeal with the Office of Judicial Affairs. (Note:  An accusing student of sexual assault or sexual harassment cases is also given the right to appeal within three class days of receiving notice of the decision by filing a written petition for appeal with the Office of Judicial Affairs. In a sexual assault or sexual harassment case where both the accusing and accused students appeal the decision, there will be one appeal board hearing to review both documents received and make one final decision in the case.)
  • If the appeal is held within the last three weeks of a semester or during the summer sessions, it may be heard by a University Hearing Officer.
  • An appeal hearing will be concerned only with the points raised in the written appeal form. Students will not be present during the appeal hearing.
  • Appeal bodies and hearing officers with appellate jurisdiction may take any of the following actions:
    • Affirm the findings and sanction of the original hearing body or the hearing officer
    • Reduce the sanction
    • Find the student not responsible of the charge(s)
    • In cases involving sexual assault or sexual harassment, the appeal body may increase the severity of the sanction(s) if the reason for appeal was “Leniency of Sanction”.
  • A student found responsible for a violation may not be given a more severe sanction as the result of his or her decision to appeal. (Note:  In cases involving sexual assault or sexual harassment, the sanction could be more severe if the reason for appeal was “Leniency of Sanction.”)
  • After examining records and hearing pertinent statements, the appeal body will meet in executive session to consider its decision. If the appeal has included new evidence or contention of error, the appeal body will vote first on responsibility and then on the sanction. If only the sanction is in question, the appeal body will vote to affirm or decrease the original sanction.


Interim Suspension

If the Director of Judicial Affairs or his/her designee determines that a student presents a risk to the orderly operation of the university or to the safety and welfare of member(s) of the university community, the student may be immediately suspended.

  • During the interim suspension the student is barred from the university campus. This means that the student may not attend classes or come on the JMU campus without permission from the Director of Judicial Affairs or designee. If the student does come to the campus, s/he will be subject to arrest for trespassing.
  • The suspended student may, within two business days of the suspension, request an interim suspension appeal hearing before a University Hearing Officer to determine if the suspension should continue.
  • A judicial council hearing will take place within ten business days of the date of the interim suspension appeal hearing (if it was requested by the student) to adjudicate the case. If the student does not request an interim suspension appeal hearing, the judicial council hearing will take place within ten business days of the interim suspension to adjudicate the case. After the judicial council hearing occurs, then an accused student has the right to an appeal of the council's decision, per the normal council process. (See Appealing a Judicial Decision for more on the appeal process).
  • In cases where a student has extenuating circumstances that prevent attendance at a hearing, including but not limited to incarceration, the decision to continue with or delay the hearing will be made by the Director of Judicial Affairs or his/her designee.
  • When an interim suspension occurs during the last two weeks of any semester or during the summer sessions, the hearing will be heard by a University Hearing Officer. If a student chooses to appeal the University Hearing Officer's decision, the appeal will be done by an Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and University Planning or designee.

For more detailed information, see "Disciplinary Reasons" under Leaving and Returning to the University.