The Judiciary Committee is responsible for ensuring the Mahanaim community upholds the values of honesty, integrity, civility, and respect for each other, the school, and for the academic process. When serious cases of alleged or accepted violations of school policy and regulations by students, student organizations or faculty are brought to the judiciary, they will conduct investigations and fair hearings, upholding due process and ensuring the school culture is maintained with a safe and inclusive learning environment. These policies include Academic Integrity, Academic Grievances, the Code of Conduct, and Title IX. After determining whether a case qualifies for review by recommendation of the investigating officer, the committee will hear all evidence, ask questions, determine whether or not the individual or organization in question violated policy and if so, impose appropriate sanctions. Standards and procedures of the Judiciary Committee do not attempt to duplicate civil and criminal legal processes, nor do they attempt to substitute for them. Mahanaim reserves the right to deal with misconduct whether or not law enforcement agencies are involved and/or criminal charges may be pending.
I. Judicial Committee Members
Composition of Membership
The Chief Student Experience Officer (Chair)
Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs
One member of the Faculty Assembly
One member of the Student Assembly
The Judiciary Committee shall have jurisdiction over members of the student body, members of the faculty, and administrative personnel.
Besides cases involving members of the Mahanaim community on-campus, the Judiciary Committee may investigate cases around violations that stem from off-campus conduct when they constitute a violation of federal, state, or local laws. This will be determined by the Chair of the Judiciary Committee.
The President of Mahanaim may initiate legal action when it is necessary to protect the person or property of the Mahanaim community or the orderly functioning of the school. Such action may be in addition to the judicial process undertaken at Mahanaim before the Judiciary Committee.
As stated above, the Mahanaim judicial process is neither a duplication nor a substitution of civil or criminal legal processes. Whether or not civil or criminal court is involved, Mahanaim reserves the right to also deal with misconduct through its judicial process.
III. Investigation Procedures
Possible violations are brought to the attention of the Chief Experience Officer, who then assigns the Director of Academic Excellence Center to be the Judicial Officer for the case. Within two days of the allegation being reported, the Judicial Officer begins to assess the nature of the violation, investigate allegations, and then does one of the following:
Dismisses the allegations based on the information available or lack thereof.
Resolves the question of misconduct through alternative means, which may include, but is not limited to Judicial Officer review or conflict resolution when it is just a minor case of misconduct.
Convenes a hearing of the Judiciary Committee if there is reasonable cause to believe that there has been a serious violation and a particular student has been identified as having committed the violation.
To make a determination as to which course to take, the Judicial Officer calls students, faculty, or staff in for questioning.
Students may be asked to serve as evidentiary witnesses or serve as the formal complainant in a case. If a student refuses, the Judicial Officer may nevertheless proceed with a referral for misconduct if sufficient evidence, independent of the complainant’s testimony, exists to support the referral. In such cases, there will be no official complainant.
Sufficient independent evidence could include instances when (a) there is sufficient testimony from an eyewitness other than the complainant or (b) there is authentic electronic or physical evidence which identifies the respondent and depicts the act(s) of misconduct.
The Judicial Officer should provide the respondent and the complainant with a copy of the procedures and the official complaint or allegation that has been made.
All parties should be educated on the investigation and hearing process prior to the hearing.
The Judicial Officer should complete the initial investigation within two weeks of the case being assigned.
IV. Procedures for Resolving Alleged Misconduct
The Judicial Officer has the authority and discretion to refer any given case to the method of resolution deemed most appropriate or to determine that there is not sufficient evidence to support a referral for a violation of school policy.
Judicial Officer Review
For minor cases of misconduct in which suspension or expulsion will not be considered, the Judicial Officer will meet with the student(respondent) within one week of the conclusion of the investigation, discuss the allegations of misconduct, and determine whether the student is responsible for the alleged violation as well as the appropriate penalty.
To determine whether a violation has occurred, there must be a preponderance of the evidence proving that what is alleged was more likely to have happened than not.
Decisions for minor cases of misconduct shall not be recorded on the student’s permanent record, but will remain on the student’s file until graduation.
The Judicial Officer will send in writing the misconduct, the decision regarding sanctions, and notifying the student of their right to appeal to the Judiciary Committee Chair in writing within two days of the official decision being made known to them.
The Judicial Officer shall have discretion to refer a matter for mediation or another form of conflict resolution that all parties involved in the case agree upon if the matter does not involve an alleged violation of Mahanaim regulations or policies.
All parties must also agree to be bound by the outcome with no review or appeal.
The outcome of conflict resolution shall not be included on the student’s record and may not result in probation, suspension, or expulsion.
Should conflict resolution prove unsuccessful, the Judicial Officer may recommend another adjudication option.
Judiciary Committee Hearing
All serious cases of misconduct that cannot be resolved through judicial officer review or conflict resolution are heard by the Judiciary Committee. A serious case of misconduct is any case where in the judgment of the judicial officer, appropriate action might involve suspension or expulsion. All major cases of misconduct where there is sufficient evidence to support a referral as described in the investigation process above shall be referred by the judicial officer to the Judiciary Committee.
V. Judicial Hearing Procedure and Guidelines
Hearing Panel Composition – The four members of the Judiciary Committee shall form the panel to hear the case referred by the Judicial Officer.
Removal or Recusal due to bias – The respondent and complainant may petition the Chair of the panel to remove, on the basis of bias, any panel member from the upcoming hearing. The decision whether or not to remove the panel member is at the sole-discretion of the panel Chair. A panel member may also recuse themselves prior to the hearing if they have a specific and actual bias related to the individual or event in question. These same rules apply to the panel Chair themselves, who will be removed and replaced at the President’s discretion.
All authority for further deliberation and judgment in cases referred by the Judicial Officer to the Judiciary Committee rests with the panel. The Judicial Officer will aid the panel in further investigations that the panel might authorize.
The panel conducts its inquiry and deliberations through a two-step process: (1) a closed hearing, during which all evidence upon which the Committee will base its subsequent decisions shall be introduced; and (2) a closed Committee session during which the evidence introduced at the hearing shall be considered by the Committee, and during which both a decision regarding student responsibility for the alleged violations and a decision regarding sanctions shall be reached.
The Judicial Officer informs the student in writing of the allegation, with the alleged violations stated to allow the student to prepare for the hearing.
The Judicial Officer shall also deliver to the respondent and complainant a copy of the investigative file, which may include:
A statement of the facts, dates, times and events relevant to the allegation.
A list of persons having knowledge of the case,
Their statements and/or interview notes pertaining to their statements.
The hearing is to be held within two weeks of the recommendation for a hearing being made by the Judicial Officer.
The notice of a Judicial hearing also states the time and date of the hearing, which shall be held between two and five class days from the time of notice. The parties involved may request an alternative date. The Chair or President of Mahanaim has the authority to cause a case to be heard earlier or later in exceptional circumstances.
For cases brought before the Committee during the last week of the semester, the Chair has the right to postpone the case until the following semester.
In the week prior to the hearing, the Panel Chair will meet with the respondent and the complainant separately in a pre-hearing conference. These conferences have several functions:
To inform all parties the names of the panel members.
To hear challenges to the panel composition based on bias.
To answer questions regarding the hearing process.
To allow the Chair to share with both parties a list of all potential witnesses identified thus far.
To allow both parties to provide lists of potential witnesses to the Chair and to allow the Chair to preview the scope of witness testimony.
Evidentiary witnesses may be called to testify of direct, firsthand knowledge of events and circumstances relevant to the case. May be accompanied by an advisor. Up to six evidentiary witnesses may testify per party unless the panel Chair authorizes more witnesses who can provide crucial testimony regarding the allegations.
Character witnesses may be called to testify regarding the character of the person who has requested their appearance. Such witnesses must be members of the Mahanaim community as either a student, faculty, or staff member. Only one character witness may testify per party.
All witnesses are called by the panel Chair. They are notified by the Judicial Officer of the time and place of the hearing. If a witness is unlikely to attend, the parties of the hearing will be notified. Witnesses who cannot or will not attend the hearing for whatever reason may still provide written statements to serve as supporting documentation for the case.
Any student with knowledge of the alleged misconduct may provide the Judicial Officer with names of possible evidentiary witnesses. This list of potential witnesses will be provided to the panel Chair, who will call witnesses not determined to be excessively redundant in their knowledge of the case as compared to existing witnesses, and to have direct knowledge of events and circumstances relevant to the case.
On the morning of the hearing, the panel Chair shall issue to all parties the final list of witnesses who will appear at the hearing. Names may be added after this time if the Chair judges that their testimony will be helpful to the panel.
The Day of the Hearing
A respondent who has been properly notified of the hearing and who fails to appear shall be considered to have waived the right to be heard by the Committee, and the hearing will proceed without the respondent.
The hearing shall be private. Only members of the panel, the Judicial Officer, the parties involved and their advisors may be present. Witnesses may be present only as they are called to testify.
The panel Chair shall ensure that a notetaker takes detailed notes and that an audio recording is made. The panel members may contribute to the notes at the conclusion of the hearing.
All parties are expected to prepare a clear, complete yet economical presentation of their cases. The panel Chair may impose reasonable time limits on any phase of these proceedings.
Each party may offer reliable information relevant to the issue and may object to the information offered by the other party. They may also introduce relevant written/ physical evidence as exhibits.
Finally, each party may offer their witnesses. Witnesses who are not present may present information by telephone or written statement.
Each member of the Committee and the Judicial Officer shall have the opportunity to question the respondent, complainant and all witnesses during their presentations. The respondent and complainant may question all witnesses through the panel Chair. The panel Chair may instruct a witness not to answer questions deemed to be irrelevant or improper.
At the conclusion of all testimony and statements, the panel will conclude the hearing and immediately meet in closed session to determine whether or not the respondent has violated the policy in question through a preponderance of evidence.
If a violation is determined to have occurred, the panel will determine the sanction. At this time, the Judicial Officer may be called to provide non-evidentiary information as requested by the panel. The Officer will not participate in discussions or make recommendations concerning sanctions.
The Chair of the panel shall orally convey to the student the panel’s rationale for its decisions with regard to both the violation and the sanction within 24 hours of the conclusion of the hearing. The Judicial Officer shall provide the respondent a written summary of the decision.
Decisions made by the Panel
Decisions of the Judiciary Committee shall be final, subject only to appeal to the President by the respondent or complainant.
The action decided upon by the panel shall take effect on the next day after the decision is made unless the decision is appealed, in which case the Chair of the panel shall determine the status of the respondent during the appeal process.
Record of the Hearing
The detailed notes of the hearing together with the audio recording and any witness statements, documents, photographs, or other pieces of evidence shall be the official record of the hearing.
The Judiciary Committee shall be responsible for custody of the official record of the hearing in a secure location for up to seven years.
This record can be made available to a party in the event of an appeal.
A student found by the Judiciary Committee to have violated school policy or regulations must abide by the sanctions imposed by the Committee. Failure to abide by the terms of sanctions should be brought to the attention of the Judicial Officer for possible further conduct action.
If a student has appealed a decision by the Judiciary Committee, any prohibitions against contact between the respondent and any others involved remains in place. This includes contact with the Judiciary Committee.
The President may withhold the graduation of a student found in violation of school policy/regulations who has not fulfilled each condition or requirements imposed as a sanction by the Judiciary Committee until all conditions are met.
Interim Measures and Interim Suspension – Where a respondent poses an immediate threat of harm to the safety or well-being of an individual or members of the Mahanaim community, or to the performance of normal school functions, the Judiciary Committee may remove a respondent from the school or restrict their access on a temporary basis.
Such a decision must be made by the President of Mahanaim. There is no appeal process for an interim suspension. The President may determine the duration and conditions of the suspension.
VI. Alternatives to a Judicial Hearing
In cases where the allegation(s) in question are not being disputed by the respondent, the respondent may request a Sanctioning Conference to determine the sanction only.
The Judicial Officer, the respondent, and his or her advisor if they have one, shall attend the Sanctioning Conference called by the Judiciary Committee Chair and the panel. The complainant and his or her advisor shall also have the right to attend, but are not obligated to.
The Sanctioning Conference shall be private. Only the people mentioned above may be present.
At the Sanctioning Conference, the Chair will inquire into the facts and circumstances of the violation. The Judicial Officer will present evidence and any other relevant information from the student’s file. The Judicial Officer will not participate in or make recommendations concerning sanctions.
The respondent and his or her advisor may be present at the initial stage of the sanction deliberation to respond to non-evidentiary information provided by the Judicial Officer to the Chair regarding the student’s file. The Chair may ask questions of the respondent based on their file or their responses.
Following the inquiry, the Chair and panel shall determine the appropriate resolution and will prepare a written statement of the resolution.
The resolution shall become effective the following day after the Sanctioning Conference is concluded.
Appeals may be made only on the grounds that the penalty is grossly inappropriate, at which it will go to the President of Mahanaim.
VII. Possible Actions/Recommendations by the Judiciary Committee
(Including, but not limited to):
Loss of various privileges including participation in school functions and events.
Referral to counseling.
Restricted access to school property.
Removal from student housing and/or dining.
Expulsion from Mahanaim.
Right to Appeal
Both the respondent against whom a sanction has been imposed by the Judicial Committee and the complainant shall have the right to appeal any decision to the President of Mahanaim on the following grounds only:
New evidence that would affect the finding of the hearing panel and that was unavailable at the time of the investigation.
Procedural error(s) that had a material impact on the outcome; and
The sanctions imposed were greatly disproportionate to the violation committed.
Notification of Appeal
The appellant shall file written notice of appeal with the Chair of the Judicial Committee within 10 calendar days from the time the appellant was notified of the decision regarding their case. This letter must clearly state the specific grounds on which the appeal is being made.
All authority for further deliberation and judgment of an appeal rests with the President, who shall decide upon the scope and procedures of their deliberations. All deliberations shall be private and in closed session.
The President may:
Reverse a finding of violation
Alter a penalty
Remand a case to the Judiciary Committee for a new hearing based on new evidence to consider or if there were procedural errors.
The decision of the President is the final decision of Mahanaim on the matter.
The Chair of the Judiciary Committee shall notify both the respondent and complainant of the outcome of the appeal.
IX. Statement on Confidentiality and Public Reporting
All participants in a student conduct hearing or any meetings, investigations, or interviews leading up to a hearing are reminded of their obligation to maintain confidentiality. The names of individuals involved in a case, pre-hearing proceedings, testimony, evidence, deliberations, discussion, the hearing record, and any appeals shall remain confidential.
Violating this confidentiality may be considered a violation of the Code of Conduct.
The following information, excluding all references personally identifying the individuals involved in a case, may be made available for inspection to the Mahanaim community:
The formal findings and decisions of the Judiciary Committee.
A file of cases heard by the Judiciary Committee, maintained by the Chair, which shall include formal findings, decisions, sanctions, and any appeals.