October 9, 2013
To whom it may concern:
My experience with the Stanford judicial process during the 2012-13 academic year has made me aware of the importance of every student having competent legal representation.
In the fall of 2012, I was involved in a verbal argument in a university residence that ended with a physical altercation. Prior to retaining counsel, I was completely denied the due process that students at Stanford are supposed to receive. Although I self-reported the incident to the Residence Dean, I was essentially treated as “guilty until proven innocent” by university officials. That may sound a bit dramatic, but it is actually an understatement, since I was not even given a chance to prove my innocence.
I had dozens of witnesses to provide to the University in my defense. However, when I had first spoken to the Residence Dean, she had told me I could not contact witnesses, and so I assumed she would do that for me. I was wrong.
After she had decided I was guilty, I raised the issue of my witnesses. Only then, after she had already decided the case, did she acknowledge that perhaps she should consider my side of the story. She then again found me guilty, without speaking to any of my witnesses.
It was at this point, with the discipline about to be imposed, that I realized I needed some help to protect me against a violation of my rights.
Fortunately, when an experienced attorney and involved Stanford alumnus offered to represent me in my appeal, everything changed. I filed an appeal. He told me that the Dean was wrong when she said I could not contact witnesses. Even though it was three months since the incident, I had about 60 witness statements collected in about four days.
With the evidence the Dean would not let me gather, I won my appeal.
I felt much more prepared to defend myself and plead my case with a professional representative by my side.. I strongly believe that this would not have been the case if I had not had an attorney representing me.
Once I learned I was not prohibited from speaking to witnesses, I also went over and visited with the other student involved in the original altercation. We patched things up in minutes, as would be expected of Stanford students. He had been surprised I hadn’t approached him earlier. He was unaware the Residence Dean had precluded me from doing so.
Winter 2013 case