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`JUDICIAL D¥STR7iC.T OF
`NEW ‘BRITAIN
`
`DOCKET NO. CV 16 6032526
`
`AUSTIN HAUGHWOUT
`
`: SUPERIOR COURT
`
`V.
`
`:
`
`JUDICIAL DISTRICT OF NEW BRITAIN
`
`LAURA TORDENTI ET AL.
`
`: NOVEMBER 17, 2016
`
`MEMORANDUM OF DECISION
`
`Austin Haughwout was expelled from Central Connecticut State
`
`University (Central) effective October 19, 2015. By way of this
`
`zlawsuit he seeks reinstatement. His claims are essentially four
`
`in number. First, the disciplinary procedures employed by Central
`
`deprived him of his right to due process of law under the state
`
`and federal Constitutions. Second,
`
`those same procedures failed
`
`to conform to Central's Student Code of Conduct and Statement of
`
`Disciplinary Procedures
`
`(code). Third,
`
`in violating Mr. Haugh-
`
`wout's constitutional rights and his rights under the code Central
`
`breached a contract that existed between it and Mr. Haughwout by
`
`virtue of his status as a tuition-paying student. Finally,
`
`the
`
`charges
`
`that
`
`led to Mr. Haughwout's expulsion punished the
`
`exercise of his right of free speech,
`
`thereby violating Article
`
`I of the Connecticut Constitution.
`
`The amended complaint is in five counts and seeks a permanent
`
`injunction and/or a writ of mandamus restoring Mr. Haughwout to
`
`
`
`1320.“
`
`

`

`his status as a
`
`full—time student at Central,‘ a declaratory
`
`ruling that the defendants’ conduct in expelling him.was unconsti-
`
`tutional, and attorney's fees, pursuant to Title 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983
`
`& 1998, for the defendants’ alleged violations of his constitu-
`
`tional rights.
`
`I
`
`The original complaint was returned to court on March 7,
`
`2016. Initial skirmishes ensued over the court's jurisdiction over
`
`counts four and five and Mr. Haughwout's request for a temporary
`
`injunction or writ of mandamus restoring him as a student at
`
`Central pending a final resolution of the case. The court heard
`
`argument on these issues on May 24, 2016.
`
`The defendants moved to dismiss counts four and five, which
`
`alleged Central's breach of an implied contract between it and.Mr.
`
`Haughwout and a breach of the covenant of good faith and fair
`
`dealing implicit in every contract. As originally drafted,
`
`those
`
`counts sought monetary damages from the defendants, all of them
`
`state officials, and, thus, from the state. Because consent to sue
`
`the state had not been obtained from the claims commissioner,
`
`
`the allegations of
`to expunge
`1 Plaintiff also seeks
`misconduct
`in his record at Central and a refund of “tuition
`payments
`and other costs wrongfully retained.” See Amended
`Complaint, Claims for Relief, docket entry # 115 (June 23, 2016).
`
`-2-
`
`

`

`those monetary claims had to be and were dismissed. See Docket
`
`entry # 104.01. The court found, however,
`
`that,
`
`insofar as they
`
`sought equitable relief,
`
`those
`
`counts were not
`
`subject
`
`to
`
`dismissal. By incorporating from counts one and three allegations
`
`that Mr. Haughwout's constitutional rights had been violated,
`
`counts
`
`four and five “clearly demonstrated an incursion upon
`
`constitutionally protected interests. Barde v. Board of Trustees,
`
`207 Conn. 59, 64 (l988).” Id.
`
`The court denied Mr. Haughwout's request
`
`for a temporary
`
`injunction or writ of mandamus.
`
`It concluded that, while his
`
`claims were not frivolous,
`
`it could not say that
`
`there was a
`
`“reasonable probability” that he would ultimately be successful,
`
`the recognized test for the issuance of a temporary injunction.
`
`See Docket entry # 101.01.
`
`In their memorandum in opposition to the plaintiff's motion
`
`for a temporary injunction (objection)
`
`the defendants presented
`
`their arguments against not only the temporary relief sought by
`
`Mr. Haughwout but also against any relief at all on any of the
`
`counts in his complaint. See Docket entry # 108. They appended:
`
`1.
`
`an affidavit
`
`from defendant Christopher Dukes,
`
`the
`
`director of Central's office of student conduct, setting forth his
`
`
`
`

`

`actions in investigating and pursuing charges of violating the
`
`code against Mr. Haughwout;
`
`2. a copy of the “notice of charges and disciplinary hearing”
`
`(written notice) provided to Mr. Haughwout by Mr. Dukes;
`
`3. a complete transcript of the disciplinary hearing held on
`
`October 14, 2015;
`
`4.
`
`copies of
`
`two “case/incident
`
`reports” prepared by
`
`Central’s police department
`
`(campus police)
`
`relating to the
`
`charges against Mr. Haughwout,
`
`in which the names of the students
`
`interviewed were redacted;
`
`5. a copy of Mr. Dukes’ letter to Mr. Haughwout informing him
`
`of the outcome of the disciplinary hearing;
`
`6. copies of letters from and to Mr. Haughwout during his
`
`appeal from the decision of the disciplinary panel,
`
`including a
`
`letter from defendant Ramon Hernandez, Central’s associate dean
`
`for student affairs,
`
`informing Mr. Haughwout that, as the person
`
`designated to consider his appeal, Mr. Hernandez had upheld the
`
`decision of the disciplinary panel
`
`(panel) and the sanction of
`
`expulsion that followed upon that decision.
`
`In response to the defendants’ objection Mr. Haughwout,
`
`too,
`
`rehearsed all the arguments in favor of his claims for permanent
`
`
`
`

`

`§injunctive relief and/or a writ of mandamus restoring him as a
`% full-time student at Central. See Docket entry # 111.
`3
`An
`amended complaint was
`filed on
`June 23,
`
`2016. The
`
`defendants filed an answer and special defenses on July 14. The
`
`pleadings were closed as of July 21, when a reply to the special
`
`defenses was filed. On that date the plaintiff also filed a claim
`
`for a trial to the court.
`
`On August 8, 2016, having reviewed the parties’ filings on
`
`the legal and factual issues raised by the plaintiff's claims and
`
`the defendants’ objection,
`
`the court conducted an evidentiary
`
`hearing. The hearing was directed at three factual issues that had
`
`not been adequately addressed in the parties’ respective filings:
`
`1.
`
`the specific content of a “brief, but detailed telephone
`
`conversation” between Mr. Dukes and Mr. Haughwout prior to the
`
`disciplinary hearing,
`
`referred to in Mr. Dukes’ affidavit,
`
`in
`
`which Mr. Dukes claimed he had orally explained to Mr. Haughwout
`
`the basis of the disciplinary charges against him and sought his
`
`response;
`
`2. whether, prior to the hearing, Mr. Haughwout had obtained
`
`copies of the police reports relating to the investigation and
`
`
`
`

`

`.

`isx:.
`
`E whether the names of the students interviewed by the campus police
`
`had been redacted from those reports;
`
`3. whether, at
`
`the hearing,
`
`the students who had been
`
`interviewed by the campus police or by Mr. Dukes in the course of
`
`his investigation were identified by name.
`
`Mr. Dukes, Mr. Haughwout and Mr. Haughwout’s father Bret
`
`Haughwout testified at
`
`that hearing.
`
`In addition,
`
`the parties
`
`stipulated through counsel to the answers to the second and third
`
`questions. It was stipulated that, about fifteen minutes prior to
`
`the hearing, Mr. Haughwout was provided a number of documents in
`
`response to a freedom of information request he had filed,
`
`that
`
`he chose some of them for copying and among those chosen for
`
`copying were a campus police report dated September 21, 2015 and
`
`an application for an arrest warrant submitted by the campus
`
`police to the state's attorney's office for
`
`the New Britain
`
`Judicial District;
`
`in these documents the names of the students
`
`had been redacted.2 It was also stipulated that, at the hearing,
`
`three of the four student-witnesses were identified by their full
`
`names and one was identified only by his first name, Central not
`
`having his permission to disclose his full name.
`
`
`2 These documents were marked as court's exhibits 1 & 2 for
`the purpose of the August 8 hearing.
`
`-6-
`
`

`

`Prompted by the plaintiff's claim for a court trial filed on
`
`2016,
`
`the court conducted an on—the-record status
`
`conference on October 3, 2016 to determine the parties’ views
`
`whether such a trial would be necessary; if so, the factual issues
`
` i
`
`to be addressed at the trial, and to schedule such a trial. The
`
`parties informed the court that they were in agreement that the
`
`court could proceed to decide the case based on the arguments they
`
`had advanced in their previous filings and in oral argument on May
`
`24 and the evidence it had heard on August 8.
`
`Therefore,
`
`the following facts,
`
`upon which the court's
`
`decision rests, are found from the record of the disciplinary
`
`proceedings against Mr. Haughwout appended to the defendants’
`
`objection to his request for injunctive and/or mandatory relief;
`
`see Docket entry # 108; and the evidence of Mr. Dukes and the
`
`Messrs. Haughwout taken at the August 8 hearing.
`
`II
`
`On September 17, 2015 a student at Central
`
`(complainant)
`
`went
`
`to the headquarters of
`
`the campus police to report
`
`a
`
`incident”
`“suspicious
`
`
`student center.3 This
`
`student
`
`two
`taken from the
`are
`events described here
`3 The
`“case/incident reports” of the campus police provided to the panel
`that decided on Mr. Haughwout's expulsion and that were appended
`to the defendants’ objection. Docket entry # 108. Material
`in
`
`-7-
`
`

`

`provided a written statement in which he said that Mr. Haughwout
`
`“made verbal
`
`cues discussing the physical
`
`harm of another
`
`[Central] student,” identified the other student as “first on his
`
`hit list,” showed digital photos of a bullet on his cell phone and
`
`“remarked that he had loose bullets at home and in his truck.” The
`
`complainant said he did not know Mr. Haughwout, but the statements
`
`were made in his presence. The complainant further reported that
`
`Mr. Haughwout had never shown any weapons on his person, and that
`
`he has “a habit of making hand gestures in the shape of handguns
`
`as a common gesture.”
`
`On September 21, 2015 the campus police interviewed another
`
`Central student who had known Mr. Haughwout since the spring
`
`semester 2015 and hung around with him in a group that met at the
`
`student center. That student recounted statements by Mr. Haughwout
`
`that “someone should shoot up this school” or “I should just shoot
`
`up this school.” Mr. Haughwout was “always” talking about guns and
`
`ammunition and “greets everyone by pointing at them with his hand
`
`in the shape of a gun.” This student reported that Mr. Haughwout
`
`had said to him that he was his (Mr. Haughwout’s)
`
`
`“number one
`
`reported by the police
`represents what was
`quotation marks
`officers who authored the reports. The statements provided to the
`campus police by the complainant and others interviewed were not
`provided to the panel or to this court.
`
`-3-
`
`

`

`zl
`;;
`igtarget,” “number one on my list.” Mr. Haughwout “brags constantly
`
`about his guns and ammunition, shows off pictures and boasts about
`
`wanting to bring a gun to school.” This student described these
`
`statements by Mr. Haughwout as made “jokingly” and that the group
`
`in which they hung around dismissed what he said as a joke.
`
`On
`
`the
`
`same
`
`day
`
`the
`
`campus
`
`police
`
`reinterviewed the
`
`complainant, who
`
`repeated his allegations of September
`
`17.
`
`Although this student,
`
`too, described Mr. Haughwout's statements
`
`as having been made “jokingly,” he was “alarmed” by them, had
`
`started avoiding Mr. Haughwout, left the student center when Mr.
`
`Haughwout arrives and was “afraid for everyone’s safety.”
`
`On September 22 the campus police interviewed a third student
`
`who related that he had heard Mr. Haughwout during the preceding
`
`week state “something like ‘might as well shoot up the place'.”
`
`While this student described Mr. Haughwout's statement as having
`
`been made “nonchalantly,” he was “concerned about the context of
`
`Austin's exclamation” because Mr. Haughwout had been “upset about
`
`something” when he made it.
`
`The campus police interviewed Mr. Haughwout on September 22,
`
`2015 as well. While he acknowledged talking about guns a lot, he
`
`denied ever saying anything about shooting up the school, stating
`
`
`
`

`

`that “he knows better than to mention anything like that.” He
`
`attributed the complaints against him to his position on gun
`
`rights.
`
`After interviewing Mr. Haughwout,
`
`the campus police called
`
`two of the persons they had previously interviewed and inquired
`
`why they had not contacted police upon hearing Mr. Haughwout's
`
`alleged remarks about “shooting up the school.” One said he had
`
`been told by others who heard the remark to “take it as a joke and
`
`ignore Austin”;
`
`the other stated that “didn't take it seriously
`
`but
`
`.
`
`.
`
`. was kind of concerned.”
`
`The defendant Densil Samuda, a detective with the campus
`
`police, participated in this investigation. At its conclusion,
`
`on September 22, he applied for an arrest warrant charging Mr.
`
`Haughwout with the crime of threatening in the second degree,
`
`in
`
`violation of General Statutes § 53a—62.‘ The state's attorney
`
`declined the application, informing Mr. Samuda that probable cause
`
`
`
`4 “A person is guilty of threatening in the second degree
`(1) by physical threat, such person intentionally places or
`when:
`attempts to place another person in fear of
`imminent serious
`physical injury,
`(2) such person threatens to commit any crime of
`violence with the intent to terrorize another person, or (3) such
`person threatens to commit such crime of violence in reckless
`disregard of the risk of causing such terror.”
`
`.,.X
`
`1 D
`
`w5
`’
`
`2E;
`
`
`
`-10-
`
`

`

`for that crime was lacking.5 Mr. Samuda reported the results of
`
`his investigation to Mr. Dukes and provided him with copies of the
`
`police reports.6 On October 1, 2015 Mr. Haughwout was placed on an
`
`interim suspension by defendant Ramon Hernandez “due to your
`
`alleged behavior within our community.” See plaintiff's Exhibit
`
`1, hearing of August 8, 2018.
`
`Mr. Dukes
`
`interviewed the complainant and the two other
`
`students interviewed by campus police as well as a fourth student
`
`who had not gone to the police. He also telephoned Mr. Haughwout
`
`to advise him of the investigation and to obtain his response to
`
`the claims made by the other students. That telephone interview
`
`took place on October 2,
`
`2015 and lasted approximately ten
`
`minutes. Mr. Dukes asked Mr. Haughwout to respond to the allega-
`
`tions in the police reports as to his actions and statements. Mr.
`
`Haughwout denied making those statements at any time.
`
`
`5 The court considers the prosecutor's declination of little
`moment. The requirements for establishing probable cause for the
`elements of threatening in the second degree,
`in violation of §
`53a—62, bear no necessary relationship to the requirements for
`taking disciplinary action for a violation of the code.
`
`5 The amended complaint charges that Mr. Samuda “took it upon
`himself to .
`.
`. enlist the remaining defendants in a conspiracy”
`to have Mr. Haughwout expelled from Central. Docket entry # 115,
`T 12. The only joint effort between Mr. Samuda and any of the
`other defendants that the record supports is a joint effort to
`carry out their respective responsibilities.
`
`-11-
`
`

`

`Mr. Dukes
`
`commenced disciplinary proceedings against Mr.
`
`Haughwout when he sent
`
`the written notice to him on October 9,
`
`2015.
`
`This notice of charges, which is appended to the defendant's
`
`objection, advised Mr. Haughwout
`
`that he was charged with the
`
`following four code violations: physical assault,
`
`intimidation,
`
`threatening behavior; harassment; disorderly conduct; offensive
`
`or disorderly conduct. The notice of charges defined each of the
`
`alleged violations as it is defined in the code and cited Mr.
`
`Haughwout to the relevant sections of the code. It also contained
`
`the following “brief description of facts”:
`
`It is alleged that on numerous occasions Mr. Austin
`Haughwout has made threatening statements and gestures
`towards members of the [Central]
`community. Specifi-
`cally,
`it
`is alleged that on a
`regular basis Mr.
`Haughwout would engage other students in conversations
`about weapons, discuss attacks
`on
`the University,
`and/or make reference to others as a target.
`It
`is
`further alleged that Mr. Haughwout would make gestures
`with his hands indicating that he is aiming and shoot-
`ing at
`individuals as they walk within the Student
`Center.
`
`The written notice also informed Mr. Haughwout that a disciplinary
`
`hearing would be held at 2:00 pm on October 14,
`
`2015 at
`
`the
`
`Central campus police headquarters.
`
`-12..
`
`

`

`That hearing was conducted at the time and place noticed.
`
`E About fifteen minutes prior to the hearing Mr. Haughwout was
`
`provided with a copy of the case/incident report of the campus
`
`police dated September 21, 2015. This is one of the two reports
`
`provided to the panel at
`
`the hearing and is appended to the
`
`defendants’ objection. The names and any other personally identi-
`
`fying information of the students whose statements are recounted
`
`in the report are redacted as are portions of
`
`some of
`
`the
`
`students’ statements,
`
`themselves. See court's exhibit 1, hearing
`
`of August 8, 2016. Mr. Haughwout was also provided with a copy of
`
`the arrest warrant application referred to previously. As with the
`
`case/incident report, all personally identifying information had
`
`been redacted, as had portions of what
`
`the affiant claimed the
`
`students had said to him. See court's exhibit 2, hearing of August
`
`8, 2016. This application was not provided to the panel at the
`
`hearing.’
`
`
`
`7 Mr. Haughwout had requested these documents via a freedom
`of information request he made in September 2015.
`
`-13-
`
`

`

`The hearing was recorded” and a transcript was prepared and
`
`was appended to the defendants’ objection.9The panel consisted of
`
`two members of
`
`the university's administrative staff
`
`and a
`
`professor. Mr. Haughwout was present as was his father Brett
`
`Haughwout, acting as an advisor. Mr. Dukes was present as the
`
`university representative and presented the results of his
`
`investigation to the panel. Both Mr. Haughwout and he declined the
`
`opportunity to challenge any member of the panel for bias. T. 5.
`
`Mr. Haughwout was asked to respond to the notice of charges,
`
`and he declared that he was “not responsible” for any of the four
`
`charges. T. 6-7. In introductory remarks Mr. Haughwout was invited
`
`to make to the panel he stated that “the accusations against me
`
`are entirely false.” T. 10.
`
`Mr. Dukes presented to the panel copies of the two case/inci-
`
`dent reports of the campus police and summarized the results of
`
`his own investigation. Mr. Dukes’ statements to the panel were not
`
`under oath. In the campus police reports the names of three of the
`
`students who claimed to have witnessed and heard the statements
`
`
`3 A recording of the hearing is required when expulsion or
`suspension from Central is a possibility. Code, § B (6)(c).
`
`9 References to pages of the transcript will be “T.” followed
`by the page number. Unless otherwise indicated, material
`in
`quotation marks represents Mr. Dukes’ statements.
`
`
`
`-14-
`
`

`

`the hearing. Neither the complainant nor any of the other students
`
`who had. been interviewed.
`
`by’ Mr. Dukes or
`
`the campus police
`
`appeared before the panel.
`
`Mr. Dukes related that in his interview with Mr. Haughwout
`
`the latter denied all of the allegations made by other students
`
`in the police reports except that he acknowledged having bullets
`
`in his car and having shown digital pictures of bullets to other
`
`students. There had been discussion between Messrs. Dukes and
`
`Haughwout
`
`regarding the latter’s relationships with certain
`
`Central students, some of whom had been interviewed by the police.
`
`Mr. Haughwout identified one student who he thought was trying to
`
`get him kicked out of school.
`
`Mr. Dukes’
`
`interviews with the students who had also been
`
`interviewed by the police elicited the same
`
`information as
`
`recorded in the police reports, with some additions. For example,
`
`two of those students had seen Mr. Haughwout, when persons were
`
`walking through the student center, point his finger at them and
`
`make sound effects as if he were shooting at
`
`them. One of the
`
`
`
`_15_
`
`

`

`witnesses told Mr. Dukes that Mr. Haughwout's constant talk of
`
`guns had caused him and others not to frequent the student center
`
`or to leave if they are already there when Mr. Haughwout arrived.
`
`Another witness interviewed by Mr. Dukes confirmed the reports of
`
`Mr. Haughwout's pointing and making shooting noises at students
`
`in the student center and said, on one occasion, Mr. Haughwout
`
`wondered aloud about how many rounds he would need to shoot
`
`people.
`
`In addition,
`
`two students reported allusions by’ Mr.
`
`Haughwout on October 1, 2015 to the Oregon college shootings as
`
`having “beat us.”” One student
`
`thought he was referring to the
`
`number of students shot there as opposed to the shooting at Sandy
`
`Hook Elementary School;11 the other,
`
`that
`
`the Oregon college
`
`shooting had occurred before a shooting at Central.
`
`The final student interviewed by Mr. Dukes told him that in
`
`the Spring of 2015, during a test of the school alarm system, Mr.
`
`Haughwout stated that “someone should really shoot up the school
`
`for real so that it's not a drill.” T. 21. That student told Mr.
`
`
`
`N On October 1, 2015 a student at Umpqua Community College
`in Roseburg, Oregon shot and killed a professor and eight students
`and wounded nine other students.
`
`” On December 14, 2012 twenty students and six adult staff
`members were shot
`to death by an intruder at
`the Sandy Hook
`Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
`
`-16-
`
`

`

`Dukes that he “deals with anxiety and he wanted to make sure he
`
`was not making a big deal out of it so he just took it as a joke
`
`because other people said it was probably just a joke,
`
`leave it
`
`alone.” T. 21.
`
`Summing up the results of his interviews, Mr. Dukes told the
`
`panel that a total of four students had described Mr. Haughwout’s
`
`actions.
`
`T.
`
`28. Three
`
`students described the shooting hand
`
`gestures;
`
`three heard a comment about shooting up the school;
`
`three heard that a particular student was Mr. Haughwout’s number
`
`one target;
`
`two heard the reference to the Oregon shooting as
`
`having “beat us.” T. 25-26. He also told the panel
`
`that
`
`the
`
`students had not reported the statements when made because they
`
`thought he might be joking, a comment three of the students made
`
`in their police interviews. T. 24. Throughout his testimony Mr.
`
`Dukes referred by name to three of the four students who had
`
`described Mr. Haughwout’s conduct.”
`
`Throughout his testimony Mr. Dukes referred to the complain-
`
`ant and to two of the other students whose interviews he summa-
`
`
`
`” At the hearing on August 8, 2016 the defendants provided
`the court with a list of those pages of the transcript where the
`complainant and other witnesses were identified by name and the
`names that were used. See court's exhibit 3, hearing of August 8,
`2016.
`
`
`
`-17-
`
`

`

`rized by their
`
`full names. A fourth student had not given
`
`permission to disclose his full name at the hearing;
`
`therefore,
`
`he was referred to only by his first name because Central believed
`
`that,
`
`without his permission,
`
`the student's name could not be
`
`disclosed under the terms of the federal Family and Educational
`
`Rights Privacy Act
`
`(FERPA).”
`
`At the conclusion of Mr. Dukes’ statements to the panel, Mr.
`
`Haughwout was offered the opportunity to question him; he declined
`
`to do so. T. 30. He was invited to respond to Mr. Dukes’ recital
`
`while being assured he was not obligated to respond and his
`
`declining to respond would not be considered by the panel as
`
`evidence of his responsibility for any of the charges. T. 31.
`
`In addressing the allegations of his fellow students, Mr.
`
`Haughwout acknowledged having a bullet in his car on one occasion
`
`and offered an explanation. T. 31-32. He had made
`
`shooting
`
`gestures, he confirmed, but only a few times and to one student
`
`who had made similar gestures toward him. T. 32. Regarding the
`
`Oregon shooting, he had mentioned only that
`
`there were more
`
`victims than at Sandy Hook;
`
`therefore,
`
`it would get bigger
`
`publicity. T. 32-33. He “never made any mention of this school
`
`
`” See pp. 27-28, below, for further discussion of FERPA in
`the context of this case.
`
`-18..
`
`
`
`

`

`being the next one or that
`
`they beat us in any way,
`
`shape or
`
`form.” T. 33. He denied ever saying he would “shoot up” the
`
`school.
`
`Id. He referred to the school's test of its emergency
`
`warning system only in the way of speculating how well it would
`
`%work in a real emergency. Id. Mr. Haughwout affirmed that he has
`z
`
`many conversations in the student center about gun rights but has
`
`never made threatening comments
`
`to other students. T. 48.
`
`In
`
`summing up his position to the panel he repeated his statement
`
`that the allegations against him were “entirely false.” T. 78.
`
`III
`
`Mr. Haughwout has two complaints about the proceedings that
`
`led to his expulsion; namely,
`
`that they deprived him of the due
`
`process of
`
`law guaranteed to him by the federal
`
`and state
`
`constitutions and that they failed to conform to Central’s own
`
`code. The court will consider those claims together.
`
`“A student attending a state college has a liberty interest
`
`in continuing that education. Board of Regents v. Roth, 408 U.S.
`
`564, 572 (1972). Disciplinary actions which seriously damage a
`
`student's reputation among fellow students and teachers and which
`
`may impair future educational and employment opportunities affect
`
`a liberty interest and such actions must satisfy procedural due
`
`
`
`

`

`it
`I.
`
`éprocess. Goss V. Lopez, 419 U.S. 565, 575-76 (1975).” Danso v.
`
`§UniVersity of Connecticut, 50 Conn. Sup. 256, 263 (2007). There
`gcan be no question but that Central’s procedures that led to Mr.
`
`Haughwout’s expulsion had to meet the demands of the due process
`
`clauses of the federal and state constitutions.“
`
`“Once it is determined that due process applies, the question
`
`remains what process is due.” Mbrrissey V. Brewer, 408 U.S. 471,
`
`481 (1972). Many times over the United States Supreme Court has
`
`made clear that there are two basic due process requirements:
`
`(1)
`
`notice and (2)
`
`an opportunity to be heard. See,
`
`e.g.,
`
`Goss v.
`
`Lopez, supra, 419 U.S. 579.
`
`Federal district and circuit courts, as well as numerous
`
`state courts, have reviewed countless disciplinary due process
`
`claims brought by students. Applying the framework first laid out
`
`in Matthews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319, 334-35 (1976),
`
`in determin-
`
`ing what process is due,
`
`these courts generally have looked at
`
`three factors:
`
`(1)
`
`the nature of the private interest affected,
`
`
`
`“ Mr. Haughwout makes no claim that the state Constitution
`places any greater or different demands on Central
`than the
`federal Constitution. Therefore,
`the court's analysis of what due
`process required of Central will apply to the requirements of both
`Constitutions.
`
`
`
`-20..
`
`

`

`i.e., the seriousness of the charge and potential sanctions,” (2)
`
`the danger of error and the benefit of additional or alternate
`
`procedures, and (3)
`
`the public or governmental burden if addi-
`
`tional procedures were required.
`
`Sometimes oral notice is sufficient. See Goss v. Lopez,
`
`supra, 419 U.S. 584. “The stronger the private interest, however,
`
`the more likely a formal written notice .
`
`.
`
`. is constitutionally
`
`required.” Fiaim v. Medical College of Ohio, supra 418 F.3d 635.
`
`§When the student is permitted to attend the hearing,
`
`the notice
`
`‘need not contain a list of witnesses and evidence. Nash v. Auburn
`
`University, 812 F. 2d 655, 662-63 (llm Cir. 1987).
`
`5
`
`“The hearing, whether formal,
`
`informal, live or not, must be
`
`§§meaningful and must provide the accused with the opportunity to
`
`respond, explain, and defend.
`
`.
`
`.
`
`. If the hearing is live,
`
`the
`
`accused has the right to be present for all significant portions
`
`of the hearing. Courts have generally been unanimous, however,
`
`in
`
`concluding that hearings need not be open to the public,
`
`that neither rules of evidence nor rules of civil or criminal
`
`
`
`y g
`
`” Generally speaking, a more searching inquiry is required
`for disciplinary expulsions,
`such as Mr. Haughwout’s,
`than
`academic ones. Elaim v. Medical College of Ohio, 418 F. 3d 629,
`633 (6“ Cir. 2005).
`
`-21-
`
`

`

`procedure need be applied .
`
`.
`
`. and witnesses need not be placed
`
`under oath. Ordinarily, colleges and universities need not allow
`
`lactive representation by legal counsel or
`
`some other sort of
`
`campus
`
`advocate.”
`
`(Internal
`
`citations
`
`and quotation marks
`
`omitted.) Flaim v. Medical College of Ohio, supra, 418 F. 3d 635-
`
`An accused student will generally have a right
`
`to make a
`
`35.
`
`ie i
`
`i
`
`including calling exculpatory
`
`A 3
`
`:*statement and present evidence,
`
`.witnesses. At least in the most serious cases,
`
`the student will
`
`.have a right to cross-examine witnesses against him. Id., 636. A
`
`transcript or
`
`recording of a disciplinary proceeding may not
`
`:always be constitutionally required. The student is not generally
`
`;entitled to a statement of the reasons for a decision against
`
`‘them, at least where the reasons are obvious, nor is an appeal
`
`:£1 3 g
`
`
`
`
`ffrom an adverse decision required. Id.
`
`This court's task is to decide whether
`
`the procedures
`
`
`
`employed by Central in disciplining Mr. Haughwout measured up to
`
`the demands of the due process clauses of the state and federal
`
`constitutions, as those demands have been explicated by federal
`
` and state courts. The court must also determine whether
`the
`
`
`
`

`

`.procedures employed in Mr. Haughwout's case were those required
`
`by the code.
`
`The court concludes that Central’s procedures comported with
`
`the constitutional demands and with Central’s code.
`
`Mr. Haughwout received both oral and written notice of the
`
`charges against him. Mr. Dukes credibly testified at the August
`
`8 hearing that, before he brought charges against Mr. Haughwout,
`
`he had a ten—minute phone conversation with him in which he
`
`advised Mr. Haughwout of the specific allegations made against him
`
`by fellow students as recorded in the campus police reports and
`
`sought his response. He advised Mr. Haughwout that his statements
`
`and actions were alleged to have taken place at the student center
`
`during the spring and fall semesters of 2015. According to Mr.
`
`Dukes, Mr. Haughwout denied ever having made any of the statements
`
`or
`
`taken any of
`
`the actions attributed to hinn by"
`
`the other
`
`students. He asked for no details of the accusations nor the names
`
`of any of the students. This interview took place on October 2,
`
`2015.
`
`A week later, on October 9, Mr. Dukes sent Mr. Haughwout the
`
`written notice referred.
`
`to and quoted from earlier in this
`
`
`
`

`

`:memorandum.” In addition to quoting the specific sections of the
`.§code he was alleged to have violated,
`the written notice included
`
`§a “brief description of the facts.” That description informed Mr.
`:Haughwout that he was accused of making “threatening statements
`
`and gestures toward members of the [Central] community,” discuss-
`
`ing “attacks
`
`on the University,” making reference to other
`
`students as targets and making gestures with his hands as if he
`
`were shooting at other students as they walked through the student
`
`center. The court considers this sufficient to put Mr. Haughwout
`
`on notice of what Central would seek to prove at
`
`the hearing
`
`scheduled for October 14,
`
`2015 and to conform to the code's
`
`requirement that the notice provided to an accused student “shall
`
`advise [him] of each section of the Student Code alleged to have
`
`been violated and, with respect to each such section, a statement
`
`of
`
`the acts or omissions which are alleged to constitute a
`
`violation of the Code, including the approximate time when and the
`
`place where such acts or omissions allegedly occurred.” Code,
`

`
`II (B)(6)(a).
`
`From Mr. Dukes’ phone conversation of October 2, Mr.
`
`Haughwout would also have known that
`
`the allegations of
`
`this
`
`
`
`“ See p. 12, above.
`
`-24..
`
`

`

`behavior on his part came from fellow students with whom he had
`
`i contact in the student center during the spring and fall semesters
`% of 2015.
`
`The letter sent by Mr. Dukes on October 9, enclosing the
`
`written notice, also enclosed a copy of the code that spelled out
`
`disciplinary procedures
`
`for
`
`non—academic misconduct
`
`and
`
`a
`
`student's rights in the course of such procedures, The letter
`
`invited Mr. Haughwout to call Mr. Dukes with any questions.
`
`Finally,
`
`the letter of October 9 advised Mr. Haughwout that
`
`the hearing was scheduled for October 14,
`
`thus giving him more
`
`than the three calendar days called for in the code to prepare for
`
`the hearing. Code,
`
`§ II
`
`(B)(6)(a). The code allows the accused
`
`student
`
`to request “a delay of the hearing due to extenuating
`
`circumstances.” Id. Mr. Haughwout did not
`
`seek any delay or
`
`continuance of the hearing.
`
`As far as the hearing, itself,
`
`is concerned, Mr. Haughwout
`
`was present throughout, along with his father as his advisor. This
`
`conformed to the code.
`
`Id.,
`
`§ II
`
`(B)(6)(b). He was given the
`
`opportunity to challen

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