Under the new Title IX regulations, the gender-equity law, on-campus sexual misconduct cases may be resolved through the process of informal resolution. This process is different from a formal investigation, which involves a more “traditional” court-like process referred to as a live hearing. Instead, the informal resolution process involves mediation, education, and restorative justice. The goal of informal resolution is to facilitate a mutually agreeable outcome for the alleged conduct.

The informal resolution process must be voluntary, and both the complainant and the respondent must agree to proceed. At any time, parties are allowed to withdraw from the informal resolution, in which case a formal investigation process will begin. Regardless of the chosen method of resolution, schools must implement interim measures and fulfill other mandatory response obligations.

What are the restrictions given to schools regarding the informal resolution?

A school may NOT offer informal resolution…

  • As a default option: a formal complaint must be filed before a school offers an informal resolution process.
  • As a condition for enrollment or continuing enrollment
  • As a condition for employment or continuing employment
  • As a condition for the enjoyment of any right or privilege
  • When the complaint is against a faculty member or school staff

What might the typical process of informal resolution look like?

  1. The complainant files a formal report.
  2. The school’s Title IX coordinators will review the case.
  3. Title IX coordinators will contact both the complainant and the respondent to discuss possible options, including an informal resolution.
  4. If both parties agree, and if applicable to the case, parties enter the informal resolution process.
  5. Title IX coordinators or counselors will provide necessary support and considerations for the complainant, as part of the school’s response obligations.
  6. Title IX coordinators or counselors will meet with the respondent for developmental conversations and guidance.
  7. Title IX coordinators will discuss with the respondent any course of action to be taken, which may include counseling, behavior programs, and mediation.
  8. Both parties will be notified of the outcomes of the informal resolution process.

Do students have the right to due process?

Part of schools’ responsibilities under the new regulations of Title IX is to ensure that all members of the school community are aware of their right to due process.

Under the new regulations, schools may only offer informal resolution if there was a formal complaint filed. Complainants and respondents must be cognisant of their right to a formal Title IX investigation before agreeing to enter an informal resolution. It is also important that parties know that they can withdraw from informal resolution anytime in favor of a formal investigation.

In a formal investigation, both the complainant and the respondent have an equal opportunity to present evidence, witnesses, and even expert witnesses in a live hearing. A formal investigation gives both parties due-process protections, and for respondents, a shield against unfair disciplinary actions.

State v. B.S.: Not Guilty Verdict in First Degree Murder Case.

In this case, our client was charged with First Degree Murder in connection with a “drive-by” shooting that occurred in Charlotte, NC. The State’s evidence included GPS ankle monitoring data linking our client was at the scene of the crime and evidence that our client confessed to an inmate while in jail. Nonetheless, we convinced a jury to unanimously find our client Not Guilty. He was released from jail the same day.

State v. S.G.: First Degree Murder Charge Dismissed..

Our client was charged with First Degree for the shooting death related to alleged breaking and entering. The State’s evidence included a co-defendant alleging that our client was the shooter. After conducting a thorough investigation with the use of a private investigator, we persuaded the State to dismiss entirely the case against our client.

State v. B.D.: First Degree Murder Charged Dismissed.

After conducting an investigation and communicating with the prosecutor about the facts and circumstances indicating that our client acted in self-defense, the case was dismissed and deemed a justifiable homicide.

State v. I.R.: Reduction from First Degree Murder to Involuntary Manslaughter and Concealment of Death..

Our client was charged with the First Degree Murder of a young lady by drug overdose. After investigating the decedent’s background and hiring a preeminent expert toxicologist to fight the State’s theory of death, we were able to negotiate this case down from Life in prison to 5 years in prison, with credit for time served.

State v. J.G.:

Our client was charged with First Degree Murder related to a “drug deal gone bad.” After engaging the services of a private investigator and noting issues with the State’s case, we were able to negotiate a plea for our client that avoided a Life sentence and required him to serve only 12 years.