last Friday afternoon i had a formal Student Conduct Hearing with the Associate Dean of Student Conduct at the Law School because i brought Monster to the campus library for ten minutes last November.
[see yesterday's post.]
i had three charges to answer for:
-Rule 24.4.6: Failure To Comply With A Proper And Lawful Direction Of Any University Official or Law Enforcement Officer
-Rule: 24.4.7 Failure To Present Identification Upon The Request Of A University Official, and
-Rule: 24.4.9 Violation Of A Published University Rule
but first...

i had Property class Friday morning.
i walked in a few minutes before 8:30am, got myself set up at my usual spot and found one of my classmates, the Frat Boy, standing at the front of the room, staring at me, his face eager with anticipation.
Thursday evening i received several text messages from the Frat Boy about my Student Conduct Hearing.
Thursday afternoon i happened to mention my situation to one dude, an older dude who i sit near in Contracts, but i guess some girls overheard me tell that guy what happened, and the girls told the Frat Boy.
how the Frat Boy got my phone number is an entirely different mystery.
anyways, Thursday evening the Frat Boy wanted to talk my ear off about the situation, about how he'd beaten any number of Student Conduct Hearings in his time both as an undergraduate and in his first semester at the Law School, and he was eager to share his experiences.
he urged me to call him on the phone but i did not want to do that.
i don't even like talking to the friends i have, let alone new ones.
undeterred, the Frat Boy called me. i let it go to voicemail but there the kid was first thing Friday morning, grinning at me, eager to tell me what a mess of bullshit Student Conduct Hearings are.
i listened to him big brother me for a while and thanked him sincerely for his concern.
fifty minutes later, at break, my phone buzzed with an e-mail from the Frat Boy.
he had spent the entire first half of Property class typing up a character reference for me on his laptop.
the guy has been in student government all his life, he's a Student Bar Association representative, and he knows all the words to hit.
“TITS has a big heart and an even bigger sense of duty to serve a cause bigger then himself.” “TITS embraces and lives the Aggie Core Values every day.” “TITS is a great value to our community.”
when it came time for my Student Conduct Conference later that afternoon i didn't turn over my character reference from my friend the Frat Boy, that seems silly, but i'll be goddamned if i wasn't touched.

my Student Conduct Hearing was schedule for 2:30pm, a half hour after my last class on Friday.
i went down to the office at 2:10 to review my Student Conduct File and compose my arguments.
i'd been working on it all week, but, i wanted to put on the finishing touches.
i sat in the Secretary to the Associate Dean's office for a while scribbling notes on my notepad then, at 2:25 it was time to follow the Secretary down to the basement, to a little room off of the Library that i never noticed was there before.
outside there was a big 30.06 sign saying that handguns were not allowed in the Student Conduct Conference room.
you know, in case somebody gets so upset by the disciplinary actions they might be facing at school that they decide to start shooting people.
i left my handgun at the house.

inside the special disciplinary room i met the the Associate Dean of Student Conduct.
he was a friendly man who went out of his way to try to make me feal comfortable with the process.
he told me straight off the bat that i wasn't in any danger of being kicked out of school or even jeopardizing my scholarship, the most i could be looking at is a Letter of Reprimand that would go in my file and would have to be reported to the Board of Law Examiners if and when i ever sit the bar.
the Dean told me that like i would be relieved but, motherfucker, if i walk out of this room with anything short of an apology for the insult and waste of my time, i'll be pissed.
i am the aggrieved party here. i did nothing wrong. fuck if i'm gonna let you guys give me a letter of reprimand.
i let the Dean know that i did not intend to settle for a letter of reprimand, and i began with my opening remarks.

i started off by letting the Dean know that i found this whole process disheartening.
that i never would have thought that something as trivial as bringing a dog to the library would be something that could jeopardize my entire future as an attorney and that i questioned why the school had allowed the situation to come to this.
further, that after reading the incident report that the school security staff wrote up describing me as “weird” several times, it was hard not to feel a little persecuted.
then i moved into the charges i was facing.
as to Rule 24.4.6: Failure To Comply i let the Dean know that by my interpretation of events i did comply.
that according to the Officer's own written statements, i was out of the library ten minutes after he encountered me, and that when i told him i would be ten minutes, he stood down, which i took as implied consent for me to proceed with what i was doing.
as to Rule: 24.4.7 Failure To Present Identification, i let the Dean know that i gave my first name to the first security officer i interacted with and he never asked for a last name or to see my school ID.
since there was no video of the event, nor were the security officers there to give testimony, it was really my word against a written incident report.
the Associate Dean for Student Conduct was willing to give me the benefit of the doubt for both charges.
the stinker, though was the third charge, Rule: 24.4.9 Violation Of A Published University Rule.
i didn't know how i was going to get around that one.

i explained to the Dean that i brought the Monster to school because i had to, and that, like when i take her to a grocery store or anywhere else, i was operating under the “if anybody has a problem with this, i'll leave” rule.
he told me that that wasn't good enough, that the Library Handbook specifically says “no animals allowed in the library” and he was reading that as a strict liability rule.
you do it, you are in violation.
he said he didn't see any way i could get out of that one short of denying that i brought a dog into the library, which i couldn't do.
but i'm a clever TITS and i pressed on.
at first i tried “fruit of the poison tree.”
i said that because the security guard didn't and couldn't know that Monster was not a service animal -he wrote all kinds of things in his incident report that display a clear misunderstanding of the Americans with Disabilities Act- that the evidence he gathered to write me up was therefore invalid.
the Dean didn't buy that one. the bar for permissibillity of evidence is much lower.
and the standard of review is just “more likely then not” that a thing happened.
but my second line of attack was that if the Dean was going to take the possession that Rule: 24.4.9 Violation Of A Published University Rule was a strict liability offense, he had a responsibility to make sure that it was being enforced one-hundred percent of the time in every circumstance.
if he can't assure me that every person who gets caught doing something against school regulations gets written up and sent to a Student Conduct Hearing, then it becomes a matter of selective enforcement.
and given the discriminatory things written in the security guard's incident report about me being “weird,” it was hard to not feel like this was about persecuting me individually.
i closed with appealing to proprietorial discretion, that as the arbiter in this matter, he had the power to charge or not charge me as he saw fit.
that having the Monster in the library for a few minutes wasn't worth a permanent black mark on my future career and it is up to him to prevent an injustice being done.

i spent about forty-five minutes sparring with the Associate Dean for Student Conduct.
he was almost certain that he was going to get me on Rule: 24.4.9 Violation Of A Published University Rule because that's a trap that can sink anybody's boat, but in the end, i was able to persuade him with my selective enforcement argument.
even more, the Associate Dean seemed genuinely impressed by my litigation skills.
i was good on my feet, going back and forth with him, countering his points and hitting him with my own.
if Law School was all like this instead of having to memorize a bunch of lame rules and boring ol' precedent, i would be having a much better time.
the guy said he really looked forward to seeing me lawyer one day, and signed my form next to the “Not Responsible” finding.

i walked out of the conference feeling pretty pleased with myself.
i sent first a text message to my friend the Frat Boy, then another to my Academic Support classmates through a GroupMe, which is a kind of mass-texting chat thing that i find myself in.
because kids these days love to communicate in pictures and meems, i sent a picture of OJ Simpson looking smug with the words “Not Guilty” i big bold letters.
five of them gave me “likes” whatever that's worth.

//[ab irato ad astra]

September 2017

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