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Tough Lesson In a 3-0 decision on June 12, Houston’s 14th Court of Appeals held that a student dismissed from a law school did not have a due process right to procedures established in the school’s rules and regulations. Kemah solo Keith Gross, attorney for Robert Jackson, says the 14th Court’s ruling in Jackson v. Texas Southern University-Thurgood Marshall School of Law, et al. will affect every student at every Texas college and university that has enacted similar rules. Students won’t be able to rely on their institution’s rules, Gross says. Tom Kelley, spokesman for the Texas Office of the Attorney General (OAG), which represents TSU, its dean and faculty, declines comment on the ruling. According to the 14th Court’s opinion, Jackson sued TSU and the other defendants, alleging, among other things, a denial of due process under 42 U.S.C. �1983, after the school dismissed him in 2004 for failing to maintain a 2.0 grade point average. Jackson attributed his dismissal to a low grade he received in a class after the instructor gave him a zero for collaborating with another student on a paper. Under Section 3 of TSU’s rules and regulations, the student honor court has exclusive jurisdiction over all allegations of cheating and plagiarism. As noted in the opinion, Jackson filed an honor court complaint against the other student, who had asked to see his paper, but the school notified Jackson of his dismissal before the honor court complaint was resolved. Jackson appealed to TSU’s Academic Standards Committee to change the grade on the paper, but the committee denied Jackson’s petition, 14th Court Justice Wanda McKee Fowler noted in the opinion. The 234th District Court granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment, and Jackson appealed. “The case begs the legal question of how much process is “due process’ for receiving a grade on a single assignment, especially when the Plaintiff [Jackson] himself admits that he shared his work with a fellow student . . . and both received the identical grade of zero on the assignment for doing so,” the OAG argued in its brief to the 14th Court. In its opinion, the 14th Court cited the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1983 decision in Olim v. Wakinekona that an individual does not have a substantive interest in specific procedures developed by the state. “Following the reasoning of Olim we conclude that Jackson has failed to state a cognizable due process claim because he has no substantive interest in specific rules,” Fowler wrote. Chief Justice Adele Hedges and Justice Richard Edelman joined in the decision. Gross says Olim addressed whether a prisoner had a property interest in the procedures for transferring him or in his prisoner classification. The prisoner classification system was created for the benefit of the state, but the TSU rules were enacted for the benefit of the school’s students, Gross says. He says the 14th Court disagreed with a 1997 decision by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas in Sylvester v. Texas Southern University that a student had both a procedural and substantive right to contest his grade. In the future, students probably should file such suits in the federal courts, Gross says. Business Opportunity Dallas lawyer Darrell Jordan may not appear to have much in common with Texas’ thousands of undocumented workers, but he shares their hopes that the U.S. Congress will pass a bill overhauling the country’s immigration system. Jordan, whose bid to become Dallas mayor ended unsuccessfully in May, left Godwin Pappas Ronquillo on June 1 with plans to launch a venture to help businesses and individuals comply with new immigration laws if they are approved by Congress. “I am hoping that the Congress will pass a comprehensive immigration reform act and the president will sign it, and in which case some others and I will organize a business � frankly we are in the process of doing that now � that will help businesses comply with the act and also assist the folks who need to register [with the government] do so,” he says. “It’s going to be a huge logistical problem for the government, and we think a business set up to assist employers and employees is going to be very timely,” says Jordan, who had been of counsel at Godwin Pappas in Dallas. Jordan declines to identify other individuals involved with the plans for the immigration-service business, but he says “several prominent Dallas business leaders” are involved. Jordan says the proposed business would contract out legal services, and the group is talking with a prominent immigration lawyer in Dallas about that possibility. Jordan sees a market for the immigration service business among hotels, school districts, restaurants and the construction industry, because all are likely to employ people who would need to file paperwork to obtain work permits. Since he left Godwin Pappas, Jordan says he has officed temporarily at Webb & Ackels in Dallas, the firm where his daughter, Stacy Jordan Rodriguez, practices. Donald Godwin, a partner in 81-lawyer Godwin Pappas, says Jordan “continues to be a great friend.”

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