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Suspended University of Colorado at Boulder undergraduate student Carlos Martinez filed a lawsuit in the 20th Judicial District of Colorado against the U.Colo. Board of Regents, arguing the school breached its university-student contract by denying him due process and a fair hearing before suspending him. He requested a declaratory injunction against the school and judicial review of the school’s entire code of conduct. The case stems from a phone call Martinez made to the bursar’s office in December 1999. According to Martinez, bursar’s representative Natalie Gutierrez did not provide adequate service to him. He asked for her name to file a complaint, although he never did file such a document. After the phone call, the university began taking disciplinary action against Martinez, alleging he created a “hostile environment” and ordering him to attend anger management classes. Later, they ordered him to write an apology letter. Instead, he filed suit against the school, citing breech of contract based on the Student Handbook, specifically the section on the Rights and Responsibilities Regarding the Standards of Conduct. Subsequently, he was suspended from the university, and he and his seven-year old daughter were forced to move out of university housing. The school picked a tough student to go after, however. Martinez, 29, knew the rules at UC-Boulder because, until his suspension, he served as an appointed appellate court justice for the UC-Boulder student government, which is the largest body of its type in the country. He would have graduated in May with a double major in philosophy and sociology. His case is before 20th Judicial District Judge Morris Sandstead, who will make a decision in the next 10 days on the preliminary injunction. Martinez said he has not decided whether to file a federal case of constitutional rights violation yet, because he read a recent Law Review article suggesting state courts may achieve better results for him than federal courts. Currently, he represents himself in the case. “Schools simply do not use the care and diligence required when exercising their power over students,” Martinez tells American Lawyer Media. “Any person in the United States would have better access to due process than a university student,” he says. A declaratory judgment finding the university in violation of his constitutional rights would illuminate the routine violation of students’ rights by universities across the country, he said.

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