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Georgia Tech defensive tackle Reggie Koon has managed to stay enforcement of a disciplinary ruling kicking him out of school for the rest of the academic year. Koon, a sophomore from Miami who is on an athletic scholarship, filed a court challenge to the school’s ruling and to Tech’s entire student disciplinary system. He argued that he was denied basic due process rights during an all-nighter hearing: 22 hours presided over by a student-composed Undergraduate Judiciary Cabinet. Koon’s courthouse trek, made on the eve of the Yellow Jackets’ Nov. 1 nationally televised game with North Carolina, paid off: Tech first agreed to hold off enforcing the suspension until a court hearing could be held before Fulton Superior Court Judge Alford J. Dempsey. Just prior to the scheduled Nov. 20 court hearing, the school agreed to a longer stay — until the state Board of Regents reviews the case. Koon was accused of violating student policy prohibiting nonconsensual sexual contact, a charge stemming from a March 16 encounter with a female student in his dorm room. The female student claims that nonconsensual sexual contact occurred. She is not, according to the court filings, alleging that she was raped. Koon has not been charged criminally, according to his lawyer, Alan C. Manheim. FIRST JUDGMENT OVERTURNED This was Koon’s second such hearing on the incident before the Undergraduate Judiciary Cabinet. Student justices earlier this year also found he had violated the rules, but Tech administrators concluded that the student court had erred and overturned its findings. In his petition for a restraining order on the second action, Koon claims that the female student voluntarily spent the night in his room and that sexual contact occurred, “the dispute being the voluntariness thereof.” There were no witnesses, according to the court file. But the issue in the Fulton Superior Court case is what happened after the incident. Manheim, in the petition, contends that his client was “subjected” to the school’s judicial process, which afforded him neither procedural nor substantive due process. Koon v. Board of Regents, No. 2001CV44798 (Fult. Super. filed Oct. 31, 2001). The Board of Regents is represented by Senior Assistant Attorney General Alfred L. Evans Jr. A spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office, Russ Willard, says it would be premature to comment while the Board of Regents is reviewing the disciplinary action. Koon’s petition seeks a declaratory judgment that Tech’s disciplinary system does not provide sufficient due process rights to students. Each school in Georgia’s university system has its own disciplinary procedures. 1993 UGA CASE CITED Judging by court papers, however, there is little Georgia law on exactly how student disciplinary systems should operate. In remarks to the student judges before his marathon September hearing, Koon cited a 1993 Georgia Supreme Court case, Red & Black Publishing v. Board of Regents, 262 Ga. 848, as laying out the proper methodology. In that open records case, the court says in a footnote that UGA’s student court hearings operate under procedural rules similar to trial courts and must be conducted in public. Gerald R. Weber Jr., who heads the Georgia ACLU, says most case law on students’ due prucess rights deals with public elementary and high schools, not universities. But students typically are not accorded the same due process rights as they would get in a trial court setting. Students’ due process rights “are not nonexistent,” Weber says, “but they are diminished.” In Goss v. Lopez, 419 U.S. 565 (1975), the U.S. Supreme Court said high school students who were suspended for short periods were entitled to notice and the opportunity for a hearing, but not the full range of due process rights. The justices also noted that, “Longer suspensions or expulsions � may require more formal procedures.” Koon, in his statement prior to the September hearing, said Georgia Tech’s procedure didn’t meet the standards laid out by the Georgia Supreme Court and that he objected to the proceedings. He complained that, despite being charged with violations that “could be in the nature of criminal offense,” he was denied basic rights. He blasted the proceedings as a “secret criminal trial” in violation of the U.S. Constitution. During the lengthy hearing, according to his court petition, Koon was not allowed to: � Confront all the witnesses against him by conducting cross-examinations; � Observe all the witnesses against him; � Present evidence in his chosen order or manner, or to subpoena witnesses on his behalf; or � Have a lawyer speak for him. Witnesses, the suit says, testified by telephone and testified without any direct knowledge of the incident. Georgia Tech’s student disciplinary rules provide that witnesses in disciplinary proceedings may testify only as to their direct knowledge. Koon was not allowed to question his accuser directly, but had to ask questions through the student chief justice. He also was told that he must testify before presenting other witnesses on his behalf, the suit says. While he was allowed to have his lawyer present, Manheim, according to court filings, couldn’t speak on Koon’s behalf. The proceedings, the complaint says, began at 8:30 in the evening and ran until 6 p.m. the next day. Koon’s request for a recess, “due to his counsel’s inability to function without sleep,” was denied by the student chief justice. The September hearing was convened, with nearly all the same student justices from the first hearing, according to the suit. Koon argued that the justices should be disqualified because they had prior knowledge of the facts of the case and had already made a determination that he should be disciplined, but most of the justices refused. SUSPENSION ORDERED Tech administrators decided his punishment: immediate suspension through the spring semester 2002, and permanent housing probation after that. An Oct. 29 letter from Lee Wilcox, vice president of student affairs, gave Koon until Nov. 1 to leave the campus, but said his suspension from class and all Tech activities was effective immediately. That’s when the football player and his lawyer went to court, asking a judge to enjoin enforcement of the disciplinary decision until Koon received due process. Tech had refused to address Koon’s constitutional arguments in the proceedings, Manheim pointed out in the petition. He asked the court to declare Tech’s student disciplinary rules and policies “unenforceable, constitutionally infirm and ineffectual in their entirety.” Without an injunction, Manheim argued, Koon would suffer irreparable harm to his education and his ability to keep his athletic scholarship. Manheim also attached the affidavit of another attorney who had met with Tech officials on Koon’s behalf. J. Wyman Lamb’s affidavit states that Tech General Counsel Randy A. Nordin told him the student disciplinary procedure was “flawed and inadequate with respect to due process” and that he intended to review and make changes to the system. Nordin did not return a call for this story. Koon, according to statistics, didn’t play during Georgia Tech’s game last weekend against the University of Georgia Bulldogs.

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