Law Students

10th Circuit tosses law student's suit over expulsion procedure

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A University of Kansas law student who was expelled after disclosing his criminal convictions has lost his appeal in a federal appeals court.

The Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday affirmed dismissal of the suit filed by Robert Brown, which alleged the school denied him due process, the National Law Journal reports.

Brown said in his complaint that he didn’t disclose misdemeanor convictions for driving under the influence and domestic battery because they were old and he didn’t think them relevant, according to the NLJ account. He was convicted of two counts of DUI after arrests in the 1970s and 1980s, and three counts of domestic battery after arrests between 1994 and 1996.

Brown disclosed the convictions after arriving on campus in 2009 and learning that undisclosed criminal convictions could create problems when applying for admission to the bar, according to the NLJ.

The law school application had asked about criminal history and warned that false answers could result in denied admission or dismissal from the law school.

An admissions committee found that Brown would not have been admitted if the information were known and an academic dean filed a misconduct complaint. A hearing panel dismissed the complaint because it didn’t allege violation of a particular rule, but observed that Brown had acknowledged he could be expelled for false information on the law school application.

The law dean sent Brown a letter stating her intent to expel him and telling him he could respond in writing if he believed the action inappropriate or she should consider mitigating factors. Brown demanded a hearing, which was denied, and he was kicked out of the law school.

Brown had argued that more formal procedures were needed before his dismissal, but the appeals court said any benefits would be minimal in light of the disputed facts. When Brown responded, he raised procedural objections but didn’t address the fact that he provided false information, the appeals court said in this opinion (PDF).

“In light of these undisputed facts, further procedural safeguards would have added little,” the appeals court said.

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