Judicial officer is a common role within a college's student or judicial affairs office. This office adjudicates discipline hearings and appeals when a student allegedly violates a college handbook policy. The judicial officer essentially plays multiple roles, including investigator and judge, in evaluating student cases.
The starting point of the judicial review process is assignment of a student's case to a judicial officer. The officer typically reviews claims that the student violated academic or conduct policies in the school's handbook. During this process, the officer gathers supporting documentation and typically meets with the student and others involved in the incident. In some cases, a student may also produce supporting letters or references from faculty or staff.
Judgments and Sanctions
The judgment and sanction roles of a judicial officer vary by school. In some cases, the officer reviews all of the evidence and decides whether a violation occurred. If it did occur, the school administers sanctions such as probation, suspension or expulsion. Some colleges require that some or all cases go before a judicial review board at the request of an officer. If a student faces possible suspension or expulsion, for instance, the officer might have to refer the case for board review if she feels a violation occurred.
Policy Development and Training
A primary responsibility of the judicial officer is to ensure each student gets just access to due process, as required by federal and state law. Because laws governing student rights evolve, the officer must attend meetings and stay current in understanding student rights and responsibilities. Additionally, the officer must educate and train the college community on the rights and responsibilities of faculty, staff and students in dealing with possible conduct violations.
Educational requirements vary, based on the significance of the officer's role. A bachelor's degree is typical. In fact, some colleges employ graduate students as judicial officers. Legal background is often helpful because of the privacy laws and other regulations that affect the relationship among colleges, students, faculty and staff. Professionalism, excellent communication, sound judgment, high integrity and organizational skills are also normally necessary.
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