Amicus Briefs

On July 2, 2021, NWLC joined an amicus brief, led by the California Women’s Law Center and Equal Rights Advocates and three student survivors of gender-based violence, to the Supreme Court of California in support of the University of Southern California in Boermeester v. USC. The case was brought by a Title IX respondent whom USC had investigated and ultimately expelled for engaging in dating violence. Although the respondent admitted to the violence and declined to cross-examine his victim during USC’s investigation, a state appellate court reversed the expulsion, holding that USC was required to provide all respondents in dating violence investigations with live cross-examination of witnesses. The amicus brief explains that over the past few years, California courts have created an inequitable two-track system that requires public and private universities to provide an opportunity for live cross-examination of witnesses only in investigations of gender-based violence and not of other incidents, such as physical violence between friends. This requirement is a form of sex discrimination and rooted in harmful and false stereotypes concerning survivors of gender-based violence, particularly women and girls. The brief also cites empirical research, survivor testimony, and alternative investigation models to explain that live cross-examination is both retraumatizing to survivors (at times, more traumatizing than the underlying assault) and unnecessary to determining truth and credibility in school disciplinary proceedings.

Published On: July 9, 2021
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