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Can administrative outcomes be appealed to federal court?

Although federal appeals usually involve a lower court’s judgment, there are also administrative proceedings that can be appealed to a federal court. In a recent example involving sexual discrimination claims under Title IX against several University of Tennessee athletes, several victims are appealing the outcomes they received from the university’s administrative process. 

The lawsuit, filed in federal court, challenges the university’s administrative hearings. According to the alleged victims, the process they received favored the defendants. The victims claim they were denied the same procedural and process rights afforded the athletes who had been accused of rape and/or sexual assault.

As a law firm that focuses on criminal defense and state and federal appeals, we understand the significance of procedural and substantive due process. In fact, our website profiles several cases where new trials were ordered on appeal due to evidentiary errors.

An appellate court might determine that the cumulative effect of many different types of procedural errors warrants a new trial. For example, improperly admitting out-of-court statements, or hearsay, for the truth of their contents could be grounds for a new trial, as in State of Tennessee vs. Heng Lac Liu. Excluding evidence of a witness or victim’s bias may also be error. Improper instructions given to a jury could also be deemed significant and warrant a reversal or new trial. In short, there are many opportunities for error in a trial, and an experienced criminal appeals attorney can review the record and determine if a strong appeal may be available.

Source: CNN, “Tennessee coach denies saying football player betrayed teammates,” Steve Almasy and Ray Sanchez, Feb. 25, 2016

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