Case #684 - Appeal

Case 684 - Finding
Case 684 - Sanction

DATE: June 3, 2014
PARTIES: University of Toronto v C.A.M.

Hearing Date(s): December 3, 2013
Panel Members:
Patricia Jackson, Chair
Elizabeth Peter, Faculty Member
Beth Martin, Student Member
Michael Dick, Student Member
Appearances:
David Cousins, for the Appellant
Robert Centa, Assistant Discipline Counsel
In Attendance:
The Student
Appeal Division s. B.i.1(a) of the Code – forged documents – submitted another student’s test as Student’s own – second offense – appeal on sanction, not finding – what Dean would have imposed is relevant for sanctioning purposes – “systems error” evidence raised by student not an aggravating factor for the Student as students must be free to bring evidence without fear they will be cast as aggravating factors – fresh evidence on appeal APPEAL ALLOWED – grade assignment of zero in the course; five-year suspension; permanent notation on transcript; report to Provost for publication
Majority - Student convicted with one offence under s. B.i.1(a) and the Panel imposed a final grade of zero in the course, a recommendation that the Student be expelled from the University, a suspension of five years or until the Governing Council makes a decision on expulsion, whichever comes first, and ordered that the case be reported to the Provost for publication. The Student appeals the sentence imposed and asserts it was excessively harsh having regard to a number of personal factors, but did not appeal the conviction.
The conviction relates to the Student’s second offense where the Student attempted to receive credit from a test written by another student. The Student admitted to the offence at the Dean’s meeting but withdrew his admission when he was informed about the sanction. The Student was partially represented by counsel at the liability hearing. Ultimately, the original panel did not believe the Student’s evidence and found him guilty. At the hearing on sanction the Student was no longer represented by counsel. The University agued it was an aggravating factor for the Student to suggest in defense that there was a “system error” but the Panel disagreed and stated that one must be able to bring forward evidence without fear of reprisals.
On this appeal the Student sought to bring fresh evidence relating to academic, work, and of a personal and familial nature. The Panel considered s. E.8 of the Code, the Main case and the test for admitting fresh evidence on an appeal. The test includes if the evidence was available, relevant, and credible, was there a reasonable explanation for the failure to adduce it, and could the evidence have reasonably been expected to have affected the initial decision. The Panel allowed the evidence to be brought but disqualified all of the evidence because it was irrelevant and would not have affected the decision below.
The Majority affirmed its jurisdiction to alter panel decisions under s. E.4 of the Code. The Majority cited cases to modify a decision where there is an error of law or fact and when the sanction is inconsistent with other decisions. The Majority considered the factors in the Mr. C case and stated that the two substantial factors in this case were the seriousness of the offense and detriment to the University, both of which the Dean believed would have been addressed with a mark of zero. The issue then was whether the remaining factors warranted an escalation to expulsion. The Majority concluded that the Student’s conduct warranted an escalated penalty but that it did not warrant expulsion. The Majority allowed the appeal and imposed a final grade of zero in the course, a suspension of five years from the date from the order, a permanent notation on the Student’s transcript, and ordered that the case be reported to the Provost for publication.
Dissent – Elizabeth Peter
The Dissent disagreed with the weight given to the decanal and tribunal penalties and stated that little weight should be given to decanal decisions. Further, the Dissent felt that the Student’s evidence was not an issue as all members of the Tribunal and Appeals Board believed it to be false. The Student’s character was determined to be dishonest by the Tribunal and issues of credibility should attract deference. Taking into account the factors in the Mr. C case, the Student showed no remorse, committed a planned and deliberate offense and provided no extenuating circumstances to warrant a more lenient sanction. The Dissent would dismiss the appeal.