Court rules Notre Dame must allow dismissed student to take final exams

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A senior at the University of Notre Dame will sit for the last two final exams of his undergraduate career this week after a federal judge ruled the university could not prevent him from taking the exams even though he was dismissed from the campus after a disciplinary action.

During the Fall 2016 semester at Notre Dame, a student, referred to as John Doe in the lawsuit, began repeatedly making suicidal comments to fellow student and on-again, off-again girlfriend, referred to as Jane Roe. Roe reported Doe’s behavior to the school’s Division of Student Affairs, specifically complaining about the volume of texts she received and their “manipulative nature,” while also voicing concerns about Doe’s well-being.

School faculty determined that Doe’s behavior could be in violation of campus community standards laid out in the “Red Book,” or student handbook, but ultimately chose to forgo an administrative investigation against him. However, Roe was told she could still request an investigation about Doe through April of 2017.

Communication between the two students resumed, with Roe sending Doe frequent messages asking him to sleep over, meet her in Illinois and expressing her love for him. However, Roe later had a change of heart and decided to move forward with the investigation.

The university issued a no-contact order to both parties, and Doe deleted all of his messages with Roe from his phone. Roe, however, kept the messages and chose only to release the ones that were incriminating against Doe to the school as part of their investigation. The full extent of the messages were not released until Doe filed formal litigation.

Doe launched a counter-complaint against Roe, but the two cases were not consolidated. The school’s Office of Community Standards schedule an administrative hearing for Roe’s complaint, and Doe received a letter advising him that he was possibly in violation of the school’s policies regarding stalking, “willful damage to the reputation or psychological well-being of another,” dating violence, and abusive and harassing behavior.

Doe was allowed to review the administrative investigation documents, but he could only do so in the OCS office and he could not make photocopies of the documents. Additionally, Doe was only given 2 ½ days to review the additional documentation Roe submitted against him.

After the administrative hearing, the hearing panel found that Doe was in violation of all four community standards, with the majority of its decision letter consisting of a series of quotes from the limited text messages Roe sent to the investigator. The panel never considered the all of messages between the two students, including messages in which Roe solicited Doe’s attention, but instead ordered that Doe be dismissed with the option of reapplying to the school in the spring of 2018.

Doe moved for a case review and submitted a video in which Roe can be heard saying her real intentions in the disciplinary proceedings were to “f--- up his reputation.” But the Conduct Case Review Board denied review to Doe’s case, so he was formally dismissed from campus April 13.

Doe moved for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction and sought an order instructing Notre Dame to let him sit for his last two final exams, which are being administered this week. He raised claims of breach of contract and Title IX claims, and Judge Philp P. Simon of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, addressing only the breach of contract claims, granted Doe’s request on Monday.

Specifically, Simon wrote that a jury could conclude the disciplinary process against Doe was arbitrary and capricious in light of a variety of factors, including “the lack of meaningful notice” to (Doe) of the allegations against him, the school’s failure to obtain and review the entire texting history and its limits on the hearing testimony, among other factors.

Further, the judge wrote preventing Doe from taking his final two exams would harm him by forcing him to place a gap in his educational career until he can return to the northern Indiana campus next spring. That gap could hinder Doe’s future career plans because he would have to explain why he left school and would, thus, be forced to disclose the disciplinary proceeding, the judge said.

Finally, Simon determined allowing Doe to take his exams would not unduly burden the university, but taking the opposite approach would place a great burden on Doe’s future. Thus, he ruled the school must allow Doe to sit for the exams for his last two classes, though he allowed the school to maintain Doe’s exclusion from the campus and the withholding of his degree.

A Notre Dame representative declined to comment on Simon’s decision in John Doe v. University of Notre Dame, 3:17-CV-298.



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  1. One can only wonder whether Mr. Kimmel was paid for his work by Mr. Burgh ... or whether that bill fell to the citizens of Indiana, many of whom cannot afford attorneys for important matters. It really doesn't take a judge(s) to know that "pavement" can be considered a deadly weapon. It only takes a brain and some education or thought. I'm glad to see the conviction was upheld although sorry to see that the asphalt could even be considered "an issue".

  2. In response to bryanjbrown: thank you for your comment. I am familiar with Paul Ogden (and applaud his assistance to Shirley Justice) and have read of Gary Welsh's (strange) death (and have visited his blog on many occasions). I am not familiar with you (yet). I lived in Kosciusko county, where the sheriff was just removed after pleading in what seems a very "sweetheart" deal. Unfortunately, something NEEDS to change since the attorneys won't (en masse) stand up for ethics (rather making a show to please the "rules" and apparently the judges). I read that many attorneys are underemployed. Seems wisdom would be to cull the herd and get rid of the rotting apples in practice and on the bench, for everyone's sake as well as justice. I'd like to file an attorney complaint, but I have little faith in anything (other than the most flagrant and obvious) resulting in action. My own belief is that if this was medicine, there'd be maimed and injured all over and the carnage caused by "the profession" would be difficult to hide. One can dream ... meanwhile, back to figuring out to file a pro se "motion to dismiss" as well as another court required paper that Indiana is so fond of providing NO resources for (unlike many other states, who don't automatically assume that citizens involved in the court process are scumbags) so that maybe I can get the family law attorney - whose work left me with no settlement, no possessions and resulted in the death of two pets (etc ad nauseum) - to stop abusing the proceedings supplemental and small claims rules and using it as a vehicle for harassment and apparently, amusement.

  3. Been on social security sense sept 2011 2massive strokes open heart surgery and serious ovarian cancer and a blood clot in my lung all in 14 months. Got a letter in may saying that i didn't qualify and it was in form like i just applied ,called social security she said it don't make sense and you are still geting a check in june and i did ,now i get a check from my part D asking for payment for july because there will be no money for my membership, call my prescription coverage part D and confirmed no check will be there.went to social security they didn't want to answer whats going on just said i should of never been on it .no one knows where this letter came from was California im in virginia and been here sense my strokes and vcu filed for my disability i was in the hospital when they did it .It's like it was a error . My ,mothers social security was being handled in that office in California my sister was dealing with it and it had my social security number because she died last year and this letter came out of the same office and it came at the same time i got the letter for my mother benefits for death and they had the same date of being typed just one was on the mail Saturday and one on Monday. . I think it's a mistake and it should been fixed instead there just getting rid of me .i never got a formal letter saying when i was being tsken off.

  4. Employers should not have racially discriminating mind set. It has huge impact on the society what the big players do or don't do in the industry. Background check is conducted just to verify whether information provided by the prospective employee is correct or not. It doesn't have any direct combination with the rejection of the employees. If there is rejection, there should be something effective and full-proof things on the table that may keep the company or the people associated with it in jeopardy.

  5. Unlike the federal judge who refused to protect me, the Virginia State Bar gave me a hearing. After the hearing, the Virginia State Bar refused to discipline me. VSB said that attacking me with the court ADA coordinator had, " all the grace and charm of a drive-by shooting." One does wonder why the VSB was able to have a hearing and come to that conclusion, but the federal judge in Indiana slammed the door of the courthouse in my face.