The Pomona College Administration is required, per the Student Code, to maintain a “public, permanent precedent file” that includes “case abstracts specifying charges, facts, case dispositions and rationales for dispositions.” Student Code art. II, available at http://catalog.pomona.edu/content.php?catoid=35&navoid=7069. Such a file is meant to provide guidance for students about what the Student Code means as it is applied to specific cases by JBoards or through other judicial processes. Moreover, the file aims to help promote consistency by giving judicial bodies guidance from previous, analogous cases and their dispositions. This is particularly helpful because the JBoard operates under the philosophy that sanctioning should be restorative and educational, and not purely punitive; insights from previous panels can and should inform future sanctioning processes. Finally, the file promotes transparency by allowing members of the College community to gain insight into how judicial hearings operate.
Our process seeks to balance transparency with students’ interests in confidentiality. The Judicial Council adheres to the following guidelines in publishing case dispositions:
All entries in the precedent file shall be the original hearing write-up with redactions. This is to ensure that the precedent file available to the public matches the precedent file stored internally by the College Administration.
All names of people shall be redacted or given a pseudonym. Case names shall be labeled as “Matter of X.Y.Z.,” where the initials are arbitrary and used only for identifying the specific case.
Cases shall be published as soon as possible subject to a two-tiered redaction process.
After an opinion is written, all identifying information (names of people, locations, specific descriptions of events, etc.) shall be redacted.
The Chair who convened the hearing shall find three members of the Judicial Council who were not involved with the case and ask them to read over the redacted opinion. If any of the three members can identify the Respondent(s) or the incident, then the Chair shall redact the opinion further and repeat the process with different members of the Judicial Council until all three chosen members cannot determine the identity of the Respondent(s) or the incident.
The Chair shall then send the redacted opinion to the Respondent(s); the Respondent(s) must agree that all personally identifying information is sufficiently redacted in order for the opinion to be published. The Respondent(s) may only ask that the opinion be further redacted or held back out of concern for confidentiality.
After five years from the date of the hearing, the Pomona College Administration shall release a version of the opinion with only names of persons redacted.
Chairs shall work with panelists and administrators to determine the correct standards for assuring confidentiality. Students should feel free to reach out to any of the chairs to discuss the JBoard’s process for maintaining a confidential but useful precedent file.