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The Connecticut Supreme Court recently concluded a university disciplinary proceeding arising from a sexual assault allegation was not quasi-judicial and therefore did not afford the complainant with absolute immunity for the statements she made during the proceeding.

According to the court’s opinion, “Jane Doe” accused the plaintiff of sexual misconduct in disciplinary proceedings conducted by the Ivy League university they both attended.  The plaintiff was expelled from the University.  He filed suit in federal court against the university, several university employees, and Doe.  His claims against Doe included defamation and tortious interference with business relationships.

The District Court concluded the disciplinary proceeding was quasi-judicial and Doe had absolute immunity for the statements she made during the proceeding under Connecticut law.  It concluded extending immunity to the university’s disciplinary proceedings was warranted under Connecticut’s six-factor test to identify quasi-judicial proceedings and as a matter of public policy.

Necessity may be available as a defense in a Washington criminal case when “physical forces of nature or the pressure of circumstances” cause a defendant to do something illegal to avoid a harm that is greater than the harm resulting from the unlawful act.  A defendant recently challenged her conviction for residential burglary, arguing the jury had wrongly rejected her common law necessity defense.

According to the appeals court’s unpublished opinion, the defendant ran out of gas in an unfamiliar area. She walked to a museum.  The defendant claimed she slipped in snow and injured her back.  She claimed she called out, but no one responded and the museum was closed for the winter. She did not have a phone with her.

Witnesses testified about the bad weather that night.  The defendant claimed it was “super windy” and “freezing.”  There was evidence of six to eight inches of snow on the museum property.  The defendant claimed she was lying in the snow for hours.  She ultimately went to the doublewide manufactured home where the museum caretaker lived.

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In Washington, the Committed Intimate Relationship (“CIR”) doctrine protects the interests of certain unmarried individuals when they end a committed relationship. This doctrine assists in the resolution of property distribution when certain unmarried couples separate.  A CIR occurs when a couple has a marriage-like relationship but know that they are not lawfully married.  Courts consider certain factors to determine if a couple had a CIR, including the relationship’s length, its purpose, continuous cohabitation, pooling of resources and services, and the parties’ intent. Connell v. Francisco. In a recent Washington divorce case, the husband challenged the court’s characterization of certain property as separate by alleging the parties were engaged in a CIR prior to their marriage.

According to the appeals court’s unpublished opinion, the parties started dating in 2006 and moved in together in early 2009.  Each of them moved away for a while during the relationship.

The wife claimed their relationship was “rocky” because of infidelity, but both parties stated they never broke up while they were dating.

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In a Washington child support case, the court may order the payment of post-secondary educational support for a dependent child. The support is conditioned on the child enrolling in an accredited academic or vocational school, pursuing education in line with his or her vocational goals, and remaining in good academic standing.  If these conditions are not met, the support is suspended.  Additionally, the child must make his or her academic records available to both parents.

A mother recently challenged an order for past due post-secondary support, arguing her daughter had not complied with the statutory requirements.  The court had entered a child support order regarding post-secondary support of the parties’ daughter that required the mother to pay 66.3 percent of the child’s post-secondary education support.  To receive the support, the daughter had to meet the requirements of RCW 26.19.090(4), which requires the child to make all grades and academic records available to both parents as a condition of receiving the support.

The father moved for contempt for past due post-secondary support in 2017.  He submitted proof of expenses and enrollment records.  The mother said she called to pay tuition, but the Registrar’s Office informed her they could not give her access to any information due to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). They told her students were told they must grant access for anyone else to have access to their account.

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