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Berman v. Regents of University of California

California Court of Appeals, Fourth District, First Division

September 19, 2014

DANIEL BERMAN, Plaintiff and Appellant,
v.
THE REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, Defendant and Respondent.

APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of San Diego County, No. 37-2013-00053065 CU-WM-CTL John S. Meyer, Judge.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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COUNSEL

Horvitz & Levy, Barry R. Levy, John F. Querio, Jeremy B. Rosen; Law Offices of David S. Bristol and David S. Bristol, for Plaintiff and Appellant.

Donald P. Margolis; Charles F. Robinson, Karen J. Petrulakis, Margaret L. Wu, Elisabeth Yap; Daniel W. Park; Paul, Plevin, Sullivan & Connaughton, Matthew J. Schenck and Angela T. Mullins, for Defendant and Respondent.

OPINION

McCONNELL, P. J.

INTRODUCTION

Daniel Berman appeals the judgment denying his petition for writ of mandate against the Regents of the University of California (Regents). He seeks to overturn a two-quarter suspension from the University of California San Diego (UCSD), which was imposed on him for hitting another student in the head with sufficient force to knock the other student to the ground and to cause him to lose consciousness, sustain a concussion and require medical attention. Berman does not challenge the factual finding he violated UCSD's student conduct code (the Code).[1] His sole contention on appeal is the Code did not authorize either the student conduct officer responsible for his case, who is also a dean of student affairs, or the council of deans of student affairs (Council of Deans) to impose suspension as a sanction when the student conduct review board did not recommend suspension. We disagree and affirm.

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FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

The Incident

During an altercation on the night of February 22, 2013, involving a group of UCSD students, Berman admits he hit another student in the head with his fist causing the other student to fall to the ground and lose consciousness. The other student sustained injuries, including a concussion, and required medical treatment.[2]

UCSD Student Conduct Proceedings

The UCSD Office of Student Conduct notified Berman in writing of its receipt of a report alleging Berman violated the Code by engaging "in physical acts of violence with another UCSD student while possib[ly] under the influence of alcohol." It is a violation of the Code and UCSD's community standards to engage in physical abuse including "physical assault, battery, or conduct that threatens the health or safety of any person." It is also a violation to engage in disorderly conduct.

The letter alleged multiple witnesses saw Berman "hit a member of the UCSD soccer team while outside a social event" and "the individual was taken to the hospital for the injuries that were sustained." Berman was offered the opportunity to meet with the dean of student affairs, Patricia Mahaffey, Ed.D., to discuss an administrative resolution.

Enclosed with the notification were electronic copies of the Code and a copy of a document entitled "Frequently Asked Questions About The Student Conduct Process." This document explains the administrative resolution meeting, possible sanctions and the right to request a student conduct review if the student does not accept responsibility for the alleged Code violations.

In a student conduct review, a student has the opportunity to present information and witnesses regarding the case to a conduct board (board) consisting of students, faculty, and staff. After the review, the board determines whether or not the student is responsible for alleged Code ...


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