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New Judicial Court Upholds Due Process:
Court Dismisses Charges

Dublin Core


New Judicial Court Upholds Due Process:
Court Dismisses Charges


Due process of law
Mello, Michael
Student rights


A newspaper article written by Helen McFalls, discussing a decision made by the Mary Washington College Judicial Court to overturn charges brought on Anne Knight regarding a unauthorized dorm room visit by her boyfriend. Defended by Michael Mello, her charges were dismissed due to a failure to advise her of her rights. This case initiated a revision of the system used to appoint residential Judicial chairmen.


McFalls, Helen Marie


McFalls, Helen Marie. "Judicial Court Upholds Due Process: Court Dismisses Charges". The Bullet (VA), April 25, 1978.


HIST 298, University of Mary Washington




The materials in this online collection are held by Special Collections, Simpson Library, University of Mary Washington and are available for educational use. For this purpose only, you may reproduce materials without prior permission on the condition that you provide attribution of the source.


300 dpi






Fredericksburg, VA

Text Item Type Metadata


The Mary Washington College Judicial Court has upheld the “due process Clause of the Student Handbook. In a decision rendered Sunday night, the Court found freshman Anne Knight guilty of a visitation violation but dismissed the charges on grounds that she was not advised of her rights.

Bullet reporters and artists were invited by Ms. Knight to cover the proceedings. This is the first known Judicial trial at MWC to be covered by the press. According to the Student’ Handbook, a defendant has the right to request an open trial.

Ms. Knight was accused of having a male guest in her Mason dorm room on two different occasions in one day without signing him in. Charges were brought by Mason Judicial Representative Gail Warren. Witnesses called by the prosecution were Margaret Corcoran and Yvonne Walbroehl, the defendant’s suitemates, and Ann Hodgson, junior counselor. All claimed to have seen the male, whom Ms. Knight identified as her boyfriend.

The trial began with the judicial representative’s account of the case. In response to the defendant’s claim that her right to due process was violated because she was not informed of their rights, Ms. Warren testified that “I didn’t inform her of her rights.” When questioned by defense counsel Michael Mello, she stated: “I forgot.” The defense cited this procedural error as a basis for dismissing the case. A second error concerned the defendant’s right to privacy. Ms. Warren stated in answer to questions by defense counsels Mello and Gary Webb that one Vanessa Martin, who was not otherwise involved in the case, was present when Ms. Warren told Ms. Knight the date, time, and place off trial. Ms. Warren claimed that the presence of Ms. Martin did not violate the defendant’s right to privacy.

In her statement, Ms. Knight admitted that her boyfriend was indeed present in the room. However, Ms. Knight argued [t]hat Ms. Warren’s procedural errors invalidated any charges. Ms. Knight cited the Student Handbook, the Student Bill of Rights, and the S.A. Constitution as documents guaranteeing the right of “due process.” The defendant stated that the responsibility for following correct procedures lies with the judicial representatives. Ms. Knight challenged the Court by saying, “the judicial system of Mary Washington College is on trial here and the question is simply: is that system willing to abide by its own rules? If not, if officers of that system may trample on the Student Handbook and ignore it provisions, why shouldn’t all students follow its lead?”

Although the accused based her defense on what some termed a “technicality,” she noted that, “What is being overlooked in these attacks on procedural ‘technicalities’ is the realization that, over the long pull of centuries, these requirements have served as gradually accumulating building blocks to form our most effective barrier against arbitrary governmental deprivation of our civil rights.” Thus, she concluded, “. . . but one remedy exists to deter future violations of The Handbook directions by dormitory officers. That remedy is the same one that the federal court system uses in similar circumstances: The nullification of convictions that are obtained in cases in which gross procedural errors occur.”

The court deliberated for approximately 20 minutes. When the court reconvened Chairman Jane Daniels read the verdict: “Unanimously guilty of a visitation violation. However, we are dismissing the charges on the grounds that you were not advised of your rights. This is by no means a reflection on the entire judicial system. It is because of the incompetency of one judicial official. A new system for appointment for residential Judicial chairmen had been established to alleviate this problem.”

Original Format

Newspaper Article

Contributor of the Digital Item

Buterbaugh, Phillip Carl

Student Editor of the Digital Item

Williams, Megan




McFalls, Helen Marie, “New Judicial Court Upholds Due Process:
Court Dismisses Charges,” HIST298, accessed May 16, 2021, https://hist298.umwhistory.org/items/show/69.