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Law School Case Brief

Papachristou v. Univ. of Tenn. - 29 S.W.3d 487 (Tenn. Ct. App. 2000)

Rule:

"Substantial and material evidence" has been defined as such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept to support a rational conclusion and such as to furnish a reasonably sound basis for the action under consideration.

Facts:

The appellee was a first year law student at the University of Tennessee College of Law. In December of 1997, the appellee attended his first law school exam. A cover sheet included the instructions for the exam and a brief statement referencing the University's honor code. Before the professor gave the class permission to begin, appellee opened his booklet and began reading the exam. According to appellee, after realizing that other classmates still had their exams closed, he closed his booklet also. When the proctor called time, several students, including appellee, continued to work on their exams. Appellee was the last student to finish his exam, other than a student who had received an extra 15 minutes. After several student complaints, the law school investigated the allegations of student misconduct. The Chancellor of the University found appellee guilty of violating the College of Law Honor Code and ordered the indefinite suspension of the appellee. On appeal to the trial court, it found that the Chancellor’s findings were not supported by substantial and material evidence, and reversed the Chancellor’s order.

Issue:

Were the Chancellor’s findings regarding the honor code supported by substantial and material evidence, therefore, justifying his order of indefinite suspension against the law student?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The Court held that there was substantial and material evidence from which appellant's Chancellor could find that appellee suspended law student had violated the honor code. Furthermore, the Court held that based on the circumstances at hand, it could not conclude that the Chancellor’s actions were arbitrary or capricious or that they constituted an unwarranted exercise of discretion.

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