Attorney: UAlbany Disregards Rights of Students Accused in Bus Attack

Frederick Brewington's four-page statement on behalf of Asha Burwell has nothing to do with the bus attack she's accused of participating in. He says UAlbany is disregarding her rights.

In a statement he released Monday, Brewington says the college "seeks a pound of flesh" and says they're about to "perform an academic lynching." It all comes down to the timing of the student conduct hearing.

According to Paul DerOhannesian, defense attorneys face this problem a lot.

"The dilemma is you may want your client to testify at the hearings being conducted by the university," he said, "but in doing so, you expose that person to perhaps making a statement that could be used against him or her in the criminal case."

Burwell and two other students allegedly involved in an attack on a CDTA bus in January face criminal assault charges and violations of the student code of conduct. According to Burwell's attorney, the university hearing will take place Wednesday morning.

He says the timing has "effectively barred these accused students of the ability to come to a hearing and defend the charges."

"I have seen it done in cases I've been involved with where that testimony is used by one party against another in the criminal case, so the concern is a very real one," DerOhannesian said.

In response to this statement, a UAlbany spokesman said, "The university's student conduct process is an administrative process, not a criminal, judicial, or civil process. It is separate and a part from criminal proceedings."

That's exactly why DerOhanessian says defense attorneys like him can find it unfair. 

"The reality is they have so few rights in one of these hearings and the university has tremendous power, and it's very difficult to challenge," he said.

According to Burwell's attorney, the student conduct hearing is Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. The organization Capital Area Against Mass Incarceration has planned a protest at Liberty Terrace for the same time.

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