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The Committee on Rights and Responsibilities made its television debut this week but the scheduled three-hour show turned into a telethon that will continue today at 9 a.m.
The CRR heard testimony in the case of Ellen J Messing 2.4, who is charged by the Administration with belinging to "a group of people that broke into and physically occupied the Government departmental offices in Littauer Center May 10.
Glen W. Bowersock '57, professor of Greek and Latin and CRR chairman, granted a continuance since the defense had been unable to call all its witnesses before the alloted television time expired.
About 50 people viewed the closed circuit telecast in Pierce Hall, but today's early morning time slot could damage the ratings for Part II of the Messing trial.
James Q. Wilson chairman of the Government department, brought the charges against Messing last Spring. She was convicted in absentia, but the CRR granted a de novo trial -- completely new and without prejudice -- when it learned that she had not received the hearing notification.
Richard B. Stewart, assistant professor of Law and the Administration's spokesman, could not substantiate Wilson's charge that Messing was present the demonstrators broke into his locked office.
Bowersock had to continually reminded Stewart throughout the hearing that under the procedures established by the Resolution on Rights and Responsibilities, the "burden of proof lies with the complainant."
Stewart grudgingly retracted Wilson's first charge, although he maintained that she was "guilty by inference." The CRR members -- except for Bowersock -- did not seem happy that Stewart could produce no evidence that Messing broke into the office, and asked to hear more testimony on a charge that -- in effect -- had been dropped.
The Messing trial makes it crystal-clear that the CRR only pass lip service to legal procedure. The Administration capitalized on the quasi-legal nature of the CRR, using an assistant professor of Law to prosecute its case.
Stewart continually questioned the witnesses in a way that would have brought most defense attorneys leaping out of their seats, but brought only an occasional objection from William Paul. McKay Professor of Applied Physics and Messing's adviser."
Next month, the Faculty will undertake a review of the CRR and its effectiveness as a disciplinary body. Virtually everyone is unhappy with the CRR -- some think that the CRR is harsh and repressive while other criticize the leniency of past CRR decisions.
Whether the Faculty decides to restructure or abolish the CRR, the CRR should at least be taught how to conduct a hearing. At one point. Messing wanted to ask for a ruling, but "didn't know the procedure." Bowersock replied "that's all right. We don't either. We're all new at this game.
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