February 20, 2009
The Iowa Supreme Court affirmed a judgment in a case brought by the Phi Delta Theta fraternity against the University of Iowa and its Dean of Students. The fraternity had been charged with hazing and alcohol violations. A former pledge was a summer resident at the frat house and installed a recording device in a basement meeting room that was off-limits to non-members. He secretly recorded what in my (long passed) day was known as a "hell session." He provided the tape to the dean and it was used in proceedings brought by the school against the fraternity. The frat eventually agreed to having violated alcohol policies and the hazing charges were dropped.
The frat sued the State, the school and the dean. The court here finds that the frat has standing to sue and had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the basement. The use of the recording in the proceedings brought by the school violated Iowa law and provided a basis for civil liability. However, the award of punitive damages and attorney fees was vacated.
At some point the frat had been placed on "province" probation. The court does not distinguish this sanction from "double secret" probation. (Mike Frisch)
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