West Point Standard Misconduct Hearing

West Point Standard Misconduct Hearing

March 24, 2022

West Point Standard Misconduct Hearing.

A West Point Standard Misconduct Hearing, formerly known as an Informal Misconduct Hearing, is governed by USMA Regulation 1-10 (not available to the public). This regulation was recently updated in December 2023.

A standard misconduct hearing is convened before a Cadet can receive certain punishment for the following suspected violations (including attempted violations):

  • Drugs and Narcotics (as defined by AR 150-1, paragraph 6-8)
  • Alcoholic Beverages (as defined by AR 150-1, paragraph 6-9)
  • Sexual Misconduct committed at USMA or elsewhere (defined by AR 150-1, paragraph 6-10(b)-(c)) under circumstances where such conduct is prejudicial to the good order and discipline of the Corps of Cadets or was of a nature to bring described upon the armed forces
  • Conduct Unbecoming a Cadet of the Regular Army (as defined by AR 150-1, paragraph 6-11)
  • Conspiracy among Cadets (as defined by AR 150-1, paragraph 6-12)
  • Indebtedness (as defined by AR 150-1, paragraph 6-13)
  • Criminal Conviction (as defined by AR 150-1, paragraph 6-14)
  • Hazing (as defined by AR 150-1, paragraph 6-15)
  • Other Misconduct Offenses (as defined by AR 150-1, paragraph 6-16)
  • Lack of Qualification for Service (as defined by AR 150-1, paragraph 7-7)
  • Alcohol or other Drug Abuse Rehabilitation Failure (as defined by AR 150-1, paragraph 7-10)

A standard misconduct hearing is conducted by a single Investigating Officer. Typically, this investigator is a Field Grade Officer (MAJ or above).   Essentially, the investigating officer is charged with making findings of fact and making recommendations to the Superintendent on what should be done to the Cadet. Typically, no prosecutor is present during the hearing. Unfortunately, Cadets have to represent themselves at the hearing; however, a lawyer can assist during all phases of a West Point Standard Misconduct Hearing.  For example, a lawyer can assist with witness questions, arguments, and general hearing preparation (i.e. what evidence to present, how testify).

The following sequence of events should be expected:

  • Notification of allegations, Government evidence, and Government witnesses (pre-board)
  • Defense Investigation, Motions, and Preparation (pre-board)
  • Questioning of Investigating Officer to ensure impartiality
  • Opening Statement
  • Presentation of Government Witnesses and Evidence
  • Presentation of Defense Witnesses and Evidence
  • Closing Statement
  • Investigating Officer Deliberations
  • Investigating Officer Announcement of Findings and Recommendations

If the investigating officer makes an adverse finding, he/she will also make a recommendation on what action should be taken against the Cadet in question. The following recommendations can be made:

  1. Admonition
  2. Reprimand
  3. Restriction to limits
  4. Deprivation of privileges
  5. Reduction in or withdrawal of cadet officer or non commissioned officer rank
  6. Demerits
  7. Punishment tours
  8. Fatigue tours
  9. Loss of leave
  10. Forfeiture of pay
  11. Delayed graduation (by less than a full year)
  12. Turn-back to the next lower class
  13. Suspension from the Military Academy
  14. Separation from USMA
  15. Invite select cadets pending separation to participate in the Academy Mentorship Program (AMP)

The Board's findings and recommendations are reviewed by a legal advisor before being served on the Cadet for a rebuttal.  The entire packet is then routed through the Cadet's chain of command, and then to the Commandant.  After the Commandant makes a recommendation, the packet is routed to the Superintendent who then makes a final recommendation and either closes the case, or forwards to the Secretary of the Army (for separation decisions).  Of note, if there are adverse findings, the Superintendent is not bound by the misconduct board's recommendations.

A West Point Standard Misconduct Hearing is an informal hearing which can have serious consequences, such as separation and repayment of federal funds (recoupment).  Unfortunately, any Cadet facing a standard misconduct hearing is forced to represent him/herself.  As discussed above, a Cadet benefits if he/she retains a lawyer to help prepare and present their case. Cadets can retain Civilian Counsel to assist.

This Article was written by Attorney Matthew Barry, a 2008 West Point Graduate.

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