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Reid v. James Madison University

CASE: Alyssa Reid v. James Madison University, et al.

STATUS: Active

NCLA ROLE: Counsel

COURTS HEARD IN: W.D. Va., 4th Cir.

ORIGINAL COURT: U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia

DECIDING COURT: U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

OPENED: May 3, 2021

AGENCIES: James Madison University


Due Process Violations

The due process of law guarantees a right to be held to account only through the processes of an impartial court—something administrative tribunals violate every day.

Guidance Abuse

Agency guidance is easier to promulgate than formal rules and regulations, so agencies prefer to issue it. Such “guidance” supplies relatively informal indications of how an agency interprets rules and statutes. Although guidance is not permitted to bind Americans (unlike laws made by elected legislators), agencies treat guidance as binding and courts often fail to stop them.

Ms. Reid was a renowned debater employed by JMU as a full-time faculty member and Assistant Director of the “Individual Events Team” to assist with coaching, tournament travel, and community outreach. She was on track for her dream job as the team’s head coach.

In December 2018, Ms. Reid’s ex-girlfriend, another coach at JMU, lodged an unfounded and ambiguous “Title IX Statement” against her with JMU. That “Statement” did not conform to JMU’s written policies for intaking, investigating, and responding to Title IX complaints. Because of the document’s obvious deficiencies, JMU’s Title IX Director defined the nature of the accusations against Ms. Reid herself, creating claims of a non-consensual relationship out of whole cloth. JMU then pursued an unconstitutional process based on the wrong policies, depriving Ms. Reid of notice and due process rights. It compounded the due process problems by failing to provide Ms. Reid with accurate information about the accusations against her,  punishing her prior to the hearing, not requiring her accuser to attend in person, prohibiting Ms. Reid from cross-examining or otherwise confronting her accuser, and violating her constitutional right to a fair hearing. 

JMU structured its Title IX hearings based on ED’s guidance, often called the “2011 Dear Colleague Letter,” which was designed to enhance the likelihood that anyone accused of sexual harassment or misconduct would face discipline—regardless of guilt or innocence. As a result, Ms. Reid never had a full and fair opportunity to challenge the validity of the charges against her, with the JMU defendants applying standards that flouted due process and were not in place during the relationship. 

Despite withdrawing its offending and infamous “Dear Colleague Letter,” the Department of Education has simultaneously sought to avoid responsibility for the harms its unlawful prior guidance has caused under these “kangaroo courts.” 

Alyssa Reid, Plaintiff

John J. Vecchione
Senior Litigation Counsel

Plaintiff’s Response to Defendants’ Renewed Motion to Dismiss

April 4, 2024 | Read More

Ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

January 9, 2024 | Read More

Appellant’s Reply Brief

October 25, 2022 | Read More

Response Brief of Appellees

September 19, 2022 | Read More

Appellant’s Opening Brief

July 19, 2022 | Read More


NCLA Appeals Title IX Lawsuit Against James Madison University to Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals

July 19, 2022 | Read More

Watch: NCLA Sues James Madison Univ. and U.S. Dept. of Ed. over Weaponized Title IX Investigation

May 3, 2021 | Read More


2 Women Dated For Years. After It Ended, JMU Said Their Relationship Was Nonconsensual.

February 6, 2023

Make University Administrators Pay and Watch Things Change

February 6, 2023

Strong Due Process Protections Are Essential for the Protection of Vulnerable Campus Groups

February 6, 2023

Female survivor/LGBTQ advocate sues James Madison University for due process, Title IX violations, Title IX For All

February 6, 2023




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