Due Process

PURPOSE

If an individual is suspected of wrongdoing within a Heart of America regional volleyball context where a sanction or penalty may be necessary, due process involves the right of the individual to present his/her side of the story, to receive fair consideration and to have the opportunity to have the decision of the Heart of America Region (the “Region”) reconsidered by a higher authority. The Region’s due process guidelines were developed to:

1. Ensure that Region members are treated fairly;
2. Render consistent treatment of members within the Region;
3. Increase the probability that Region decisions will be upheld on appeal within USA Volleyball; and
4. Form a foundation of comprehensive factual information that would be necessary in the event of any legal action.

GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE PROCESS

Region members have an obligation to be familiar with the rules, guidelines and ethics codes of the Region and USA Volleyball. Neither lack of awareness, nor misunderstanding of a rule or standard is a defense to a charge of wrongdoing. When a member is uncertain whether a particular situation or course of action would violate policy or ethics, he or she must consult with knowledgeable authorities.

When a member believes that there may have been a violation of policy or ethics by another member, he or she should attempt to resolve the issue by bringing it to the attention of the other member if an informal resolution appears appropriate and when intervention does not violate any member rights.

If you feel a violation is not appropriate for informal resolution or if informal resolution did not resolve the violation properly, you may file an official grievance. The steps for this process are:

1. Contact the Heart of America Region Office (the “Region Office”) or the Heart of America Region Commissioner (the “Commissioner”).
2.  Submit a written complaint summarizing the violation to the Region Office, which complaint should include the following information:
a.  Your name, phone number and email address;
b.  Identity of the club and club representative or member in violation;
c.  Description of the violation; and
d. Contact information for any witnesses to the violation and any supporting documentation from witnesses, if available.

Members of the Region must cooperate in investigations, proceedings and resulting sanctions and other requirements. Failure to cooperate is itself an ethics violation.

Members of the Region should not file complaints that are frivolous and are intended to harm the respondent rather than to protect the public.

DUE PROCESS GUIDELINES

The President, Commissioner and Vice-Commissioner of the Region are charged with the primary responsibility of judicial consideration relating to:

1. Violations of the USAV Participant Code of Conduct set forth on the Region Individual Membership Form;
2. All club, team and individual eligibility matters; and
3. Any other matter of ethics pertaining to participation in Region events or activities.

PROCESS OF ADJUDICATION

I. VIOLATIONS

All violations, general and specific, committed by registered members will be categorized according to the following schedule:

A. Category I Violations
Minor incidents for which an automatic penalty, fine or sanction may be imposed under applicable Region policies. Examples include, but are not limited to, failure to complete officiating duties at a tournament, failure to have certified officials by specified dates, and failure to wear proper uniforms at a tournament.

B. Category II Violations
Incidents involving misconduct. Examples include, but are not limited to, improper recruiting (undue pressure, false promises, post-commitment recruiting, undermining another club, team or coach), eligibility and/or registration violations, or failure to fulfill the terms of a previous sanction.

C. Category III Violations
Incidents involving serious misconduct, which may, or may not, require immediate action, before and without hearing. Examples include, but are not limited to, possession and/or use of alcohol by a junior member, intentional damage to property (including facilities, equipment and/or vehicles), or theft of property.

D. Category IV Violations
Incidents involving behavior which jeopardizes the safety of any individual, requiring immediate action, before and without hearing. Examples include, but are not limited to, sexual misconduct or other inappropriate conduct with a junior, violence or threatening behavior, or actions which seriously undermine or threaten a player (including oneself), club, team, coach, official or the Region.

II. DISCIPLINARY ACTIONS

Individuals, groups of individuals or organizations, which commit a violation are subject to one or more of the following disciplinary actions, consistent with the USA Volleyball Participant Code of Conduct:
1. Financial penalty – assessment of a specific monetary penalty.
2. Denial of sanctioning of activities
3. Probation – a warning that further violation of the rules may result in suspension.
4. Suspension – removal of eligibility for participation in some or all sanctioned events and activities for a period not to exceed 12
months.
5. Expulsion – removal of eligibility for participation in some or all sanctioned events and activities for a period of more than 12 months.

III. RECEIPT OF A COMPLAINT

Any club, team or individual which is a member of the Region or which is eligible for membership in the Region may seek a redress of any volleyball-related grievance that directly affects it, him or her, by filing a written complaint as defined in the Grievance Procedure Process. In cases of serious misconduct (Category III) or when the safety of an individual is at risk (Category IV), notification may initially be given verbally to the Commissioner, a Board member, or an authorized representative of the Region. In addition, the Commissioner, any member of the Region Board and any member of the Region Office staff may submit a complaint on behalf of the Region.

IV. SANCTION AND CONTEST PROCESS

Upon receipt of notice of an alleged incident, the President or his/her designee shall investigate and collect as much information as necessary to make the objective and fair determination as to whether a penalty or sanction is appropriate. The individual or team sanctioned will have due process rights as further set forth supra. The due process procedure will grant the individual or team sanctioned (“Claimant”) the right to present their version of events, to have the sanction or penalty be reconsidered by two separate governing authorities with a final appeal of “Inadequate Due Process” to the governing body of USA Volleyball.

A. Notice: After proposition of a penalty or sanction, the Region Office will notify the Claimant in writing via email and copied via certified mail within ten (10) days. Oral notice will not suffice. Written notice of the proposed penalty or sanction will include the following:
1. Summary of the incident as reported to the Region;
2. Description of the proposed penalty or sanction as proposed by the Region;
3. Notice of the Claimant’s right to appeal and the form, both substantially and with mandatory dates, by which the appeal shall be delivered to the Region.

B. Right to Contest: If the Claimant wishes to contest the proposed penalty or sanction, written notice shall be provided to the Region within ten (10) days of Claimant’s receipt of the original proposed penalty or sanction on Claimant’s desire for a hearing on the matter before the Commissioner (or Vice-Commissioner in the event of a conflict of interest with the Commissioner). This notice must contain the original sanction or penalty and a list of any and all exhibits and/or witnesses that shall be used on Claimant’s behalf in Claimant’s appeal. Failure to include any and all of the required information will render the reconsideration packet incomplete. Incomplete packets will not be heard or reconsidered by the Commissioner. The Commissioner has the power to reconsider and affirm, modify, or vacate the proposed penalty or sanction based on the information contained in the Claimant’s written appeal or the hearing. The Commissioner’s decision shall be sent to the Claimant within ten (10) days via email and copied via certified mail, return receipt requested. Failure to notify the region within the prescribed time will render the original proposed penalty or sanction final.

C. Reconsideration: If the Claimant wishes to appeal the decision of the Commissioner, written notice shall be provided to HOA within ten (10) days of their receipt of the Commissioner’s decision on Claimant’s desire for a hearing on the matter before the Appeal Panel. This notice must contain the original sanction or penalty, the President’s and the Commissioner’s decisions and a list of any and all exhibits and/or witnesses that shall be used on Claimant’s behalf in Claimant’s review hearing. Failure to include any and all of the required information will render the reconsideration packet incomplete. Incomplete packets will not be heard or reconsidered by the Appeal Panel.

1.  Appeal panels are established by the Heart of America Region’s Board of Directors and will be comprised of the Vice-Commissioner (chair of the appeal panel), a board member appointed by the Commissioner and a board member requested by the Claimant. If one or more of these members are not able to sit, both the Vice-Commissioner and the Claimant can select another board member so on and so forth until the panel is complete. Each panel may hear up to three (3) reconsiderations in a session.

2. The panel will call a hearing and conduct the hearing in person unless requested or agreed by the Claimant to conduct the hearing via teleconference.

3. The person who originally imposed the sanction shall present evidence on behalf of the Region.

4. The Claimant shall have the opportunity to respond with full evidentiary procedure, presentation of evidence and the ability to cross-examine anyone called by the panel to present the supporting evidence concerning the sanction or penalty.

5. The hearing shall be the conducted with the authority of the panel, under the direction of the Vice-Commissionerand the hearing shall be recorded by audio by the Region or an individual at the direction of the Region, which shall be retained in the records of the Region. An audio copy of the recording will be provided upon written request.

D. The Appeal Panel will have twenty four (24) hours to reach a decision on the reconsideration. This decision shall be delivered to the Claimant via email and a copy via certified mail, return receipt requested, within five (5) days after the decision was reached by the review panel. The decision of the Appeal Panel is the final action that will be taken on behalf of the Region.

E. Further Appeal for Inadequate Due Process: Upon determination at any level that adequate due process was not accorded at a lower level in which disciplinary action was taken or recommended, the action or recommendation shall be suspended until or unless adequate due process has been provided either by remand or at the current level of review; provided, however, that if there is any risk of physical harm or significant financial loss, the disciplinary action shall remain in effect until or unless the subsequent due process results in a determination that the disciplinary action should end or be modified. Until or unless there is a finding of inadequate due process, a disciplinary action or recommendation shall remain in effect. Appeal on the basis of Inadequate Due Process will be made to USA Volleyball.

V. LEGAL REPRESENTATION

If Claimant desires to have legal representation present at any hearing, written notice of such has to be submitted to the HOA office at least five (5) days before a scheduled hearing. In such case, HOA has the right to reschedule the hearing to accommodate for HOA legal council to be present at such hearing.  Any desires of claimant to meet with HOA officers or board members in the presence of claimant’s legal council requires written notice of at least five (5) days. HOA officers or board members have no obligation to discuss any sanctions with claimant or legal council outside any scheduled hearings. HOA maintains at all times the right to not discuss matters with any legal council of Claimant, without HOA legal council present.