Witness not found, case dismissed

ILLINOIS — Cynthia Hanifin’s fight for her First Amendment rights is on hold until her attorney locates a witness in the case against her former high school principal.In 1993, when Hanifin was a senior at Chicago’s Hubbard High School, Principal Charles Vietzen suspended her after she published in the student newspaper an editorial criticizing the school1s prohibition on wearing shorts to class.In May 1997, a Cook County arbitration panel ruled that Vietzen was liable for violating Hanifin1s constitutional rights when he suspended her. The panel awarded her $1,000 dollars in damages, but neither side accepted the decision, according to Hanifin1s attorney, Timothy J. Touhy.As a result, the case proceeded to court, but Hanifin had to have a voluntary dismissal of her case when a key witness was not able to be located.According to Touhy, the case was dependent upon a student who was present at the approval of the article. But when the case was set to appear before a judge, the student, whom they believed to be at Stanford University, could not be found.The judge denied a continuance of the case. However, Hanifin will seek to have the case reinstated when the student is located, said Touhy.Hanifin has said that any money she is awarded through a successful lawsuit will be used to create a scholarship for high school students interested in pursuing a journalism education.