Academic Misconduct: University of Missouri School of Law

The Law Department at the University of Missouri was founded in 1872 and, according to its website, has “produced well-rounded lawyers who are sensitive to ethical issues, prepared to serve clients and ready to be leaders in promoting justice for the State of Missouri and the nation.”

The school is particularly proud of its mission to provide affordable, accessible legal education and its challenging, practical curriculum.

Rules of Academic Honesty

Students in the LLM program at the University of Missouri are expected to “strive to develop a sense of professionalism by refraining from any activity that seeks, directly or indirectly, to gain an unfair advantage over any other student.”

The website's Honor Code (Code)page addresses plagiarism in-depth, holding the issue as central to violations of its standards.

LLM Honor Committee

The functions of the LLM Honor Committee (Committee) are holding formal hearings on alleged violations of the Code, making relevant findings of fact, and, in the event a violation is found, imposing appropriate sanctions on the accused.

The Committee consists of two members of the Faculty of Law and two LLM students, all appointed by the Dean as soon as practicable once the academic year commences and will hold their offices until the next academic year. Vacancies, should they arise, will be filled by the Dean. One of the faculty members of the Committee shall be elected by a majority of the Committee members; the Chair will have complete voting rights.

Reporting

Any member of the Committee or the Director of the LLM Program (Director) can receive a report of a violation of the Code. When an allegation of a violation is made, the Director will give the accused student (Accused) an opportunity to present his or her personal perspective of the incident.

The Director and the Accused may agree on an appropriate resolution of the case and agree to use a third party to assist in the resolution of the case—but neither a resolution nor a third party is required—and any resolution must be approved by the majority vote of the Committee.

A resolution could involve sanctions, or it could be a decision not to move forward with the case. If an informal resolution can't be reached, the Committee will go ahead with an investigation.

Investigation

As soon as possible, after a report of a violation, the Chair will appoint one or more members of the Committee (one of whom may be the Chair) as an investigator(s), who will launch an investigation. The investigator(s) will submit to the Chair a written report including:

  • The facts alleging the violation
  • Witness statements
  • Information supporting the allegations
  • Statements, both supportive and mitigative
  • Which provisions of the Code are alleged to be violated

Sufficient Cause Determination

Prior to a Committee meeting to consider the report, the Chair may determine that additional information, including testimony, is needed for the meeting. During the meeting, the Committee will take into consideration all of the information provided and, by majority vote, decide whether a formal hearing is warranted.

Should the Committee deem a formal hearing to be necessary, they will advise the Accused in writing. Any challenges to the hearing must be made in advance of the proceedings.

Formal Hearing

In a formal and confidential hearing before the full Committee, general standards for a fair and impartial hearing will be observed. While the formal rules of evidence will not be a controlling factor, others—including testimony, digital and written materials, and other relevant documents—will be considered.

On the school's behalf, the General Counsel can serve as legal advisor to the Committee (the school).

The Right to Counsel

Most important for the Accused, he or she has the right to have an attorney/advisor at the hearing. The Code specifies: “These persons may perform the usual functions of legal counsel.”

A loss in a disciplinary case can have huge ramifications for a law student. Potential sanctions can include dismissal (either permanent or for a definite period of time), suspension, probation, negative credits, and reprimands.

Most important, it can bar the Accused from the practice of law.

Having a skilled legal advocate can make the difference through the investigation process and in a formal hearing. During the course of the investigation, an attorney-advisor can work towards a fair process, making certain the Accused's rights and interests are recognized. The hearing itself will provide the opportunity for an Accused's attorney-advisor to guide the proceedings and to leverage tactics to serve the Accused's cause; for example, knowing what and when to ask of applicable parties, making objections as necessary, and so forth—a trained professional familiar with the workings of the Committee will know exactly how and when to employ necessary strategies.

An advocate can also help the Accused craft a prepared statement in his or her defense and address all the complex details of the proceedings for the best possible outcome. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team have helped law students across the country successfully fight disciplinary actions and they can help you.

Appeals

Should the Accused be sanctioned, an attorney/advisor can make a vigorous case to the Committee to overturn the decision with a written Notice of Appeal and a subsequent memorandum for consideration by the Chancellor.

National Academic Misconduct Defense

If you are facing disciplinary action by the University of Missouri School of Law, you need an experienced attorney to fight for your future. One phone call could save your legal career. Call attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686.

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If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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