Every law school has some form of honor code that is intended to preserve the integrity of the academic process. At Arizona State University Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, the environment is no different. They hope to provide students with an educational atmosphere that mimics the ethics and professional responsibility that the American Bar Association implores all attorneys to uphold in the United States. After working so hard to finish your undergraduate career and get into law school, it can feel not only confusing but terrifying to be accused of any type of academic misconduct.
Academic Integrity Code
At ASU, the Student Code of Conduct prohibits many actions, including academic misconduct. Academic misconduct is defined as a “purposeful, knowing, or reckless act or omission concerning the educational programs of, requirements for admission to, and graduation from the College of Law, as well as false statements or representations regarding qualifications or recognitions.”
The Academic Integrity Code prohibits students from:
- Giving or taking assistance on an exam, paper, or other coursework that the professor has not authorized.
- Violating exam rules – using notes, outlines, books, or other resources without express permission from the professor.
- Plagiarism – representing the words or ideas of another as if they were your own. This includes quoting or paraphrasing another's writing without acknowledging it was their work. It doesn't matter if you didn't know you were plagiarizing either.
- Submitting the same work for credit more than once without permission from the instructor.
- Giving false or deceptive information to faculty, staff, or the administration.
- Including false or misleading information or leaving relevant information out from a cover letter or resume.
- Knowingly, falsely accusing another student of violating the AIC.
Academic Misconduct Disciplinary Procedures
The disciplinary process for any academic misconduct will start at the dean's office. A student or faculty member will report a student to a person the dean has designated. The complaint must be sufficiently detailed to be a real complaint. The designee will determine if an investigation is warranted. If it is, they will notify the student that a complaint has been submitted and inform them of their right to an advisor to advocate on their behalf.
After notifying the student, the designee will begin their investigation into the matter and determine an appropriate sanction for the accused student. The designee must use the preponderance of the evidence standard when determining whether any academic misconduct occurred. The designee is supposed to consider past violations, the severity of this violation, the accused student's intention to violate the code, and whether the accused has accepted responsibility for the violation and shown regret when considering the appropriate sanctions.
The dean's designee then sends the report of his or her findings to the accused student. The accused student has five business days to respond and propose edits to the report. If the designee thinks these changes are appropriate, he or she will make them. After, they will forward the report to the dean, who will decide on the matter within twenty business days.
If the dean decides that academic misconduct occurred, the designee will notify the student and advise them of their options – which include accepting the dean's determination or appealing it within ten business days.
Now, if the student accepts the dean's decision, the sanctions will be imposed. But if the student chooses to appeal the decision, the designee will send a copy of the written complaint, report, the dean's decision, and the appeal to the Chair of the Academic Integrity Board. At that point, the AIC Board will conduct a hearing.
The Chair will schedule a pre-hearing meeting within 14 days of receiving the appeal and provide notice of the hearing to all parties involved. The purpose of the hearing is to come up with a recommendation for the dean – was the AIC violated, and if so, what sanctions should the accused student face. Both sides have the same rights – that is, whatever the designee is allowed to bring (evidence, witnesses, etc.), the accused student is also.
At the end of the hearing, the Board will meet to review the evidence presented. A simple majority will rule. Within five days, the Board will notify the dean and the accused student of their decision, after which the dean will have time to render their final written decision to affirm, deny, or accept the Board's decision. The dean's decision is final unless the sanctions imposed include suspension or expulsion. If they do, the student can appeal the decision to the Provost's Office within ten business days.
Academic integrity violations can have long-lasting and complicated consequences. It is important to fight them until you have no other options left to pursue.
How an Attorney-Advisor Can Help
Just being accused of violating the honor code in law school can have disastrous effects on the remainder of your time in law school and on your career in the future. If your law school finds that you committed academic misconduct of any kind and the appeals process doesn't go your way, you may have to reconsider your dreams. Working with an attorney-advisor can prevent these long-term consequences from changing the future you have been envisioning for yourself. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and Lento Law Firm have unparalleled experience helping hundreds of law students across the country deal with academic misconduct allegations. They work tirelessly to gather and review any relevant evidence and strategize for the best possible outcome. Call 888-535-3686 today to schedule a consultation.