Student Defense – Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University

Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University prepares its law students to enter the legal profession, a community endowed with public trust. For lawyers, honest and ethical conduct is not only a professional responsibility but also a legal requirement. Recognizing this concept, Antonin Scalia Law expects all students, faculty, and administration to treat each other with honor and the highest personal integrity.

Antonin Scalia Law School has an Honor Code that sets forth the ethical requirements of students in academic work. The goal of the high ethical standards at the Law School is to protect the equity and integrity of the legal education of all students. When you lie, cheat, or steal, you hamper a positive, fair, and open learning environment that all law students should be entitled to.

With a rigid Honor Code in place and a steadfast commitment to academic integrity, you can be sure that Scalia Law School will take allegations of academic or professional dishonesty seriously. If you have an Honor Code violation on your law school record, it can jeopardize the rest of your academic career as a law student. Such a violation can also prevent you from admission to a state bar association, keeping you from practicing law.

There's a lot at stake when you're accused of academic dishonesty at Scalia Law. It would be wise to defend yourself and to seek help from a legal professional who is well-versed in student defense issues.

Law Student Misconduct at Antonin Scalia Law School

Scalia Law has an Honor Code to guide students toward ethical, moral, and honest behavior during their time in law school. The Code provides the minimum expected standards for student conduct and the responsibilities of individuals as members of the Scalia Law academic community. It also outlines procedures for allegations of violations.

The Honor Code is not solely administered by Law School faculty or administration; students at Scalia Law also play an important role in maintaining high conduct standards. The Honor Committee is a student-only group that helps uphold the standards set by the Honor Code as well as investigate allegations of misconduct.

What Constitutes an Honor Code Violation at Antonin Scalia Law School?

The Scalia Law Honor Code specifically prohibits:

  • Lying, cheating, or stealing
  • Abusing an Honor Proceeding by filing a frivolous referral, breaching confidentiality, withholding relevant information, or refusing to appear as a witness
  • Failure to report an Honor Code violation within 30 days of discovering the violation
  • Being an accomplice or accessory to an act that violates the Honor Code
  • Bringing prohibited materials or devices into any exam

The Honor Code covers all enrolled students at Scalia Law and students who have already graduated. There is no “statute of limitations” on Honor Code violations at Scalia Law. No matter how long ago an incident occurred, a former student can still face an Honor Code violation accusation.

Honor Proceeding at Antonin Scalia Law School

Anyone who wants to bring an allegation of an Honor Code violation against a Scalia Law student must formally notify the Dean. After the Dean receives the allegation, the case will proceed to an initial referral and then either through an Administrative Honor Hearing or an Honor Panel.

Initial Referral to the Dean

Once the Dean receives a referral, they may dismiss it, closing the matter. The Dean also has the option of retaining the referral and resolving the matter with an Administrative Honor Hearing or sending the referral to an Honor Panel.

Throughout the Honor Proceeding, accused students represent themselves. Students may have an outside counsel to consult with, but this person may not participate in any of the Honor Proceeding events.

Administrative Honor Hearing

At an Administrative Hearing, accused students can submit evidence and witness statements but may not bring witnesses to the hearing in person. The Dean will review the accused student's information and the facts of the case and make a determination. If the accused student disagrees with the decision, they can request reconsideration.

Honor Panel

The Honor Panel consists of the Dean, a faculty member, and three members of the student Honor Committee. Before a hearing takes place, the Honor Panel reviews the allegation from the Dean and may either dismiss the Honor Referral or proceed to a hearing. The accused student may present evidence and witness statements at the hearing but may not have witnesses present at the hearing.

After hearing the accused student's evidence and reviewing the facts of the case, the Hearing Panel will make a determination and impose a penalty no later than 14 days after the hearing.

Sanctions for Violating the Honor Code

Sanctions may include, but are not limited to the following actions:

  • Cancellation of matriculation (expulsion)
  • Suspension
  • Probation
  • Reduction of a grade for the assignment or course involved
  • Assigning a failing grade for the assignment or course involved
  • Oral reprimand
  • Revocation of degree
  • Any other sanction deemed appropriate by the Dean, Honor Panel, or tenured faculty
  • Any sanction agreed to by the parties

Any guilty determinations or cases ending with a plea bargain reflecting guilt will appear on a student's transcript and cannot be expunged.

Possibility for Appeal

Students may appeal the results of an Administrative Hearing or Honor Panel hearing by requesting reconsideration within 14 days of the hearing decision. The Dean or tenured faculty member reviewing the request may affirm the decision, remand for a new hearing, or alter the sanction imposed. This decision is final.

Can a Student Defense Attorney-Advisor Help?

Although an external advisor cannot be present with you during Honor Code hearings at Antonin Scalia Law School, they can still help you plan a defense strategy, gather evidence, and collect witness statements. Your attorney-advisor can, for example, also coach you on what to say during your hearings and direct what steps need to be taken during the investigation. Law school disciplinary proceedings are a unique animal, characterized by intense and rigorous proceedings compared to other academic institutions. You do not want to face such proceedings alone because too much is at stake, and the Lento Law Firm can help.

Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm specialize in student defense for law students, as well as undergraduate and graduate students facing academic misconduct allegations at their institutions across the United States. Accused law students who want to protect the future of their legal careers can call Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to discuss their options.

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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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