Student Defense – Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law

At Southern Methodist University (SMU) Dedman School of Law, honest and integrity are paramount to a legal education. Because practicing law demands higher ethical standards than the rest of society as a whole, SMU Law School expects law students to conduct themselves accordingly during their time in law school. The Dedman School of Law believes that honest students will make honest attorneys, and so insists the students follow the Student Code of Professional Responsibility.

Students at SMU Law School who do not exhibit the kind of behavior expected of them as future lawyers will face disciplinary action and other consequences. In addition to sanctions imposed by the law school, students may also have difficulties finding a job or obtaining a clerkship if they are guilty of having committed academic or professional misconduct. It may also interfere with a law graduate's ability to pass their state bar association's character and fitness evaluation.

If you are a student at the Dedman School of Law and you've been accused of academic or professional misconduct, consider contacting an experienced student discipline attorney-advisor to help you fight the misconduct allegation.

Student Misconduct at SMU Law School

All students, faculty, and administrators at SMU Law School have obligations under the Student Code of Professional Responsibility. The Code makes the evaluation of each student based on their merits possible, by seeking to eliminate unfairness created by dishonest actions.

In addition to the Dedman School of Law Student Code of Professional Responsibility, law students must also adhere to the SMU Student Code of Conduct.

Examples of Prohibited Conduct at Dedman School of Law

  • Appropriating another's words, ideas, or modes of analysis and representing them as one's own (plagiarism)
  • Interfering with the secured measures for the preparation and storage of exams
  • Taking an exam for another student
  • Referring to any material not authorized by the instructor during an exam
  • Giving, receiving, or obtaining information or help that is not authorized by the instructor on an exam or assignment
  • Discussing any part of an exam with another student who has not yet taken the exam
  • Conversing or communicating during an exam with anyone other than the person administering the exam
  • Submitting to any instructor or Law School organization any written work prepared, submitted, or used for any other purpose
  • Taking or copying the material of another student without their consent
  • Making a false statement to a Law School instructor, administrator, organization, honor council, or investigating committee
  • Refusing to cooperate with the honor council or investigating committee
  • Marking, tearing, mutilating, destroying, hiding, misshelving, or misfiling library material
  • Materially disrupting a class, meeting, or other function of the Law School
  • Making a false allegation of violation of the Code
  • Using computer systems for non-Law School related activities

These examples are nonexclusive and do not represent the only possible violations of the Student Code of Professional Responsibility.

How SMU Law School Handles Academic Misconduct

SMU Law School has an honor council that deals with allegations of Code violations. The honor council has six members, including three students and three faculty members. There are four phases to the disciplinary process for suspected violations of the Code: Reporting, investigation, hearing, and appeal.

Reporting

Anyone can report a suspected violation of the Student Code of Professional Responsibility to the assistant dean for student affairs. Reports cannot be anonymous, but the accuser's identity will remain confidential.

Investigation

The assistant dean refers the accusation to the honor council, which will vote to either dismiss, postpone, or investigate the case. If the matter moves to an investigation, the assistant dean will appoint two faculty members and one student to an investigating committee. The investigating committee has 30 days to complete their investigation and may question witnesses, examine evidence, or speak with the accused student if they are so willing. The committee will vote on whether to file a complaint and move the case forward.

Hearing

Once the honor council receives the investigating committee's complaint, they will convene a hearing. At the hearing, accused students may have an attorney or legal advisor represent them. One of the members of the investigating committee will act as the school's prosecutor. Both sides may present evidence and question witnesses, as well as make opening and closing statements. The honor council will vote at the end of the hearing and a two-thirds vote is necessary for a finding of guilt and imposition of sanction. For expulsion or revocation of an awarded degree, however, the vote must be unanimous.

Appeal

Students found guilty of violating the Code can appeal the decision to the dean of the law school. The dean may affirm, reverse, remand, or modify the decision of the honor council or dismiss the complaint. Following the dean's decision, the student can ask the University to modify the sanction but not the finding of guilt.

Potential Sanctions

The honor council may impose one or more of the following sanctions:

  • Public or private reprimand
  • Counseling
  • Additional academic work
  • Public or University service
  • Suspension or loss of Law School benefits and privileges
  • Fines
  • Restitution
  • Notation in student's Law School file
  • Probation
  • Suspension
  • Expulsion
  • Recommendation of lowered grade
  • Recommendation for withdrawing a degree
  • Request to the dean for other appropriate action

Can a Student Defense Attorney-Advisor Help?

If you are a student at SMU Law School and you've been accused of misconduct, you may feel overwhelmed by the formal disciplinary procedures. A student discipline legal advisor who has dealt with such processes before can help you prepare your defense, collect evidence, and identify witnesses.

Attorney Joseph D. Lento has assisted hundreds of law students across the country with misconduct matters and can help you protect your future as a lawyer. He helps his clients ensure a fair process and the best possible outcome. Contact Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to learn more.

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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 our offices today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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