Established in 1927, St. Mary's University School of Law is a private Catholic law school part of St. Mary's University in San Antonio, Texas. St. Mary's Law offers the J.D, LL.M., and Master of Jurisprudence degrees. It has three main centers that focus on Terrorism Law, International Legal Studies, and Legal and Social Justice. St Mary's Law library, the Sarita Kenedy East Law Library, is among the largest in San Antonio. St. Mary's Law has among the most robust advocacy programs in the nation and the second-highest Hispanic student population countrywide.
St. Mary's School of Law prides itself on providing a space where diverse students can learn in an atmosphere that fosters meaningful and robust learning experiences. Maintaining principles of academic integrity is high on the list of expectations at the institution, mirroring its Marianist Catholic principles. Those accused of academic misconduct face disciplinary sanctions that may harm their progress and delay graduation.
Academic Misconduct at St. Mary's Law School
Since St. Mary's School of law prides itself on its Catholic values, academic integrity is an essential expectation for students.
In its academic misconduct policy, the school writes that it promotes truth, honesty, personal integrity, and self-responsibility. All students attending St. Mary's University, including law students, must abide by the principles listed in the policy. Actions that constitute academic misconduct fall under the following broad categories:
- Cheating: St. Mary's Law School defines this violation as any action meant to deceive through misrepresentation. Examples include copying from another student's work or allowing them to copy and use unauthorized materials during an exam.
- Plagiarism: When a student plagiarizes, they use another person's words or ideas without crediting the original author. A more unexpected form of plagiarism is when students collaborate on a project in a group, but one claims credit for the effort.
- Fabrication: This is a severe violation involving deliberate distortion or unauthorized use of data. Examples listed include submitting work prepared by others as one's own, not citing information from a documented source, and submitting falsified work to professors.
- General Academic Misconduct: The actions listed under this category include activities that don't fit the above definitions. They involve buying or selling unadministered test questions, bribing others to provide those questions, and forging signatures. A less common but punishable offense included in this category is when a student continues working on an academic exercise beyond the time allotted by a professor.
As per the policy, any form of academic misconduct is a serious offense. Although students have the right to defend themselves, they will most likely do so before the Dean since the Academic Council may not approve a personal hearing request.
Hearing Process and Academic Council
Upon knowledge of a student committing academic misconduct, faculty members must report the incident to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, the Assistant Dean for Law Student Affairs, or the Dean of the School of Law. Once the appropriate party receives the report, they review it to determine the next steps.
The student may report to the Dean to clarify the matter and provide a written statement during this time. The Dean may also include persons who act as witnesses or have firsthand knowledge of the incident. Once this process finishes, the Dean decides whether the allegation against the student is valid. The Dean informs the student of their decision. The latter may ask to review the Dean's decision before the Academic Council.
The Academic Council conducts the hearing process. However, it may accept or deny the request for matters that require an official review. Regardless of whether the council accepts or rejects the hearing, they can decide the case's outcome. The council's decision is final unless a student asks for a review from the Appeals Panel.
According to the Student Code of Conduct, students may appeal a hearing decision under three conditions. They are:
- If the student believes that a procedural error or omission occurred during the hearing
- The discovery of new information not available at the time of the hearing
- If the punishment does not fall within the range of the usual sanctions at St. Mary's University
Based on the information, the Appeals Panel reviews the case. It delivers their decision to the Vice Provost for Student Development or the Dean of Students. The Vice Provost or Dean renders a final decision based on the panel's recommendations. After the initial try, a later appeal is not possible.
Possible Sanctions for Academic Misconduct
Sanctions for academic misconduct harm a student's reputation and future career. According to St. Mary's, they include:
- Asking the student to redo an assignment
- Receiving a failing grade n an assignment or class assignment
- Failing the course
- Temporary suspension with the requirement to satisfy specific conditions that determine a student's eligibility to return
- Expulsion from the university, including prohibition from being on campus
- A notation of academic expulsion on the student's permanent record
Even if the punishment doesn't involve a suspension or expulsion, students still lose time and must wait longer to graduate. In worst-case scenarios, students may lose all the time and effort spent pursuing their degrees. They may not find placement in another law school due to their transcript.
Hiring an Attorney-Advisor
You've worked hard and spent countless hours studying to become an attorney. Unfortunately, even an honest mistake or lapse in judgment can lead to harsh sanctions. When you are facing allegations of academic misconduct, you must do whatever you can to clear those charges against you. The good news is that you don't have to do it alone.
Attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento specializes in student discipline defense. With his passion for justice and exceptional knowledge of hearing processes around the country, Advisor Lento works hard to negotiate a favorable case outcome.
Don't let your time, money, and effort go to waste for a mistake. If you face allegations of academic misconduct at St. Mary's Law School, contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686.