The legal field is incredibly competitive, whether studying as student at Tulane University Law School or as an attorney arguing a case before the Supreme Court. Attorneys fight for cases, advocate for their clients, and endeavor to create a safer world where justice reigns true. To forge such creative defenders of the peace, law schools foster that same level of competitiveness and forward-thinking for which lawyers are known. Students who hope to graduate from law school have already acquired a highly prestigious academic record. They have received their undergraduate degrees with high marks, sat for the entrance exams, and worked hard on their application packages. They never expect to be accused of academic misconduct and potentially expelled from their law school. It never really crosses their mind, and so they are unprepared when the moment occurs. If you or someone you love has been accused of academic misconduct at Tulane University Law School, having an attorney-advisor to advocate on your behalf is critical. Attorney-advisors will work tirelessly to mitigate any adverse consequences associated with the accusations and bring about the best possible outcome for the student accused.
Tulane University has a very specific honor code included in its student handbook. The University expects students to be held to the same professional responsibility standard as barred attorneys. If a student violates the honor code, they will be subject to a hearing in front of the honor board and its advisors. Actions that violate the honor code include:
- Knowingly giving or receiving help during an exam, while writing a paper, or conducting research, without the express permission of the professor.
- Knowingly giving or receiving help when working on a journal write-on competition or moot court competition without the express permission of the professor.
- Plagiarizing by knowingly and intentionally using another's work and pretending it is your own with the intention to deceive.
- Plagiarizing by recklessly failing to show that the work was not your own.
- Using or referring to any material specifically forbidden by the professor, administrator, or student in charge.
- Violating the instructions of any law school course or academic competition so that you have an unfair advantage over others who are adhering to the rules.
- Knowingly compromising the anonymous grading system.
- Getting, giving, or knowingly receiving any unauthorized information about an exam before you take it.
- Knowingly misrepresenting your own, or another student's, attendance on an attendance sheet.
- Submitting work that is the same or mostly the same as work submitted for another course.
Academic Dishonesty Disciplinary Procedures
Once the University is made aware of an honor code violation, the Chief Justice of the Honor Board has 72 hours to assign another member of the Honor Board to investigate the matter. This principal investigator will conduct an unbiased investigation into the allegation by interviewing the accused and any alleged witnesses and gathering documentary and other tangible evidence. The investigation must be completed within 21 days of when the investigator received the assignment.
Within a week, the principal investigator will then present their investigation to the Chief Justice of the Honor Board, another member of the honor board, and a faculty member. This panel will then determine if it is more probable than not that an honor code violation occurred. If this panel does not meet within seven days from the conclusion of the investigation, the accused can request dismissal. But, if most of the panel finds that probable cause exists, they will draft formal charges and notify the accused student.
The student has 20 days from this point to file an answer. They may do so on their own but are encouraged to seek legal help to aid them in filing the answer. In the response, they must either deny the charges and ask for a hearing or admit the charges and ask for a hearing to determine acceptable sanctions. When the answer is received, the Honor Board will set up a hearing – which can be no sooner than 15 days after filing, and no more than 30 days from the date it is filed, unless the student asked for, and is awarded, extra time. Additionally, the accused student has the right to call witnesses and access all the information the Honor Board gathered during their investigation.
During the hearing, the Chief Justice of the Honor Board and the members of the Honor Board on the panel will determine if the student is guilty of the honor code violation. If so, they will determine which sanction is most appropriate. Typical sanctions at Tulane University Law School include:
- Placing a letter into the student's file with the findings of the hearing panel
- Removing from or denying eligibility for Law Review, Moot Court Board, Moot Court Team, Law Journals, Student Bar Association, or similar
- Suspension for a certain period
- Permanent expulsion
- Withdrawal of academic credit for the course, reduction of a grade, or entering a failing grade for the student
The Dean of the Law School will automatically review the hearing and sanctions given within 15 days of the hearing. If they find the sanctions excessive, they may reduce the sanctions, but they cannot increase the sanctions. If the student chooses to appeal a second time, the Senate Committee for Academic Freedoms and Responsibility by Students will review the hearing and sanctions and determine if there is still a preponderance of the evidence. The student has ten days to request this secondary appeal.
How an Attorney-Advisor Can Help
As described above, attorney-advisors can help an accused student work towards a fair process and the best possible outcome, including mitigating the negative consequences associated with these accusations. For instance, if expelled from your program, you will find it exceedingly difficult to enter another law program as a transfer student. An experienced attorney-advisor will work vigilantly to fight any unwarranted allegations, and if facing unreasonable sanctions, will at the very least fight to have them reconsidered to allow you to continue in the program with an improved permanent record. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and Lento Law Firm have helped hundreds of law students across the country deal with honor code violation accusations. You do not have to navigate this trying time alone, call 888-535-3686 today to schedule a consultation.