Student Defense: University of Detroit Mercy School of Law

Established in 1912, the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law (Detroit Mercy Law) is Michigan's oldest private law school. As a Roman Catholic institution, Detroit Mercy Law adopts the Jesuit and Mercy tradition of value-based learning followed by the University of Detroit Mercy. The law school offers flexible options to pursue a degree, with full-time, part-time, and extended part-time learning options.

With such a prestigious reputation, this highly competitive law school means business when it comes to student discipline. And while you have multiple opportunities for future career success, you must also abide by a strict honor code that emphasizes high conduct standards. Whether intentionally or mistakenly, academic misconduct at Detroit Mercy Law potentially leads to sanctions that have severe consequences on your future as an attorney.

Honor Code at Detroit Mercy Law

The honor code at Detroit Mercy Law is part of the student handbook. The code emphasizes desirable behavior and highlights student rights and responsibilities. Moreover, it provides information regarding the complaint and resolution procedures that the law school follows upon discovering a violation. All students must act in a manner consistent with Detroit Mercy Law's standards of honor, integrity, and ethical conduct.

According to the honor code, the following actions constitute violations of academic integrity principles at Detroit Mercy Law:

  • Offering or providing unauthorized assistance to others
  • Engaging in misconduct behavior such as communicating with a peer during an exam or discussing it with another student
  • Submitting work that contains plagiarism
  • Deliberately submitting academic work duplicated from another academic institution
  • Submitting academic work prepared for another instructor or an employer
  • Restricting other students from accessing educational material necessary for their progress
  • Altering academic documents or falsifying records either for oneself or for a peer
  • Making false statements about other students, especially about academic misconduct
  • Interfering with any process to enforce the honor code
  • Aiding or abetting other students to violate the code
  • Retaliating against any member of the Detroit Mercy community for reporting academic misconduct to the honor council

The honor council at Detroit Mercy Law is responsible for overseeing and maintaining the standards listed in the code.

How Detroit Mercy Law Manages Academic Misconduct Accusations

Anyone who suspects a violation of the principles outlined in the honor code must report the incident to the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs (ADAA) personally or in writing. The ADAA first determines whether the report holds weight before informing the faculty chair of the honor council.

The Investigation Process

Once the faculty chair of the honor council receives a report, they appoint a faculty member to conduct an investigation and inform the alleged violator that an investigation is underway. Once this process concludes, the investigator must report their findings and provide their opinion on whether the issue warrants a hearing. If the investigator finds no reason to pursue the matter, the chair dismisses the case but keeps a record of the report on file for a year.

If the investigator finds evidence that a violation occurred, they recommend a hearing and sanctions and inform the student. If the student accepts the investigator's report and sanctions, they must acknowledge it in writing to the faculty chair.

Honor Council Hearing

Fifteen days after the student responds to the investigation and rejects the outcome, the honor council hearing occurs. The hearing consists of two processes, a Conduct Hearing and a Sanctions Hearing. The Honor Council Hearing Panel (HCHP) and the faculty chair preside over the process. Students have the opportunity to provide witnesses and make a statement regarding the matter.

Conduct & Sanctions Hearings

During the Conduct Hearing, the HCHP and other presiding members ask for evidence, statements, and additional information to determine whether the student committed an academic misconduct violation. If the panel believes that the student is at fault, it recommends sanctions. If the student accepts these sanctions, no other official process occurs.

If the accused student does not accept the sanctions recommended by the HCHP, the law school holds a sanctions hearing. Here, the student may present mitigating evidence in writing regarding their case. The HCHP, however, will impose sanctions if it believes a violation occurred.

Appeals

Fortunately, students may appeal the HCHP's decision under certain circumstances. They include:

  • Factual errors that find the student guilty of academic misconduct
  • An erroneous interpretation of the honor code occurred
  • The punishment is disproportionate to the acts committed by the student
  • A prejudicial error caused a departure from regular procedures outlined in the code

Students who wish to appeal a decision must submit it in writing to the Dean of the School of Law within ten days of receiving the HCHP's notice.

Possible Sanctions for Academic Misconduct at Detroit Mercy Law

The HCHP's sanctions depend on the number of times the student committed a violation and the severity of the case. As per the code, these punishments include:

  • A written reprimand that goes in the student's file
  • Honor probation and loss of scholarships, awards, and leadership positions
  • Ethical counseling
  • Reduced credits for an assignment or course
  • Suspension for a definite timeframe
  • Indefinite suspension with reinstatement possible after meeting specific requirements
  • Expulsion with a chance to withdraw
  • Permanent dismissal with no opportunity to withdraw

Even the minimum sanction has negative consequences on your future as a law student.

Hiring an Attorney-Advisor

If you face academic misconduct allegations at Detroit Mercy Law, your chances of success increase when you consult with a professional. Fortunately, the law school allows students to have a professional present during the hearing. You may consult with them within reason during the proceedings.

Although an advisor cannot speak on your behalf, the guidance of a professional who specializes in student defense makes all the difference when your future career is on the line.

Attorney-Advisor Joseph D. Lento understands the severity of honor code violations and their implications on your future. With years of experience working with students accused of academic misconduct nationwide, attorney-advisor Lento helps you prepare for a stressful hearing.

Don't let an allegation destroy your dream of becoming an attorney. Call the Lento Law Firm today for a thorough consultation at 888-535-3686.

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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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