Student Defense – University of Georgia School of Law

At the University of Georgia, all students must comply with high standards of academic integrity. UGA School of Law also has its own Honor Code that law students must follow if they want to earn a law degree and enter the legal profession. Lawyers are endowed with public trust and must act with honesty and integrity, upholding the standards of the American Bar Association and state law. As future lawyers, law students at UGA Law School are held to these same standards, to prepare them for their careers in the legal profession.

Students who do not conduct themselves with academic and professional honesty and integrity may face serious penalties for their actions. In addition to sanctions imposed by UGA Law School, it may be difficult for law students with academic misconduct notations on their records to pass the character and fitness evaluation with the state bar association. Potential employers could also look unfavorably at instances of academic or professional misconduct during a law student's time at UGA Law School. One case of academic misconduct can derail a law graduate's career before it starts.

If you are a law student at UGA Law School accused of academic dishonesty or other professional misconduct, consider contacting an attorney-advisor specialized in student misconduct defense.

Student Misconduct at UGA Law School

At UGA Law School, the Student Handbook contains policies for student behavior, including the Honor Code, Plagiarism Policy, and Professionalism Policy. These policies apply to all UGA Law School students. The Law School also has an Honor Court, which tries violations of the Honor Code and determines punishment in cases of guilt.

In addition to the Law School policies set forth in the Student Handbook, UGA law students must also follow all relevant policies of the University of Georgia.

Examples of academic misconduct at UGA Law School

  • Use of unauthorized materials on an examination or graded assignment
  • Writing beyond the time of the examination
  • Communication with any unauthorized person during an examination
  • Communication concerning an examination with any student who has already taken or not yet taken the exam
  • Purposeful destruction, mutilation, secretion, or unauthorized removal of any law school property, including library material
  • Submission of any work prepared, used, or submitted in another course or for a law journal, clinic, employer, or any other organization
  • Agreeing, soliciting, attempting, or agreeing to commit, assist, or facilitate a violation of the Honor Code
  • Failure to report a known violation of the Honor Code
  • Making a false representation about one's academic record or law school activities to a prospective employer or another academic institution
  • Unauthorized taking of another student's books, class notes, outlines, study materials, or computer

UGA Law School plagiarism policy

Note that plagiarism is not covered by the Honor Code, but by the UGA Law School Faculty Policy on Plagiarism. This policy defines plagiarism as:

  1. The use of another's exact words without proper citation
  2. The use of another's organizational scheme without acknowledgment
  3. Either close paraphrasing of the work of another without attribution or submission of a work that largely paraphrases another without attribution

Professionalism at UGA Law School

The Faculty Policy on Professionalism at UGA Law School also requires students to be honest, dignified, civil, courteous, respectful, prepared, and dependable in their behavior. At new student orientation, each student must take the Law School Student Oath promising to conduct themselves professionally.

How UGA Law School Handles Academic Misconduct

The disciplinary procedures for violations of the Honor Code at UGA Law proceed in three phases, including investigation, Honor Court adjudication, and appeals.

Investigation

All reports of suspected Honor Code violations go to the Chief Investigator, a member of the UGA Law School Honor Court. After the Honor Court's investigative committee looks into the matter and makes a report, the case is either dismissed, referred to the Honor Court, or taken under further investigation.

Honor Court adjudication

If the case proceeds to a hearing, the accused student will go before a Hearing Panel comprised of members of the Honor Court. At this hearing, students have a right to have counsel present with them, but this representative cannot participate in the hearing, only advise the student. Accused students may also call witnesses, present evidence, and cross-examine witnesses. The Hearing Panel confers privately to determine guilt. If there is a determination of guilt, a sanction hearing starts immediately after to find the appropriate sanction.

Appeals

If students disagree with the court's decision, they can appeal to the Dean of the Law School within 15 days of the receipt of the report. An appellate panel of three faculty members decides the appeal, and accused students have the right to go before this panel. The appellate panel can modify the recommended sanctions, reverse the finding of a violation, order a new trial, dismiss the charges, or affirm the action of the hearing court. This decision is final.

Possible Sanctions for Honor Code Violations

The Honor Court may impose sanctions, which include but are not limited to:

  • Written reprimand
  • Community service
  • Loss of privileges within the law school
  • Failure of a course
  • Repetition of a failed course
  • Suspension or probated suspension
  • Expulsion

Any imposed sanction goes in the student's permanent record or transcript.

Can a Student Defense Attorney-Advisor Help?

At a UGA Law School Honor Code violation hearing, you are allowed to have an outside representative, such as an attorney, present. An attorney-advisor who has dealt with the disciplinary procedures of educational institutions across the country can advise you on how to prepare your defense, gather evidence, and examine witnesses.

Attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped hundreds of students nationwide in student defense cases at their colleges, universities, and graduate schools. If you are facing an academic misconduct violation and are concerned for your future, contact the Lento Law Firm today 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 our offices today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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