At the University of Miami School of Law, honesty and integrity are fundamental to a legal education. There's no reason to believe that dishonest law students will become honest lawyers, so the Law School holds its students to the highest ethical standards and expects honesty at all times.
The Law School not only wants to create ethical lawyers, but also wants to foster an intellectual sanctuary where scholarship and honest debate can take place. To that end, all students should have the chance to learn and excel based on their merits, free from the unfairness that academic dishonesty creates.
Law students who do not uphold standards of integrity and ethical behavior at the University of Miami Law School will face disciplinary procedures according to the Law School's Honor Code and place their legal careers in danger. Admission to state bar associations may not be possible for law graduates with academic or professional misconduct determinations on their records.
If you're a law student accused of violating the University of Miami School of Law's Honor Code, you should take the allegation as a serious matter. A student defense attorney-advisor can help you defend the accusation and increase your chances of getting a favorable outcome.
Academic and Professional Misconduct at the University of Miami School of Law
The University of Miami School of Law institutes an Honor Code for each academic year to perpetuate a high standard of ethics and professional demeanor among students. The Law School also appoints an Honor Council to investigate and adjudicate alleged violations of the Honor Code. The Honor Council includes 24 second-year and third-year law students who are elected by their classmates for a two-year term.
Examples of Honor Code Violations
The Honor Code lists several behaviors that would constitute a violation:
- Using unauthorized materials or breaching the instructions of an academic assignment or examination
- Materially damaging property of the University, another student, faculty member, guest, or employee of the Law School or University
- Defacing, damaging, hiding, or removing library materials without authorization
- Actions that materially disrupt a class, meeting, other function of the Law School, or that interferes with the rights of other students to pursue their education
- Misrepresenting academic or professional qualifications, conduct, class attendance, grades, financial need, or other facts related to a student's academic work on any official document or oral statement
- Making a bad faith allegation that a student has violated the Honor Code
- Failing to report suspected violations of the Honor Code to the Dean of Students or the Honor Council
- Disclosing confidential information about other students without authorization
- Conduct that is inconsistent with the Florida Rules of Professional Conduct
- Using the University's computer information systems for non-law-school-related activities without authorization
Procedures for Suspected Violations of the Honor Code
Anyone may bring a report of a suspected violation to the Dean of Students at the University of Miami School of Law. When the Dean receives the complaint, they may choose one of the following actions:
- Dismiss the complaint
- Launch a preliminary investigation
- Return the complaint to the complaining party for modification
- Forward the complaint to the Honor Council President
- Transfer the complaint to another University authority
The Honor Council will appoint investigators to look into the complaint. The investigators may gather evidence, interview witnesses, meet with the complainant, and speak with the alleged Honor Code violator. The investigators will report their findings to a Probable Cause Panel composed of three members of the Honor Council. The Panel will vote to determine if there's probable cause, which requires a majority. If there's no probable cause, the Council dismisses the case. If there is, the case will move to a hearing.
Accused students may have two Student Advocates as well as an external attorney present with them at the hearing. The attorney may not participate, however. The Honor Council will appoint two School Advocates to represent the Law School in an Honor Code violation hearing.
The Hearing Panel will include six people appointed by the Honor Council President. At the hearing, both sides may present their evidence, cross-examine witnesses, and make opening and closing statements. After the hearing, the Panel will convene to discuss and vote on whether the accused student committed an Honor Code violation. They need a two-thirds affirmative vote to find the accused student guilty. The Hearing Panel will issue their decision, but it's not final until the Dean reviews it.
When the Dean receives the Hearing Panel's decision, they can either enter a final decision and impose sanctions or remand the case for another hearing. The Dean has sole discretion to impose one or more of the following sanctions:
- Informal or formal warning
- Private reprimand
- Public reprimand
- University service
- Disciplinary probation
- A failing grade in the course involved
- Suspension or loss of specific Law School benefits and privileges
- Suspension from the Law School
- Expulsion from the Law School
The guilty determination and sanction will become part of the student's permanent file as well.
Once the Dean enters a final decision and imposes a sanction, there is no possibility for an appeal. The accused student cannot intervene during the Dean's review, either.
Retaining a Student Defense Attorney-Advisor
The consequences for violating the Honor Code at the University of Miami School of Law are severe. If you're an accused student who wants to avoid a sanction and a permanent notation of misconduct on your law school record, then you'll have to prepare a solid defense for your hearing.
An attorney-advisor specialized in academic misconduct for law students can help you strategize your defense, gather evidence, and contact witnesses. They can also ensure your institution is following its own rules and upholding your rights throughout the disciplinary process. How As is the case at almost all law schools, disciplinary proceedings at the University of Miami are intense and rigorous with everything on the line. With so much at stake, you need someone in your corner who will be solely dedicated to your cause and will work to ensure a fair process and a favorable outcome.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm do just that on a daily basis - having helped hundreds of law students across the country fight accusations of academic misconduct and protect their future as a lawyer. If you're a law student accused of misconduct and want to protect your future, call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686.