Student Defense – University of New Mexico School of Law

At the University of New Mexico School of Law (UNM Law), the student body governs itself in matters of professional conduct. Students are responsible for upholding ethical conduct standards, much like a practicing bar. UNM Law expects integrity of the highest order from each of its students, and they are honor-bound to follow these rules.

Students who do not behave with honesty and integrity may be violating UNM Law's conduct codes and could face disciplinary action. An academic misconduct violation on a student's law school record could lead to difficulties finding a job or clerkship. It may also make passing the character and fitness evaluation harder.

If you have been accused of academic misconduct at UNM Law, know that your future as a legal professional could be at stake. Consider contacting a student defense attorney-advisor for assistance.

Student Misconduct at UNM Law

At UNM Law, the Bulletin and Handbook of Policies contains the Student Code of Conduct. Students wrote this code and a student-led Honor Board is responsible for administering it. The code relates only to academic matters, listing behavior that constitutes a violation and procedures for dealing with suspected violations.

The Student Code of Conduct applies to anyone enrolled in UNM Law. If it comes to light that a former student is guilty of violating the code, the Dean of the Law School will inform any state bar association or relevant professional licensing organization to which the former student belongs.

Examples of Prohibited Conduct at UNM Law

The UNM Law Student Code of Conduct lists several behaviors considered violations:

  • Obtaining or using prior to an exam any information concerning the content of the exam, unless such information is authorized by the instructor
  • Bringing books, papers, or other materials not authorized by the instructor into the exam room
  • Referring to or possessing unauthorized books, papers, or other materials during an exam
  • Communicating in any manner with another student during an exam
  • Failing to turn in all exam materials at the appointed time
  • Taking more time to complete an exam than is allowed
  • Discussing an exam already taken with another student who hasn't yet taken it
  • Plagiarism
  • Representing someone else's work as one's own
  • Using unauthorized research materials
  • Submitting work in fulfillment of any law school requirement when it was previously submitted elsewhere
  • Intentionally damaging or destroying library property
  • Lying, cheating, stealing, or being dishonest when participating in school activities such as moot court competitions, client counseling, and clinical law programs
  • Taking property belonging to another student, faculty, or staff member without the owner's permission
  • Refusing to report a suspected violation of the Student Code of Conduct
  • Refusing to appear when requested for an Honor Board hearing

Disciplinary Procedures for Academic Misconduct at UNM Law

At UNM Law, the disciplinary process for academic misconduct proceeds in four-stage: Reporting, investigation, Honor Board hearing, and appeals.

Reporting a Student Code of Conduct Violation

The Student Bar Association (SBA) president hears all suspected violations of the Student Code of Conduct. The SBA president writes a report of the allegation, with a witness present, and delivers it to the SBA Investigating Officer.

Investigation

The Investigating Officer will look into the matter to determine whether the case should go before the Honor Board for a hearing. The Officer has two weeks to complete an investigation and may talk to witnesses, the accused student, and faculty and staff if relevant. If the Officer determines the accused student has violated the Student Code of Conduct, they'll bring the matter before the Honor Board. If not, they can dismiss the case.

Honor Board Hearing

The Honor Board consists of the SBA Executive Committee plus one faculty member. After receiving the Investigating Officer's report, the Honor Board will schedule a hearing within six days. At the hearing, the Investigating Officer acts as prosecutor and has the burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that the accused student has violated the Student Code of Conduct.

The accused student may present and cross-examine witnesses, present evidence, and have counsel present at the Honor Board hearing. After the hearing is over, the Honor Board leaves to deliberate. If the Board decides that the student has committed a violation, it will consider and determine sanctions.

Appeals

Only a sanction is available for appeal; students cannot appeal the determination of the Honor Board. Students must submit a written sanction appeal to the Dean within 72 hours of the Hearing Board's decision. The Dean may not increase the sanction's severity but may reduce it.

Sanctions for Code of Conduct Violations at UNM Law

The UNM Law Honor Board may impose one of the following sanctions on students guilty of violating the Student Code of Conduct:

  • Verbal reprimand
  • Written reprimand
  • Written reprimand with a copy in the student's file
  • Recommendation to a professor for a grade change
  • Removal from a related school activity
  • Suspension
  • Permanent expulsion
  • Any combination of the above

The Honor Board can also suggest any other reasonable sanction in light of the circumstances.

How a Student Defense Attorney-Advisor Can Help

When you are accused of violating the Student Code of Conduct at UNM Law, you may feel like you have nowhere to turn. With a student defense advocate by your side, the formal disciplinary process will seem much less overwhelming. An experienced attorney-advisor can help you prepare your defense by identifying witnesses and gathering evidence. Working with a student defense advisor greatly increases the prospect of a fair disciplinary process and a favorable outcome for you.

Attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped hundreds of law students across the country in academic misconduct cases. He has unparalleled experience protecting students' rights when they're accused of violating conduct codes. If you want to protect your future as a lawyer, 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 the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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