Student Defense – University of Richmond T.C. Williams School of Law

The School of Law at the University of Richmond is a community devoted to learning, with an honor system created and administered by students. Every member of the law school community is accountable for their actions, and each student must demonstrate honesty and integrity in their conduct. Not only do these principles uphold the trust of the academic community, but they also prepare law students to enter a profession where there is an expectation of honesty and ethical behavior.

Students who do not act with honor at Richmond Law will face disciplinary action, including sanctions that could hold up progress toward their law degree. A notation of academic misconduct on a student's record could make it difficult to find employment or pass the character and fitness evaluation with state bar associations.

If you have been accused of academic misconduct at the University of Richmond School of Law, your future as a lawyer could be at risk. Consider contacting an experienced student discipline attorney-advisor for help.

Student Misconduct at Richmond Law

The School of Law at the University of Richmond has an Honor Code that all enrolled students must follow. The Honor Council oversees the administration of the Code and deals with suspected violations. Students at Richmond Law must sign a pledge upon entering the law school, promising to abide by the Code concerning all law school activities.

Examples of Academic Misconduct

  • “Making a false statement, which the maker knows to be false; or… made with reckless disregard for the truth”
  • “Any act performed with the intent to gain an unfair advantage in any Law School Activity”
  • Plagiarism
  • Giving unauthorized aid to or receiving unauthorized aid from another student
  • Using or consulting unauthorized materials or equipment on tests, quizzes, assignments, or exams
  • “Using any material portion of a paper or project to fulfill the requirements of more than one course”
  • Intentionally starting an exam or continuing to work on an exam outside the prescribed time period
  • “Unauthorized removal, relocation, or mutilation of academic materials” to deprive or prevent others from having equal learning opportunities
  • Failing to report an Honor Code infraction
  • Refusing to provide information in connection to an Honor Code infraction
  • Knowingly assisting another in committing an Honor Code infraction

How Does Richmond Law Handle Academic Misconduct?

Anyone who suspects a violation of the University of Richmond School of Law Honor Code has occurred must report it to the Grievance Committee. The Grievance Committee will investigate the claim, which may include interviewing witnesses and assembling documents. The Committee votes to determine if it should formally charge the accused student with misconduct, requiring five affirmative votes from the committee's six members.

Pre-Hearing Procedures

After a formal charge, accused students may meet with the Chief Justice, the Prosecutor, and a Student Advocate to try and resolve the matter informally. If there's no informal resolution, the accused student must plead “guilty” or “not guilty” to the charge. A guilty plea leads to a sanction hearing, and a not guilty plea leads to a trial hearing. The prosecutor and the accused student may request witnesses to testify at the trial, and the Chief Justice will notify these witnesses beforehand. At any time, the accused student may ask for an informal resolution or change their plea from not guilty to guilty.

Trial

Trials under the Richmond Law Honor Code are closed to the public unless the accused student requests otherwise. All parties are allowed to call witnesses and question any witness who appears at trial. There are also no rules of evidence so that “the parties can present any information that is useful to a decision in the case in any manner that is fair.” Both parties may also make opening and closing statements at the trial.

The Trial Court deliberates privately once the trial is over and must use the standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt to find an accused person guilty. Four of the five members of the Trial Court must vote to issue a verdict on any charge. The Trial Court can find the accused student guilty as charged, guilty of an infraction less severe than charged, or not guilty.

Sanction Hearing

If the Trial Court finds the accused student guilty, it will proceed immediately to a sanction hearing. All parties can present any evidence or argument relevant to the sanction, and the Chief Justice may delay the sanction hearing until later when the parties have had more time to assemble information. The Trial Court deliberates regarding the sanction and decides by majority vote.

Appeals

An accused student can appeal the Trial Court's decision by notifying a member of the Appeal Board within five days of the trial. The Appeal Board consists of three faculty members. The parties can submit written statements to the Appeal Board but may not appear before it. The Appeal Board can affirm the judgment of the Trial Court, remand the case, impose a lesser sanction, or dismiss the charge.

Possible Sanctions for Academic Misconduct at Richmond Law

  • Recommendation of separation from Richmond Law
  • Recommendation of suspension from Richmond Law
  • Written or oral warning
  • Recommendation that student receive a specific or failing grade
  • Task or service participation
  • Restitution
  • Loss of privileges
  • Probation with or without conditions
  • Other appropriate sanctions

Consulting a Student Defense Attorney-Advisor

If you are accused of an Honor Code violation at Richmond Law, you might feel overwhelmed by the formality of the procedures. An attorney-advisor with experience facing university and law school disciplinary boards can tell you what to expect and prepare you for your trial.

Attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped hundreds of law students across the country in academic misconduct matters and can help you safeguard your future as a lawyer. Contact the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 to discuss your case.

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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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