Student Defense - University of South Dakota Knudson School of Law

At the University of South Dakota (USD) Knudson School of Law, honesty and integrity are essential qualities for law students. All students are expected to conduct themselves in a manner fitting the legal profession, in all aspects of student life. Misconduct in academics, professional settings, and extracurricular activities is not tolerated and is subject to the School of Law's student disciplinary procedures.

Students who are unable to demonstrate the qualities of good character needed to obtain certification by the School of Law for admission to the practice of law will, unfortunately, face severe consequences. Misconduct of this nature could prevent a law student from finishing their degree on time or even from being able to pass the bar's character and fitness exam.

If you have been accused of misconduct at Knudson School of Law, consider contacting a student defense attorney-advisor for assistance.

Misconduct at USD School of Law

USD School of Law has an Honor System that applies to all aspects of student life. This Honor System and the Student Disciplinary Procedures used to enforce it are in the Student Handbook. The Honor System is in effect in all of the following contexts for law students:

  • Courses at the School of Law
  • While working as a clinical intern or extern
  • Participation in co-curricular activities
  • Summer employment

It's not limited to these four situations; they're merely examples to show that students should always conduct themselves with honor and integrity when they are matriculated at the USD School of Law.

Examples of Academic and Professional Misconduct

The Student Handbook doesn't provide many specific examples of what is considered an honor violation, but it does list these behaviors as condemnable:

  • Lying
  • Cheating
  • Stealing
  • Plagiarizing
  • Breaking one's word of honor

In addition to following the rules in the School of Law's Student Handbook and the USD Student Handbook, law students must also conform to the standards appropriate to a professional school and the Rules of Professional Conduct as approved by the Supreme Court of South Dakota.

Procedures for Student Discipline at USD School of Law

All violations of the Honor System or professional misconduct accusations are handled by the School of Law's Disciplinary Board. This Board has three student members and two faculty members, as well as an additional faculty member to serve as Examiner. When dealing with misconduct, there is a five-step process that the Board and Examiner must follow:

  1. Reporting the allegation
  2. Notice and preliminary procedures
  3. Hearing
  4. Findings and determination
  5. Appeal and final action

Reporting the Allegation

Any faculty, student, or staff member may report an allegation of misconduct to the Examiner via a signed, written statement. The statement should contain names of known witnesses, statements, or other data.

The Student Handbook does allow faculty members to impose academic sanctions for misconduct that affects a student's performance in their courses. This punishment would be in addition to the sanctions that the Examiner and Disciplinary Board would implement.

Notice and Preliminary Procedures

The Examiner notifies the accused student of the allegation against them and that the Examiner will begin an investigation into the matter. At this time, the accused student can submit information to the Examiner and may also speak with the Examiner as part of the investigation.

Once the Examiner has gathered all the information, they will make one of the following recommendations to the Board:

  1. Hold a hearing
  2. Issue a private reprimand with no hearing
  3. Take no further action on the issue


If the Board chooses to have a hearing, it must give the accused student ten working days to prepare. At the hearing, the student may be represented by the counsel of their choice, examine witnesses and evidence, and make a statement in their own favor. They can also cross-examine witnesses and present rebuttal evidence.

Findings and Determination

As soon as the hearing is over, the Board meets to determine whether the allegations against the accused student are supported by a preponderance of the evidence. Three of the five Board members have to vote in favor of the allegation being supported for the decision to pass. If that happens, the Board must determine an appropriate sanction, which is also agreed upon by an affirmative vote of three Board members. Sanctions involving expulsion or suspension require four affirmative votes, however.


Once the accused student receives notice of the decision and sanction, they have five working days to submit a written appeal to the Dean. The Dean can approve or disapprove the actions of the Board, in whole or in part, and substitute a different finding and less severe sanction. The Dean may also decide to return the matter to the Board for further consideration.

If a student wishes to appeal the Dean's action, they can file an appeal request with the President of the University of South Dakota within ten calendar days of the Dean's decision. The President can act on the appeal at their own discretion, including modifying the Dean's action. This step is the final chance students have to appeal in the disciplinary process.

Potential Sanctions for Academic and Professional Misconduct at USD School of Law

The Student Handbook only mentions a few potential consequences for misconduct:

  • Academic sanctions
  • Private reprimand
  • Suspension
  • Expulsion

How a Student Defense Attorney-Advisor Can Help

If you are suspected of misconduct at USD School of Law, you will have to go through the formal disciplinary procedures—which can be overwhelming. A student defense advisor can not only represent you at the hearing but can also help you find evidence and prepare your overall defense strategy. They can be your guide as you deal with your law school's misconduct process.

Joseph D. Lento has helped hundreds of students across the country with academic and professional misconduct accusations and has the unique experience to advise you on how best to handle the situation. Contact the Lento Law Firm today by calling 888-535-3686 to protect your career as a lawyer.

Contact Us Today!

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.

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations - the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website. In Pennsylvania, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout Pennsylvania's 67 counties, including, but not limited to Philadelphia, Allegheny, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Schuylkill, and York County. In New Jersey, attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New Jersey's 21 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren County, In New York, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New York's 62 counties. Outside of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, unless attorney Joseph D. Lento is admitted pro hac vice if needed, his assistance may not constitute legal advice or the practice of law. The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, New Jersey, New York, or nationwide should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.