A master's student at the University of Colorado, Casey Martin, unfortunately found himself in the unenviable position of having his degree revoked after a long battle with his school. As can happen often enough, especially without professional help from as early as possible, Martin alleged he experienced various concerns related to his disciplinary process after he was accused of academic misconduct.
Martin ultimately challenged the University of Colorado's decision to revoke his master's degree after a prolonged academic misconduct case with the courts. Martin argued that the Regents violated his right to due process and bore a bias against him. However, Colorado's Court of Appeals disagreed with this assessment. The court upheld the university’s revocation of Martin's degree.
Martin v. Regents of the University of Colorado
Justin Aukema spearheaded the original plagiarism allegations against Martin. Aukema, having completed his thesis defense prior to Martin's, believed that Martin used his data to assert his own points. Aukema first brought this alleged plagiarism to the attention of CU's Honor Code Council.
While the Honor Code Council first upheld Aukema's assertions of plagiarism, the council then withdrew its assertion. Aukema then escalated the charges, taking them to CU's Standing Committee of Research Misconduct. It was this committee, alongside CU's Regents, that asserted further evidence of plagiarism and revoked Martin's degree.
Bias in Plagiarism Cases: Martin's Appeal
At the time of Martin's appeal, neither the Regents nor the appeals court contested that either Aukema or Martin had engaged in plagiarism. Rather, the appeal addressed whether or not the Regents involved bias when assessing Martin's work.
Martin asserted that the Regents overused their authority by instigating a second misconduct case against him, especially after the Honor Code Council withdrew their decision. Colorado's district court assessed the Regents' decision under Rule 106(a)(4). The court then cited a lack of specifics on Martin's part in its decision to uphold the Regents' revocation.
Understanding Plagiarism and Avoiding Misconduct Charges
While Martin's appeal may have centered on accusations of bias, his troubles began with accusations of plagiarism. The specific definition of plagiarism varies between universities. Most institutions, however, recognize the purposeful misuse of another person's data or thoughts as plagiarism.
Similarly, many universities can accuse students of self-plagiarism. A student who submits their own previously created work as new content can face the same consequences as a student who uses someone else's work.
Students accused of plagiarism face academic, professional, and social consequences. When a graduate cannot adequately defend against these charges, they, like Martin, may have their degrees revoked. If a degree has not already been conferred, universities can suspend or expel a student accused of plagiarism.
In cases involving suspension for academic misconduct, even after obtaining their degree, these students may have a more difficult time finding careers in their chosen fields. Almost all universities make a note of plagiarism responsibility on their students' disciplinary records. Some schools will also include such negative marks on students' transcripts also. Any employer that requests a disciplinary record or transcript alongside a student's application can then develop a negative opinion of that student's integrity.
The additional concern with a suspension is that even if not specifically noted on a student's transcript, there will be a gap of time which will need to be explained by the student. Explaining that you were suspended for academic integrity issues will obviously not help a student's candidacy for competitive internships, graduate programs, or professional employment, especially in fields that require trust such as finance, medicine, law, or government.
Getting Ahead of Academic Misconduct Accusations
While students can appeal academic misconduct cases on the basis of bias, it is often best to contest these charges with the help of a professional experienced in the most effective manner to address academic misconduct charges. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm help students across the United States defeat academic misconduct charges and overcome the challenges associated with such allegations. Through various efforts at the school level and in court when necessary, Attorney Lento and his expert team fight to ensure students and their families can adequately contest a university's plagiarism charges so that students can continue towards their academic and professional goals.
To get ahead of potential career-ending accusations, students and parents can contact Attorney Lento and the Lento Law Firm team at 888-535-3686. The Lento Law Firm can also be contacted via its online form.