Student’s Degree Revoked in Plagiarism Case

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Feb 25, 2022 | 0 Comments

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.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients nationwide. Attorney Lento and his team represent students and others in disciplinary cases and various other proceedings at colleges and universities across the United States. Attorney Lento has helped countless students, professors, and others in academia at more than a thousand colleges and universities across the United States, and when necessary, he and his team have sought justice on behalf of clients in courts across the nation. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide, and he can help you or your student address any school-related issue or concern anywhere in the United States.


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

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.