Honesty and integrity are qualities that are essential to the legal profession. Students preparing to enter this profession must conduct themselves in accordance with these qualities in all of their professional activities, including with respect to the School of Law. Accordingly, law students shall act with honesty and candor, and shall fulfill obligations of good faith and fair dealing in their relations with their peers, University faculty and staff, and the professional legal community at large.
This Academic Integrity Policy spells out the School of Law’s expectations for law students in this regard. In particular, it addresses the rules governing dishonest conduct, such as cheating, plagiarism, and unauthorized collaboration. The policy also makes clear that serious administrative, academic, and other consequences will flow from any breach of these rules. These consequences may inhibit a law student from being admitted to the practice of law in the State of California or elsewhere.
This policy will be enforced regardless of a student’s actual knowledge or awareness of the provisions. Each student has the responsibility to understand and follow these rules.
Law Students are also subject to the University Student Conduct Code. (www.scu.edu/osl/.)
2. Prohibited Conduct
The following conduct violates the Academic Integrity Policy:
- Cheating on tests or assignments
- Unauthorized collaboration
- Multiple submission of the same work product (“double dipping”)
- Any other dishonest behavior concerning academic work
3. Definitions and Examples
Cheating can take many forms and includes, but is not limited to, plagiarism, unauthorized collaboration, and “double dipping.”
- In an exam or test-taking environment, bringing, referencing or using prohibited materials or information (e.g. unauthorized notes, hornbooks, study aids) or accessing websites or unauthorized sources.
- Bringing unauthorized electronic devices into a test-taking environment or using unauthorized devices during an exam.
- Seeking any unauthorized assistance from another person during an examination.
- Copying from another student during an examination.
- Continuing to write any exam answer when the exam time has expired.
- Gaining access to exam materials prior to the administration of the exam without authorization.
- Receiving information about or offering to provide information about a re-scheduled exam to someone who is a late test taker.
- Obtaining an unfair academic advantage through any other means.
Cheating does not include authorized assistance given to accommodate an approved disability.
Plagiarism is the use of the words or ideas of another without appropriate attribution.
Any academic work that is submitted must be the student’s own work product. This includes drafts of assignments turned in for review, final versions of any work product, articles submitted to journals or any other work produced for an academic purpose.
Research papers naturally include reference to cases, law review articles, books, statutes, internet resources and other sources. “You must acknowledge all material quoted, paraphrased, or summarized from any published or unpublished work. Failing to cite a source, deliberately or accidentally, is plagiarism—representing as your own the words or ideas of another.” Harbrace College Handbook 412 (12th ed., 1994). When using such materials, writers should err on the side of providing, rather than omitting, reference information.
Avoiding allegations of plagiarism requires knowing when to provide a citation or attribution. Here are important rules to follow when working with authority:
- Acknowledge direct use of someone else’s words.
- Acknowledge any paraphrase of someone else’s words.
- Acknowledge direct use of someone else’s idea.
- Acknowledge a source when your own analysis or conclusion builds on that source.
- Acknowledge a source when your idea about a legal opinion came from a source other than the opinion itself.
Material obtained through any source must be attributed, including material obtained from electronic databases such as LexisNexis®; Westlaw®; and the Internet. Review the ALWD Citation Manual Rules 38, 39, and 40, and The Bluebook 17.3 for the rules on properly citing electronic sources.
However, “[i]tems of ‘common knowledge’ can be indicated without citation, that is, facts most readers would already know, and facts available from a wide variety of sources, for instance, the date of D-Day or the name of the previous U.S. President. Common knowledge is distinguished from a unique set of words or a unique idea.”The New St. Martin’s Handbook 495 (4th ed., 1999).
The following examples are illustrative only. Numerous others could be provided.
Examples of Plagiarism
- Using someone else’s words without quotation marks.
- Using someone else’s words without quotation marks even if you footnote or attribute the source.
- Turning in a rough or final draft of a work product that includes material cut and pasted from other sources without proper attribution or quotation marks.
- Paraphrasing without acknowledgement.
- Representing another person’s work (including that of another student or former student) as your own.
3.3 Unauthorized Collaboration
Unauthorized collaboration involves working with others in the production of a work product without prior authorization from the professor.
Students must work independently on all course assignments and exams, unless they have prior approval to collaborate. Students may share work products only up to the point that their professor authorizes teamwork.
This section is not intended to cover study groups, working together to prepare study aids, or otherwise collaborating in order to better understand the course material or prepare for an exam. Such collaboration is encouraged. This section bars unauthorized collaboration in relation to a work product that is going to be turned in, whether for credit or no credit.
- Providing, receiving or using instant messaging or other communication devices to provide unauthorized assistance to another student who is on-call.
- Working with classmates, attorneys or other outside resources to complete an assignment without the approval of the professor.
- Undertaking any acts that exceed the outside assistance permitted by the professor.
- Receiving assistance on research or writing from students or other outside resources when not specifically permitted by the professor.
- Working with another student or students, or obtaining other outside assistance, on a take-home exam when such collaboration is not permitted.
3.4 Multiple Submission of Work Product (“Double-Dipping”)
Multiple submission of work product (“double-dipping”) is submitting substantially the same work product in more than one course without prior authorization from the professor.
To obtain credit for any course, a student must do original work equivalent to the work demanded for the credits awarded to that course. A student who has submitted work product for one course may not submit, in substance, that same work in another course. For example, a student who completes a research paper on a topic for one course cannot use substantially the same paper for another course, even if the topic would be appropriate.
Under certain circumstances: (1) students may use research completed for a moot court competition or clinical course as the basis for a research paper in an academic course with prior approval of the professor, and (2) a student may expand upon a shorter research assignment completed in one course provided the professor in the second course is given a copy of the prior paper and gives his or her approval.
3.5 Other Dishonest Behavior
Other dishonest behavior includes but is not limited to:
- Providing false or misleading information to a professor or law school official or in any other way misrepresenting the reasons why one is unprepared, cannot participate in class, or is unable to complete the requirements for a class.
- Appropriating or interfering with the work of others, including removing, altering, destroying or concealing any library or other relevant law school material.
- Providing false or misleading information or records to the University or law school in an admission or scholarship application, a job resume or job application, or any other document to be used to assess a student’s qualifications.
- Forging or using any law school document or record in an unauthorized manner.
- Seeking to invade privacy by gaining access to another student’s social security number, campus ID number, blind grading ID number, resume, records, or grades.
During the student’s orientation to law school, each student will acknowledge a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), attesting that he or she has read and agreed to abide by the Academic Integrity Policy. An electronic copy of this MOU will be maintained by Law Student Services.
Students will be given training on proper attribution and citation in their Legal Analysis, Research and Writing class. In addition, students will be responsible for learning and using rules on proper attribution and citation throughout law school.
The School of Law reserves the right to use electronic means to detect and help prevent plagiarism. By submitting work product to law school personnel, students consent to have the work product submitted to Turnitin.com’s restricted access database or similar database. This submission is solely for the purpose of detecting plagiarism.
Reports of suspected violations of this policy will be forwarded to the senior assistant dean for student services according to the procedure below. Professors may, at their discretion, consult with students directly, but, if a professor concludes that an intentional or substantial violation has occurred, he or she must, at the conclusion of these conversations, report the suspected incident to the administration along with his or her findings and recommendations. The determination of whether to classify the violation as intentional or substantial is within the professor’s discretion. If the professor is uncertain as to how to categorize a violation, he or she should consult with the senior assistant dean for student services.
Once a report of suspected violation of this policy is made, the procedures detailed below will be followed.
- Initial proceedings before the senior assistant dean for student services
Any person may refer allegations of violation of these rules, orally or in writing, to the senior assistant dean for student services, who has the sole authority to initiate proceedings hereunder. If the senior assistant dean decides to initiate proceedings, he or she shall either resolve the matter or refer the matter for hearing to (a) the Panel on Student Conduct or (b) an outside hearing officer appointed for that purpose. If forwarded to the Panel on Student Conduct or to an outside hearing officer, the protocol detailed in the Addendum will apply.
In resolving the matter, other than by its dismissal, the senior assistant dean shall provide the accused student an opportunity to respond in writing to the allegations. The senior assistant dean may impose any of the sanctions authorized by these rules or make such other disposition as is deemed appropriate. Formal suspension or dismissal shall be noted in student’s official record and will be reported to the Bar. The senior assistant dean shall determine whether or not other sanctions shall be noted in the student’s official record and whether the violation will be reported to the Bar.
If the accused student disagrees with the senior assistant dean’s resolution of the matter, a hearing before the Panel on Student Conduct shall be convened at the student’s written request. This request must be received by the senior assistant dean within 15 days of written notice of the disposition. The hearing is de novo.
Before final action on an alleged violation, the senior assistant dean may take any appropriate action on an interim basis when there is reasonable cause to believe that such action is needed to avoid disruption of the academic process. Written notice of action hereunder shall be given expeditiously. When interim action is taken, the disciplinary process shall proceed expeditiously.
2. Report of disciplinary procedures
The senior assistant dean for student services shall issue separate reports to the faculty and student body describing the disposition of matters arising hereunder, not including the names of the parties. These reports will be issued at the beginning of each semester and will provide information about violations of this Policy during the preceding relevant period. These reports shall be available for general inspection at the office of the assistant dean.
6. Discipline and Sanctions
Violating the Academic Integrity Policy is a serious matter. If a violation is proven, the faculty and/or administration may impose severe academic or institutional sanctions or both. These sanctions could affect a grade or academic credit or result in suspension or expulsion from the law school.
Possible sanctions include:
- Informal warning: oral or written notice to the student that a future violation of this policy will be cause for disciplinary action as herein provided.
- Exclusion from activities: exclusion from participation in designated classes or activities for a specified period.
- Censure: written reprimand for a violation of this policy.
- Grade reduction at professor’s discretion: denial of course credit by mandated withdrawal or failing grade (“No Credit” or “F”) or grade reduction on the assignment in question or the course as a whole.
- Formal suspension: termination of student status for a specified period.
- Dismissal: permanent termination of student status.
- Any other sanction appropriate to the violation.
Remedies provided herein are not exclusive of the right of a faculty member to make his or her own determination of grades.
7. Violation of the Academic Integrity Policy and Bar Admission
Qualities of honesty and integrity are crucial to the practice of law and therefore are carefully scrutinized by bar examiners. To be admitted to the bar in any jurisdiction, an applicant has the burden of demonstrating that he or she is of “good moral character.”
According to California State Bar, Rules of the State Bar, Rule 4.40 (2008): “ ‘Good moral character’ includes but is not limited to qualities of honesty, fairness, candor, trustworthiness, observance of fiduciary responsibility, respect for and obedience to the law, and respect for the rights of others and the judicial process.”
A student’s conduct in law school may result in denial or delay of admission to the Bar. As noted by California State Bar, Factors Regarding Moral Character Determination: “An act of misconduct may include, but is not limited to violations of a school’s honor code that involve moral turpitude….” Santa Clara Law School reports all violations of its policy involving moral turpitude to State Bar admission officials.
In 1990, the California Legislature enacted a statute expressly dealing with conduct in violation of law school rules. According to Business & Professions Code Section 6060.1: Violations of university or law school rules; use in denying admission to practice law:
(a) Any disciplinary action taken against an individual at a university or an accredited law school for violation of university or law school rules of conduct shall not be used as the sole basis for denying the individual admission to practice law in the State of California.
(b) This section shall not apply to university or law school violations which involve moral turpitude or that result in criminal prosecution under the laws of the State of California or any other state. [Emphasis added.]
In addition to reporting by the law school, all bar applicants must themselves report any discipline imposed upon them while in school. American Bar Association, Model Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 8.1; California Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 1-200(A). A failure to disclose relevant information can be the basis for denial of admission. According to the California State Bar, Statement on Moral Character Requirement: “An applicant’s candidness in revealing any moral character related problems when completing the moral character application is extremely important and will serve to expedite the processing of an application. Lack of candor in and of itself as it relates to moral character problems, past and present, may be enough to deny certification on moral character grounds.”
An applicant who has succeeded in being admitted to the Bar despite his or her failure to disclose serious law school discipline may be disbarred when the Bar later learns about the nondisclosures.
Formal Hearing Procedure and Mediation
- Panel on Student Conduct
Each year the dean shall appoint seven persons (faculty and students) to serve as members of the Panel on Student Conduct. The dean shall appoint one member to chair the panel. When a hearing is required, the panel chair shall appoint three members of the panel to serve as a hearing committee, designating one member as committee chair. The three-person committee shall be composed of two faculty members and one student.
The accused student shall be given written notice, within a reasonable time period prior to the hearing, including a brief statement of the factual basis of the charges, the law school policies or regulations allegedly violated, and the time and place of the hearing. The student may be represented by counsel or other representatives of the student’s choice. The law school shall be represented by the senior assistant dean for student services or his/her designate.
The student and the law school shall have the opportunity to present documents and witnesses and to confront and cross-examine witnesses. The law school shall bear the burden of proof by clear and convincing evidence. The law school shall make an adequate record of the hearing by written memorandum, tape recording, or otherwise. The hearing shall be open unless the student, the law school, or a majority of the hearing committee requests that it be closed. The hearing committee shall have the discretion to prescribe its procedures for matters not addressed herein. For example, the hearing committee may require that
a. Oral evidence shall be taken only on oath or affirmation.
b. Any relevant evidence shall be admitted if it is the sort of evidence on which responsible persons are accustomed to rely in the conduct of serious affairs, regardless of the existence of any common law or statutory rule which might make improper the admission of the evidence over objection in civil actions. Hearsay evidence may be used for the purpose of supplementing or explaining other evidence but shall not be sufficient in itself to support a finding unless it would be admissible over objection in civil actions. The hearing committee may impose any of the sanctions authorized by these rules or make such other disposition as is deemed appropriate. The hearing committee’s disposition shall indicate whether or not the sanctions other than formal suspension or dismissal shall be noted on the student’s transcript. If the student does not appeal the hearing committee’s disposition as described below, such disposition will be final.
- Appeal to the Dean
A disciplined student may appeal the decision of the hearing committee to the dean of the law school in writing. Appeal must be made within 30 days of the date of the decision.
On appeal, the dean shall review the written decision of the hearing committee. The dean may reverse the hearing committee’s findings, or reduce the sanctions it imposed, only if he/she strongly disagrees with the committee’s decision. The dean may not assess a greater sanction than that imposed by the committee.
The dean shall issue a written decision affirming or overruling the findings and/or modifying the sanction of the hearing committee. A copy shall be sent to the student and the committee members. If the dean overrules or modifies in any respect the decision of the committee, the written decision shall include the reasons for this action. The dean’s decision is final.
At any time before the start of a hearing concerning a violation of this policy, the senior assistant dean for student services or the individual(s) involved may request mediation. Both the senior assistant dean and the individual(s) must agree to the mediation. The mediation shall be informal and confidential. A mediator may be chosen jointly by the parties from a list of (a) law school faculty who have volunteered to be part of the mediation process or (b) qualified members of the University community. The mediator may also be any other person agreed upon by the parties. If the matter is not resolved to the satisfaction of the parties within a reasonable time, the alleged violation will be processed pursuant to the procedures in sections 2 and 3 above.