I am at a competitive private university and have recently been charged with an academic dishonesty violation. I have a hearing before a board of three faculty members and two students. I am worried because there is a large discrepancy between the teaching assistant's story and my own. She insists I showed her a fake test to try to increase my grade on an exam significantly. I am not sure how to best prove my innocence other than showing my actual exam which the Office is skeptical of because it does not agree with the TA's story. I am wondering if I should have counsel represent me at the hearing. I do not want to antagonize the university by bringing lawyers if not needed at the hearing itself. Any advice? Thank you.
Education Law Attorney
Yes you should have a lawyer present, because of the host of consequenses of loosing; forfieture of tuition, the witholding of your transcripts, academic suspension, expulsion or worse. A charge of dishonesty is one that likely may impact the rest of your carrer.
Whereas I understand your reluctance to antagonize, do you personally want to be in the position of cross-examining the TA who apparently is the only fact witness in this matter? I recomend you hire someone familiar with your university's justice process.
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Administrative Law Lawyer
You absolutely need counsel. The university will utilize counsel (perhaps behind the scenes) and it has far less on the line than you do. Skilled and effective counsel know that antagonism of the university is usually not the best strategy. You need an attorney who has the experience and skill to strike the right note of outrage at what you are being put through and constructive efforts to remediate the situation. You can come in and talk with my partners and if you like -- no charge for the first hour -- we are in Pasadena and experienced with all of the local academic institutions. But, whether you choose my firm or another, you must have counsel. The forward ramifications of this kind of matter can be virtually endless and you cannot deal effectively on your own behalf in this situation. Potentially offending the institution is not the most critical of the possible results of this situation!
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Employment / Labor Attorney
You have too much at stake not to hire an attorney to represent you. In my exeperience, having an attorney sends a signal to the school that you are serious and intend to fight the allegation. This may convince the school that it would be easier to administer a less harsh finding rather than invite a legal fight.