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Should I have an attorney represent me at an academic conduct hearing?

Pasadena, CA |

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.

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Attorney answers 3

Best Answer
Posted

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.

Good Luck

This answer contains information intended only for the use of the individual or entity named above and may be protected by attorney-client privilege or work product doctorine. However, the mere receipt of this answer, alone, is not sufficient to create an attorney-client relationship. If the reader of this is not the intended recipient or the employee or agent responsible for delivering it to the intended recipient, any dissemination, publication or copying of this answerer is strictly prohibited. The sender does not accept any responsibility for any loss, disruption or damage to your data or computer system that may occur while using data contained in, or transmitted with, this answer. Should the reader have any questions please feel free to contact Attorney Kotler at TBKotler@sbcglobal.net or 330-777-0065 Thank you

Posted

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!

My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as legal advice. I give legal advice only in the course of an attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by individual consultation and execution of a written agreement for legal services.

Asker

Posted

What about if the private university specifically forbids attorneys? The clause from the charter states, "You have a right to an advisor who is a member of the University in good standing. Your advisor is not an advocate and may not speak on your behalf throughout the disciplinary process. An advisor is a source of personal and moral support and explanation." Sounds like the university wants to shut down the students representation rights.

Todd Bruce Kotler

Todd Bruce Kotler

Posted

Right, better they should be offended and you still be their student. I'd go to see Attorney Mccall's firm were I you.

Asker

Posted

I will probably do that since I need counsel anyways. I just really wanted representation since at these hearings, a legal representative from the school presents evidence/witnesses/investigative manners against you and I wasn't even sure how to go about this since the university is explicit in their policies. Just wondering if someone had experience in bypassing or working with such clauses.

Christine C McCall

Christine C McCall

Posted

An "advisor" is different than "counsel" or "representation." An attorney can object to any denial of the right to representation and the university will either accede and allow you to be represented or they run a very high risk that any administrative result will not be upheld. In some instances, a court order to require that you be allowed to have representation will issue.

Christine C McCall

Christine C McCall

Posted

If you email me privately and identify the school, along with your hearing date, I can probably say more on this specific issue: Christine.McCall@LicenseAdvocates.com

Posted

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.

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