The School of Law treats compliance with the Honor Code as each student’s most serious obligation. Every student is responsible for being aware of the provisions of the Code. In familiarizing yourself with the standards to which you will be held, you should keep in mind that the University’s Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities is an integral part of the School of Law’s Honor Code; as set forth in the Preamble immediately below. For example, the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities contains an explicit definition of what constitutes plagiarism, and a violation of that provision is, per force, a violation of the School of Law’s Honor Code. The Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities is available in this handbook and on the University’s website.
Each year, the number of Honor Code proceedings varies. These matters include issues of:
- Students signing attendance sheets when they have not been in full attendance in class;
- Discussing assignments with classmates when they were instructed to work on their own; and
- Providing unauthorized assistance to other students, including collaboration on take-home exams.
Most Honor Code violations involve plagiarism, usually quoting passages from law review articles or other materials without proper attribution. Technology makes it readily possible for faculty members reviewing papers and other academic assignments (including exams) to identify such plagiarism.
Each situation is unique, and the sanctions vary accordingly. Sanctions in recent years have included a reprimand and probation, suspension, permanent expulsion, loss of scholarships, removal from leadership and membership in student organizations, deferral of graduation, and not being allowed to participate in the graduation ceremony. A finding of an Honor Code violation (no matter how minor) remains in the student’s permanent record and will be reported to the board of bar admissions as part of the character and fitness documentation. Some states require disclosure of Honor Code accusations even if the student is ultimately acquitted or charges are dropped. In Kentucky, if the Honor Council finds reasonable cause, regardless of the final outcome, it will be reported to the Office of Bar Admissions.
In short, members of the legal profession hold a high position of trust. Their conduct—and yours, as you take your initial steps in joining the profession as students at the School of Law—must be at the highest level of integrity. That begins with the Honor Code.
As members of the University community and as future members of the legal profession, we recognize the need to set and maintain the highest standards of conduct. The University has set minimum standards of student conduct in various policy statements including, but not limited to the Code of Student Conduct and the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities. The standards of academic conduct established by the University, as well as those established by Article I, shall constitute the Honor Code, and shall be applicable to the students in the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville.
Article I. Standard of Conduct
- A student who knowingly does any of the following may be disciplined under this Honor Code:
- Violating any standard of academic conduct established by University policy. See Appendix 4, Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities. [Plagiarism is included in the Code of Student Rights and Responsibilities as one of several examples of academic dishonesty. It is defined as:
"Representing the words or ideas of someone else as one's own in any academic exercise, such as:
- Submitting as one’s own a paper written by another person or by a commercial ‘ghost writing service’.
- Exactly reproducing someone else's words without identifying the words with quotation marks or by appropriate indentation, or without properly citing the quotation in a footnote or reference.
- Paraphrasing or summarizing someone else's work without acknowledging the source with a footnote or reference.
- Using facts, data, graphs, charts, or other information without acknowledging the source with a footnote or reference. Borrowed facts or information obtained in one's research or reading must be acknowledged unless they are ‘common knowledge’. Clear examples of ‘common knowledge’ include the names of leaders of prominent nations, basic scientific laws, and the meaning of fundamental concepts and principles in a discipline. The specific audience for which a paper is written may determine what can be viewed as ‘common knowledge’: for example, the facts commonly known by a group of chemists will differ radically from those known by a more general audience. Students should check with their teachers regarding what can be viewed as ‘common knowledge’ within a specific field or assignment, but often the student will have to make the final judgment. When in doubt, footnotes or references should be used."]
- Taking an exam in an unauthorized location.
- Taking or using the notes, books, papers, or other materials of another student without permission.
- Reporting false information for any academic exercise.
- Misrepresenting or distorting academic or biographical data, either in writing or orally, in the employment search process.
- Misrepresenting or distorting academic or biographical data in connection with an application for honors, scholarships, journal membership, or awards.
- Misrepresenting class attendance.
- Hiding library or placement materials for the purpose of obtaining an unfair academic or economic advantage for oneself and/or any other person.
- Removing library or placement materials, except in compliance with established procedures, for the purpose of obtaining an unfair academic or economic advantage for oneself and/or any other person.
- Using a student Westlaw or Lexis account for unauthorized academic purposes.
- Taking an exam for or completing an assignment for another student.
- Misrepresenting information to postpone exams or assignment deadlines.
- Disclosing the content of an exam to a student who is scheduled to take the same exam.
- Refusing an Honor Council request to appear as a witness before the Honor Council or refusing to produce materials to the Honor Council.
- Refusing to sign an accurate written complaint of an alleged Honor Code violation.
- Failing to report a violation of the Honor Code.
- Engaging in any other dishonest conduct involving academic endeavors.
- "Knowingly" denotes actual knowledge of the fact in question. A person's knowledge may be inferred from circumstances.
- University policies governing non-academic conduct are normally administered by the Vice President for Student Affairs, not the Honor Council, but the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law retains the right to determine whether a student who has violated these policies is fit to continue at the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law.
Article II. Enforcement
- Enforcement Machinery
- The Honor Council
The Provisions of this Honor Code shall be administered by the Honor Council.
- Composition of the Honor Council
- The Honor Council shall consist of five members and four alternates.
- There shall be three members and two alternates from the third or fourth year classes, and two members and one alternate from the second year class of the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law. The Honor Council shall elect one of the members to act as Chair.
- If for any reason there is a permanent vacancy on the Honor Council, the first alternate shall become an active member. In the case of the two senior class alternates, the first alternate shall be the one with the most votes in the election in which the present Honor Council was elected, or otherwise determined by the remaining members of the Honor Council.
- Selection of Members and of Alternates of the Honor Council
- All elections shall be by secret ballot and shall be conducted under the auspices of the Student Bar Association, subject to the election procedures of the Honor Council.
- To be a candidate for the Honor Council, one must be in good academic standing.
- Service of Members and of Alternates on the Honor Council
- Any student who is not enrolled in or is not in good academic standing at the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law during any fall or spring semester shall be terminated from the office of the Honor Council.
- The five members shall serve as the body to hear matters brought before the Honor Council, and to recommend appropriate action to the Dean.
- Disqualification and Substitution of Alternates in a Particular Case
- Any member who discovers a conflict of interest in a particular matter, or is unable to attend all of the hearings for that case shall disqualify himself or herself from that case. A member has a conflict of interest when the member discovers a significant risk of material limitation. A conflict of interest may occur when a member has a close personal relationship with the accused or complainant. The Special Counsel or the accused may also petition the Honor Council to disqualify a member for a particular case if a conflict of interest exists.
- Upon disqualification, the alternate from the same class as the member shall serve in his or her place for the remainder of the sessions on the particular matter from which the member was absent or disqualified.
- If the regular member is unable to serve for any reason in any case, one of the remaining alternates is to serve instead for that case.
- Internal Organization and Operation of the Honor Council
The Honor Council shall have the power:
- To enact needed rules and regulations for the operation of the Honor Council which are not inconsistent with this Honor Code; and
- To propose amendments to the Honor Code as it is determined necessary.
- Enforcement Procedure
- Anyone who obtains credible knowledge that a violation has occurred shall report the alleged violation to a member of the Honor Council or the Assistant Dean for Student Life in an oral or written complaint. Except under extraordinary circumstances, the report shall be made within a reasonable amount of time not to exceed three weeks after gaining knowledge of the alleged violation(s). The complainant who made an oral report shall submit to the Honor Council a signed, detailed report of the allegations.
- The written complaint shall contain a statement of the facts forming the basis of the complaint including, but not limited to, the name of the accused, the time and place of the incident, and the name(s) of any witness(es).
- After alleging a violation the complainant should avoid discussion of the alleged violationwith persons other than members of the Honor Council, the Special Counsel, and the accused.
- Reasonable Cause Determination
- The Honor Council shall meet to determine if there is reasonable cause to believe there has been a violation of this Honor Code.
- Except in extraordinary circumstances, the hearing shall be held within seven days after receipt of the written complaint. In no event, however, shall the hearing be held later than thirty days after the receipt of the written complaint.
- The Honor Council shall determine if the accused, the complainant and /or any other witness(es) shall be present.
- The Honor Council shall determine by majority vote whether reasonable cause exists to believe the accused violated the Honor Code.
- If the Honor Council determines no reasonable cause exists, it shall immediately dismiss the complaint. Notice of the dismissal shall be given only to the complainant, and, if the accused attended the reasonable cause hearing, to the accused.
- Notice to the Accused
If the Honor Council determines that reasonable cause exists, it shall notify, in writing, the complainant, the Assistant Dean for Student Life, and the Special Counsel of the charges as soon as possible. The notification shall advise the accused of the hearing, as described in Article II (2)(h). The accused, Special Counsel, and Assistant Dean for Student Life shall each receive a copy of the complaint, any supporting documents, and the reasonable cause notice.
- Following a determination that reasonable cause exists, the accused, the Honor Council, the Special Counsel, and the Assistant Dean for Student Life should be noticed on all correspondence between the parties.
- Within ten days following the receipt of such notice, the accused may:
- Move to dismiss the complaint;
- Request a more definite statement; and
- Stipulate to the Honor Code violation alleged in the complaint.
If the accused files a motion or request, the hearing shall be postponed at least five days after the Honor Council rules on the motion or request. Upon receipt of a motion to dismiss, the Honor Council shall determine by majority vote whether reasonable cause still exists to believe that the accused violated the Honor Code.
- The Special Counsel may move to dismiss the complaint at any time.
- Throughout the pendency of an Honor Code complaint, the Assistant Dean for Student Life may provide general procedural advice to the Honor Council, the Special Counsel, and the accused. The Assistant Dean for Student Life may also generally advise the Honor Council, Special Counsel, and the accused regarding sanctions in previous Honor Code proceedings, without disclosing any names.
- The Hearing shall be conducted using the following procedure:
- The Dean shall appoint a full-time member of the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law faculty or law library faculty as a Special Counsel to present the case to the Honor Council. Appointment of the Special Counsel may occur either before or after the case is commenced. The Assistant Dean for Student Life shall take reasonable measures to avoid conflicts of interest.
- The Assistant Dean and the Special Counsel shall not have any communication with the Dean, with reference to the case, so long as the case remains unresolved.
- The accused may retain and be represented by counsel.
- The Honor Council shall hold the hearing between ten and twenty days after notification of the accused unless the hearing is postponed under Article II (2)(e). The Chair of the Honor Council may set a later hearing date for good cause.
- The hearing shall be conducted as follows:
- The Chair of the Honor Council or designate shall preside at the hearing, and shall have discretion regarding the conduct of the hearing. Formal rules of evidence shall not apply.
- The Special Counsel shall present the case to the Honor Council. The accused shall have the opportunity to respond to the charges.
- The Special Counsel and the accused may call witnesses and cross-examine opposing witnesses. The Honor Council may question the complainant, the accused or any witness.
- Upon its own initiative or upon request of either the Special Counsel or the accused, the Honor Council may request witnesses to appear before it or may request materials be produced to it.
- The hearing shall be closed to all but those authorized by the Honor Council. Honor Council matters are to be treated as confidential for all individuals participating.
- If the accused stipulated to a violation under Article II §2 e(iii), the Council shall hold a hearing to determine what sanction, if any, to recommend.
- Determination of an Honor Code Violation
- At the close of the proceeding, the Honor Council shall vote by secret ballot to determine its recommendation(s).
- A member shall vote that there has been a violation if he or she believes that such violationb has occurred by a preponderance of the evidence.
- If a majority of the Honor Council finds a violation, the Honor Council shall then recommend an appropriate sanction, if any.
- Report to the Dean
At the close of the Honor Council hearing, the Honor Council shall have 14 days to report its finding to the Dean, which shall include the vote of the Honor Council and any dissenting opinions, and it shall recommend the course of action for the Dean to take. The findings shall be written, signed, and dated. A copy will be forwarded to the accused.
- Decision of the Dean
The Dean shall review the findings and recommendations of the Honor Council and shall render a final decision within forty-five days of receipt of the Honor Council's recommendations. The written decision shall be delivered to the accused and be made available to the Chair of the Honor Council, the Assistant Dean for Student Life, and the Special Counsel. A file of record will be made of all Honor Council violations.
- If the Dean determines that a violation has occurred, he or she may impose one or more of the following sanctions, as the Dean deems appropriate:
- Noting the violation in the student's file;
- Removing the student from organizations and extracurricular activities such as the Student Bar Association, law journals, Moot Court Board, skills competitions, the Honor Council, and the Brandeis Society;
- Requiring law-related public service at an approved placement, as defined by and in addition to the graduation requirements of the Samuel L. Greenebaum Public Service Program.
- Placing the student on probation for a time certain;
- Suspending the student from law school classes for a time certain;
- Dismissing the student; and
- The Dean may impose any other sanction, so long as the Special Counsel and the accused have a reasonable opportunity to express their views on it.
- If the Dean concludes that a violation occurred in connection with a specific law school course, the Dean shall notify the course instructor of the violation. The disposition of any Honor Code violation involving a law school course is independent from a student's grade in that course. The course instructor has the discretion to lower the accused’s grade, including, but not limited to, changing the grade to an F in response to an Honor Code violation, regardless of whether the resolution of the Honor Code proceeding occurs after the ordinary time for grade changes under Chapter III, Part G of the Student Handbook. All violations of the Honor Code will be reported as part of the character and fitness certification in the bar examination process.
- The Law School shall not award a degree while an Honor Code proceeding is pending.
- Restriction of the Honor Council
The Honor Council shall under no circumstances individually engage in investigation or discussion concerning any case pending before it.
- Public Notice of Violations and Sanctions
- Without disclosing any names, the Assistant Dean for Student Life shall be able to publish the findings of the Honor Council, as a notice contained only items (i)-(iii) of this subsection, for the student body at appropriate times and places, including orientation. For this purpose, the outgoing Chair shall distribute to the Assistant Dean for Student Life the following:
- The findings of reasonable cause of the violation of a specific section of the Honor Code;
- The findings of violation and recommendation by the Honor Council; and
- The final dispositions by the Dean.
- Without disclosing any names, the outgoing Chair shall prepare a report for the faculty that states only the following:
- The number of complaints reported during the semester;
- The number of complaints that were resolved in a reasonable cause hearing;
- The number of alleged violations that proceeded to hearing during the semester; and
- The number of violations that resulted in sanctions.
Invalidation of any part of this Honor Code for any reason shall not affect the validity of the rest of the Honor Code.
- Effective Date
This Honor Code is effective as of November 16, 1999. Approved by the faculty on November 15, 1999. Italicized information is administrative clarification added August 22, 2003. Honor Code amended by the faculty on August 24, 2010, August 28, 2012, May 7, 2013, March 10, 2015, April 14, 2015, May 5, 2015, and August 23, 2016.