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Professional Conduct


Disciplinary Procedure in the College of Law (subject to approval of item 24)

All matters concerning academic or other forms of misconduct are referred to the dean's Office for resolution. Any unresolved matters may be referred to the appropriate forum including but not limited to the university Judicial Office, the Ombudsman, and the Office of Affirmative Action.


Sexual Harassment Policy

Sexual harassment is defined as behavior which emphasizes the sexuality or sexual identity of another individual in a manner which prevents or impairs the victim's full enjoyment of educational opportunities. Unwanted, offensive behavior of a sexual nature is one way that a person can exercise power and status over another.

Whether in the classroom, in the work place, or in campus activities, sexual harassment can threaten the victim's educational or economic opportunities.

The university accepts the responsibility for assuring that all workers and students are able to perform their duties in an atmosphere free from sexual harassment. The university may also be responsible for the acts of non-employees, where the university knows or should have known of the conduct and fails to take immediate and appropriate corrective action. Such offensive behavior should be reported to an appropriate university official.

Harassment on the basis of sex is a violation of Section 703 of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Sections 1-102 and 5A-101 et seq. of the Illinois Human Rights Act. Sexual harassment, considered by law to be a form of sex discrimination, is also prohibited under Title IX of the 1972 Educational Amendments. Sexual harassment constitutes professional misconduct and can result in dismissal.

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Academic Regulations and Policies and Student Conduct

As prospective attorneys, law students are expected to adhere to the highest ethical standards. Specific rules of conduct govern students at the College of Law and have implications for character and fitness upon application to the bar.

College of Law Rule of Professional Conduct

It is professional misconduct for a member of the law school to (1) engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation; or (2) engage in conduct that is proscribed by law and that reflects adversely on the member's honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness to practice law in other respects.

COMMENT:

The College of Law is an academic and professional institution integrally connected to the academic community of Northern Illinois University and closely tied to the organized profession of law. The members of the college, faculty, and students have adopted this Rule of Professional Conduct to recognize within the college the academic and professional values of the larger communities of which we are a part. The Rule is a mandatory rule of conduct, violations of which may subject a member to appropriate sanctions. Mindful that no rules of conduct are completely self-executing, all members of the college community should give serious attention not only to their individual obligations to comply with the Rule but also to their collective responsibility for ensuring compliance and initiating any necessary enforcement.

With respect to the substantive content of the mandatory rule, Clause One incorporates the general professional rule on honesty and trustworthiness as well as a prohibition of all forms of academic misconduct. Without limiting the reach of the foregoing, academic misconduct includes plagiarism, unauthorized collaboration, the use of unauthorized material in connection with any paper or examination, misuse of materials, including the secreting of library resources or the unauthorized use of library resources such as computerized research facilities, and other forms of academic misconduct. Other forms of dishonest conduct beyond what is usually thought of as academic would include, for example, misrepresentation in law school admissions proceedings or misrepresentations in connection with seeking professional employment.

Beyond dishonesty and academic misconduct, society has identified other conduct that interferes with community needs and may violate the dignity and rights of other people. Clause Two addresses such conduct, although the reference is to the proscribed behavior as such and does not presuppose any formal adjudication of criminality or illegality. While members of the college are, of course, personally answerable to the entire criminal law, they are professionally answerable within the college only for conduct that indicates lack of those characteristics relevant to membership in this academic and professional community–-“fitness to practice law” in this formulation. Certain kinds of conduct may be offensive to some, but may only reflect immaturity, inappropriate responses to the pressures of professional education, or simply the diversity of ages and background of community members. When

combined with legally proscribed conduct, however, such as destruction of property or harassing use of the telephone or the mails, and when engaged in with disregard for the dignity and rights of others, such conduct may raise serious questions of professional character, fitness, and continued membership in the academic and professional community, questions appropriate for a community response. On the other hand, some criminalized conduct raises no direct implication of dishonesty, disregard for individual dignity and rights, or fitness to practice law in other respects and is, accordingly, not appropriate for community sanction. This part of the Rule seeks to limit sanctions to conduct directly relevant to the college’s academic and professional goals.

The Rule, like all rules, is one of reason. It should be interpreted and applied in light of this Comment, which is an integral part of the Rule, and in view of the Rule and Comment’s purpose--the maintenance and development of a thriving academic and professional community. Sanctions and procedures for enforcement raise separate questions not addressed by the Rule. Further, it is noted that conduct in violation of this Rule may also violate other rules, such as those embodied in the Judicial Code of Northern Illinois and law generally. Likewise, some conduct not covered by this Rule may be covered by the university Judicial Code or other law. While a certain emphasis on questions of deviations from the Rule is inevitable, the larger spirit behind the Rule should always be kept in mind: namely, the creation at the college of a community of scholars and lawyers committed to the best traditions and values of academic pursuits and the profession of law.

Continuing Obligation to Disclose Information

In addition to the above policies, all students are reminded that in order to comply with state bar examiners’ character and fitness requirements for admission to the bar, all students attending the College of Law have a continuing obligation to disclose immediately any and all circumstances and events, occurring after the date of submission of their applications until the date of their graduations, which may bear on their character and fitness to join the Bar. This information includes, but is not limited to, circumstances surrounding the four questions listed below that are asked on the College of Law application for admission.

  1. Have you ever been subjected to dismissal, suspension, probation, or other disciplinary or academic sanction by any college, university, professional school, or professional association?
  1. In a paid or volunteer employment setting, have you ever been accused of misconduct, disciplined, permitted to resign in lieu of discipline or discharge, discharged or permitted or requested, formally or informally, to resign from or terminate employment?
  1. Have you ever, including when you were a juvenile, been formally or informally detained, restrained, cited, summoned into court, taken into custody, arrested, accused, convicted, placed on probation, placed on supervision, or forfeited collateral in connection with any offense against the law or an ordinance, or accused of committing a delinquent act?
  1. Have you ever been charged with a traffic violation involving felonious conduct or the use of or possession of alcohol or drugs which resulted in time spent in custody, a fine of $200 or more, or the revocation or suspension of your driver’s license?

These disclosures should be made in writing to the associate dean for Student Services.

Student's Authorship of Written Work

A student's submission of written work is deemed to certify his or her exclusive authorship without any assistance not specifically authorized by the professor. Any piece of student work may earn credit in only one course, unless submission in more than one course is approved by all instructors involved.

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Procedural Guidelines for Enforcing the NIU College of Law Rule of Professional Conduct

Procedures Relating to Academic or Other Professional Misconduct by a Student

DISCIPLINARY PROCEDURE

I. Academic or other Professional Misconduct by a Student in a Course or Co-Curricular Activity.

If a member of the College of Law has reasonable grounds to believe that academic or other professional misconduct has occurred in a course or co-curricular activity, the member must report that fact to the faculty member teaching the course or supervising the activity or to the associate dean of Student Services.

A. If a faculty member has reasonable grounds to believe that a student has committed academic or other professional misconduct, the faculty member must request a review of the matter by the associate dean for Student Services. If a review is requested, the associate dean for Student Services shall investigate and make a decision as to whether misconduct, as defined in the Rule of Professional Conduct (Rule), has occurred and what the sanction, if any, should be.

B. If both the student and the relevant faculty member teaching or supervising the student when the alleged misconduct occurred agree with the associate dean’s decision that no sanction be imposed, the associate dean for Student Services reports the decision informally to the dean, but no report is placed in the student’s official record at the college. If all parties agree to the decision but sanctions are imposed, the associate dean for Student Services reports the decision to the dean, and the report is placed in the student’s record, with a copy sent to the student and the faculty member involved. 

C. In the event the matter cannot be resolved to the satisfaction of both the student and the faculty member following the associate dean for Student Services’ decision, the matter will go before the dean for a decision.

D. If the matter cannot be resolved to the satisfaction of both the student and the faculty member following the dean’s review of the matter, either party may request a hearing before the NIU College of Law disciplinary committee (committee). See III infra.

II. Academic or Other Professional Misconduct by a Student Occurring Outside a Course or Co-Curricular Activity.

If a member of the College of Law has reasonable grounds to believe that academic or other professional misconduct has occurred outside of a course or co-curricular activity, the member must report that fact to the associate dean for Student Services.

A. Upon receiving such a report of academic or other professional misconduct, the associate dean for Student Services shall investigate and make a decision regarding the matter. 

B. If all relevant parties agree to the decision that no sanction be imposed, the associate dean for Student Services reports the decision informally to the dean, but no report is placed in the student’s record. If all parties agree to the decision, but sanctions are imposed, the associate dean for Student Services reports the decision to the dean, and the report is placed in the student’s record, with a copy sent to the student(s) and any other relevant parties.

C. In the event the matter cannot be resolved to the satisfaction of both the student and the complaining party following the associate dean for Student Services’ decision, the matter will go before the dean for a decision.

D. If the matter cannot be resolved to the satisfaction of both the student and the complaining party, following the dean’s review of the matter, either party may request a hearing before the committee. See III infra.  

III. Academic or Other Professional Misconduct Hearing Process 

A. In the event a hearing is requested, that request must be presented, in writing, to the chair of the disciplinary committee. This request must be submitted within ten (10) calendar days of being notified of the final decision of the dean.

B. Within ten (10) days of receipt of a written request for a hearing, the committee chair shall decide upon a date and time for the hearing and provide written notice to all relevant parties and the dean.

C. The College of Law faculty, library faculty, legal writing instructors, and clinical faculty are eligible to serve on the disciplinary committee. Each year, when new committees are appointed for the academic year, the dean will select three (3) faculty and two (2) student members of the committee as well as two (2) alternate faculty members. The dean will designate one member of the committee as the chair.

D. committee members may recuse themselves, and committee members directly involved in the matter must do so. Following any such recusal, the dean shall select alternate members to serve on the committee for purposes of the hearing.

E. The hearing shall be closed to all but the committee members, the student(s), and the faculty member/complaining party. The committee may request witnesses for statements and questioning but such witnesses may be present only while testifying.

F. The person requesting the hearing bears the burden of production of evidence and persuasion of the committee. No formal rules of evidence apply to the hearing process, and the committee may decide for itself any questions of relevance and the scope of its inquiry. 

G. Within ten (10) calendar days following the conclusion of the hearing, the committee chair shall issue the committee’s written decision as to whether misconduct, as defined in the Rule, has occurred and what the sanction, if any, should be.

H. The decision will be sent to the student and the faculty member/complaining party via email and first-class mail and to the associate dean for Student Services and the dean via email.

I. All information regarding any hearing is to be kept confidential.

J. The committee decision is final. 

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Procedure Relating to Misconduct Not Governed by the NIU College of Law Rule of Professional Conduct

Any misconduct not covered by the college’s Rule of Professional Conduct (academic and other professional misconduct) but subject to the university’s Code of Judicial Conduct should be reported to the associate dean for Student Services, who may refer the matter to the university’s Office of Community Standards and Student Conduct. 

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