Honor Board

Students walking up steps of Preston Hall

CODE OF ETHICS

Truthfulness, honor, ethical integrity, and respect for others are essential to becoming a member of the legal profession.

MISSION

The mission of the Pace Law School Honor Board is to promote and uphold the ethical values of the legal profession. By setting and meeting high ethical standards, Pace students prepare themselves to stand alongside members of the Bar with honesty and integrity.

RESPONSIBILITIES

The Honor Board’s primary responsibilities are to work in conjunction with faculty investigators to adjudicate matters concerning academic misconduct and dishonesty by students; to increase student interest in and awareness of the ethical concerns of the legal profession; to maintain and update as necessary the school’s Honor Code; and to record Code violations and non-violations in a Case Reporter. The Honor Board operates in conjunction with the faculty members of the Academic Standing Committee.

The Honor Board continually seeks ways to improve the Law School's honor system and welcomes input from all students.

MEMBERSHIP

The Honor Board is composed of upper-class students at the Law School. This includes a board President, a Vice President of Adjudications, and a Secretary.

All students in good standing are eligible and encouraged to apply for membership on the Board during the spring of each academic year.

Join the Honor Board

  1. Why should I join the Honor Board?

    We are fortunate to have a student-run honor system at Pace Law School, and as a board member you will help maintain the honor and integrity of the law school student body. You will investigate and adjudicate suspected honor violations within the framework of the Honor Code, which is excellent statutory, prosecutorial, and trial experience.

    Please do not think that our goal is to convict and punish students. Rather, our objectives are to ensure that the procedures are conducted fairly and objectively, that the regulations are followed, that the suspected students are afforded due process, and that confidentiality is maintained throughout the process.

    The legal profession values the importance of giving back to the community. Serving on the Honor Board demonstrates a commitment to pro bono work as much as participating in a clinic or public interest program. Membership gives you the opportunity to work closely with faculty members, and is a prestigious item to have on your resume.

  2. What does the Honor Board actually do?

    We investigate alleged Honor Code violations, and work to improve the Law School ’s honor system. Specifically, the board gives presentations during orientation, conducts plagiarism discussions with the incoming classes, updates the Honor Code, maintains a website which contains the Honor Code and other relevant information, and chairs the Philip B. Blank ethics lecture series. We also form committees that focus on ways to improve the honor system and increase students’ awareness of it.

  3. When are the meetings held?

    Approximately twice a month during the academic year, on varying weekdays, from 5:00-6:00 p.m. to accommodate both day and evening students.

  4. How does the investigation process work?

    When a suspected Honor Code violation is referred to us (usually by a professor, sometimes by another student), the Vice President of Investigations appoints a committee of two Board members and one faculty member. They conduct whatever investigation is appropriate to determine if there is probable cause that a violation has occurred. If they determine that probable cause exists, then they will likely offer the student an informal resolution (similar to a plea bargain) and will determine the appropriate sanctions. 

    The entire procedure, including the appeals process, is spelled out in detail in the Honor Code and in a flowchart available to all Honor Board members. We continually strive to improve the process.

  5. What is formal adjudication?

    If the student-defendant does not want to accept the informal resolution, they can request a formal hearing (similar to a bench trial). At the hearing, the original investigating committee acts as the prosecution and a panel of three Board members and two faculty members act as judges.

  6. How will I know what to do on my first investigation?

    There will be training for new members before the spring exam period. We will make every effort to pair new Board members with experienced ones, and there is a faculty member on each committee. In addition, you can ask questions of the Vice President of Investigations, and the President, and the Honor Board’s faculty advisor. You can talk to other Board members about the procedural issues as long as you do not discuss the substance of the case or reveal any identities. The Honor Board office contains helpful materials including videotape discussions on how to conduct investigations. 

    It cannot be stressed enough that confidentiality is of the utmost importance. Even if a case is dismissed, you must never discuss it with anyone who is not on the Board, and you must never reveal the identity of a student-defendant to anyone outside of your investigative committee.

  7. How much time does Honor Board membership require?

    Investigating and adjudicating cases is our most crucial responsibility, and requires significant time and attention. Depending on how a case progresses, it can take a few days to several months to conclude. As a board member you should expect to serve on cases, to attend meetings unless there is a genuine conflict, and to perform committee work. Members who do not actively participate may be removed from the Honor Board.

    New boards takes over on May 1 of each year, and you could be asked to participate in an investigation any time after that date. When forming committees, the Vice President of Investigations will take genuine conflicts into account and will not compel you to serve on a particular investigation. And unless there are exigent circumstances, investigations are tolled during final exam periods.

  8. What are the qualifications for membership?

    You must have completed, or be completing, your first year of law school, and you must be in good academic standing.

  9. How do I apply?

    The Honor Board distributes membership applications in March of each year. Fill out an application and submit it, along with a current copy of your resume, to the board. Selected new members are notified in April.

  10. What should I do to prepare?

    Read and become familiar with the Honor Code. Think of ways that the system can be improved, and how the number of incidents of academic dishonesty can be reduced.

Policies and Internal Procedures

MISSION STATEMENT

The mission of the Pace Law School Honor Board is to promote and uphold the ethical values of the legal profession. By setting and meeting high ethical standards, Pace Law School students prepare themselves to stand alongside members of the Bar with honesty and integrity.

CONFIDENTIALITY STATEMENT

All specific charges, names, evidence, and testimony are treated as strictly confidential. The integrity of an Honor System depends on confidentiality. All members of the Honor Board have an affirmative duty to preserve confidentiality in all matters investigated by the Board and in all formal and informal proceedings. The divulgence of names or other confidential information concerning an allegation is cause for removal from the Honor Board.

CONFLICT OF INTEREST STATEMENT

Members of the Honor Board are expected to carry out their duties with the highest standards of integrity. If at any time a Board member believes that he or she may be unable or appear to be unable to maintain professional objectivity in an investigation or adjudicatory proceeding, the member shall recuse himself or herself from any involvement in the case. Failure to do so is cause for removal from the Board. Board members shall not hesitate to disclose to and discuss with the President, the Vice President of Investigation, or the Vice President of Adjudication questions about possible conflicts of interest. Honor Board officers shall honor the request for recuse.

PURPOSE AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE HONOR BOARD

The Honor Board shall administer, pursuant to the Honor Code and in conjunction with the members of the Academic Standing Committee, all matters concerning academic misconduct and dishonesty by students. The Board shall also endeavor to increase student interest in and awareness of the ethical concerns of the legal profession.

To accomplish these ends, the Board shall:

1. Propose, as necessary, amendments to or modifications of the Honor Code;

2. Maintain a Case File Reporter (Reporter), a copy of which shall be available for public review composed as follows:

For each charge resulting in a conviction whether through informal resolution or after a formal adjudication, the Reporter shall contain a notation of the charge, a summary of the evidence, and a notation of the sanction imposed.

(a) The Reporter shall not contain the names of any individuals involved with the case other than the adjudicating panel.

(b) The Reporter shall not contain any information that may identify any individual involved with the case other than the adjudicating panel.

(c) The Reporter shall contain no entries whatsoever with respect to any charge not resulting in conviction.

3. Submit for publication in the law school newspaper and post on the designated Honor Board bulletin board, for a period of one month from the date of conviction, a report of each charge resulting in conviction, whether by informal resolution or by formal adjudication. The material submitted for publication and posted on the bulletin board shall describe the conduct that constituted a violation of the Honor Code and the sanction imposed, subject to the limitations of Part I (B)(2)(b) as well as maintain records of all cases arising under the Honor Code pursuant to Part III (G).

4. Participate in the entering student orientation program to advise all entering students of the existence and significance of the Code, and:

(a) Provide all entering students with a copy of the Code

(b) Make an oral presentation to the entering class in each division for the purpose of instilling high regard for the ethical conduct required by the institution and the profession, including without limitation discussion of plagiarism, the use of academic equipment and subscriptions for unauthorized purposes, and maintenance of high ethical standards in interactions with the legal community generally and specifically with respect to job searches

COMPOSITION OF THE HONOR BOARD

The Honor Board shall be composed of a minimum of 16 students and a maximum of 23 students from the upper-class day and evening divisions. Under ordinary circumstances, each upper-class year shall have at least one representative on the Board. If, after due diligence, the Board is unable to draw qualified members from a class, the Board may fill the vacant positions with qualified members from any division. Every spring semester, the Board shall select members from the non-graduating classes to begin service the following fall semester, replacing graduating members. The Board may also select students during the year to fill any vacancies that may occur.

All Board members must be in good academic standing as defined by the faculty. Membership on the Board continues throughout a student’s attendance at the Law School, except that membership shall terminate upon the member’s failure to remain in good standing, conviction of an Honor Code violation, resignation, or for cause.

SELECTION OF MEMBERS

Applications from day and evening students, in any academic year, will be solicited during each spring semester to be received by the Board on or before March 1. The President of the Honor Board will authorize a selection committee of at least four but no more than seven members to review the applications. Selection of new members should seek to achieve adequate distribution between all academic years in order to assure adequate carry-over of members from year to year. The selection committee will present the names of the proposed new members to the entire Honor Board for approval. A member shall only be selected upon receiving a majority vote. Once selected, new members are expected to serve until graduation.

REMOVAL OF MEMBERS

Any member of the Honor Board may be automatically removed from the Honor Board pursuant to Part I (A)(3) of the Honor Code or for cause. Cause for removal of a member is determined upon the discretion of the Board members. Reasons for cause include, but are not limited to:

  1. Repetitive unexcused absences from Honor Board meetings
  2. Revealing confidential information to non-Honor Board members
  3. Gross misapplication of Honor Board procedures

Any member of the Honor Board may commence the procedure for removal of another member. The complaining member shall submit a written Recommendation for Member Removal letter. The recommendation shall include:

  1. The name of the Board member recommended for removal
  2. The reasoning constituting cause for removal of the member

The Recommendation shall be given to the Honor Board President, who will notify the member recommended for removal. In the case that the Honor Board President is recommended for removal from the Board, the recommendation shall be given to the Vice President of Investigation. The president shall make the issue of removal a matter at the next scheduled meeting at which the complaining member shall state the reasons for his/her complaint to the Board. The member recommended for removal shall have an opportunity to rebut the charges. A member shall only be removed from the Board upon a two-thirds quorum vote.

OFFICERS

In April of each spring semester, the Board shall elect a President, Vice President of Investigation, Vice President of Adjudication and a Secretary, who will each serve for a term of one year. The Board shall also elect a Chair for the Philip B. Blank Lecture Committee. The Chair for this Committee shall be any member or officer of the Board except the President.

DUTIES OF OFFICERS

PRESIDENT

  • Sets goals and objectives for the year and submits a budget
  • Schedules and presides over all meetings
  • Creates and oversees committees as needed to carry out the business of the Board
  • Appoints chairs for all committees
  • Serves as the official spokesperson for the Honor Board
  • Plans and implements presentations for the entering student orientation program
  • Submits any and all proposed amendments to the Honor Code to the Chair of the Academic Standing Committee
  • Prepares an end of the year report for the Dean of the Law School, the Vice Dean for Academic Affairs, and the Chair of the Academic Standing Committee
  • Picks up and oversees all cases
  • Presides over the selection of new members and the election of all new officers
  • Attends faculty meetings and gives status reports as necessary
  • Updates the Policies and Procedures Manual as needed
  • Assumes the responsibilities of the Vice President of Investigation in the event that the Vice President of Investigation is unable to fulfill his or her duties
  • Assigns Board members to serve on any and all judicial committees in the event that the Vice President of Adjudication is unable to do so
  • Arranges the locations of any and all adjudicatory hearings in the event that the Vice President of Adjudication is unable to do so
  • Arranges for the recording of any and all judicial proceedings in the event that the Vice President of Adjudication is unable to do so

VICE PRESIDENT OF INVESTIGATION

  • Presides over all meetings in the absence of the President
  • Assigns Board members to serve on any and all investigation committees
  • Monitors the status of any and all ongoing investigations
  • Maintains, updates, and disseminates any all letter templates
  • Arranges for sanctions to be implemented in cases resulting in conviction (only after completion of the appeals process or passage of the appeals deadline; if informal resolution is accepted the appeals process does not apply)
  • Destroys any and all records of any cases not resulting in a conviction
  • Assumes the responsibilities of the President in the event that the President is unable to fulfill his or her duties
  • Undertakes such special duties as assigned by the President

VICE PRESIDENT OF ADJUDICATION

  • Serves on any and all judicial committees
  • Assigns Board members to serve on any and all judicial committees
  • Arranges the locations of any and all adjudicatory hearings

Case Reporter

In accordance with the Pace Law School Honor Code Part III.B.2.d, the Honor Board is responsible for maintaining a Case Reporter that includes the following information. The Case Reporter is made available to members of the Pace Law School academic community and is available for review at the Office of the Registrar.

Code Violation Notations. For each allegation resulting in a final determination (whether by informal resolution or formal adjudication) that a student has violated the Honor Code, the Case Reporter shall contain (A) a notation of the violation of the Honor Code; (B) a summary of the evidence; (C) a notation of the sanction(s) imposed against the Student-Respondent; and (D) the names of the Investigator(s), the members of the Adjudicatory Panel, and/or the members of the Appeals Panel, as applicable (together, a “Code Violation Notation”). If such determination is reached by informal resolution, the Investigator(s) shall prepare the Code Violation Notation, as set forth in Part V.A.4. If such determination is made by formal adjudication, the Adjudicatory Panel shall prepare the Code Violation Notation, as set forth in Part V.B.11.a, subject to reversal, alteration or modification by the Appeals Panel. A Code Violation Notation shall not include the name of the Student-Respondent and shall not include the name of the person reporting the alleged violation(s) of the Honor Code pursuant to Part IV.A.

Code Non-Violation Notations. For each allegation that does not result in a final determination (whether by informal resolution or by formal adjudication) that a student has violated the Honor Code, the Case Reporter shall contain (A) a notation of the alleged violation of the Honor Code; (B) a summary of the evidence; (C) a notation of any recommendation made in connection with the resolution of the allegation; and (D) the names of the Investigator(s), the members of the Adjudicatory Panel and/or the members of the Appeals Panel, as applicable (together, a “Code Non-Violation Notation”). If such determination is made at any time prior to the issuance a decision by an Adjudicatory Panel (i.e., through dismissal by the Investigator or by informal resolution prior to the issuance of a decision by an Adjudicatory Panel), then the Investigator shall prepare the Code Non-Violation Notation, as set forth in Parts IV.C.6 and V.A.4. If such determination is reached by the Adjudicatory Panel, then the Adjudicatory Panel shall prepare the Code Non-Violation Notation, as set forth in Part V.B.11.b, subject to reversal, alteration or modification by the Appeals Panel. A “Code Non-Violation Notation” shall not include the names of, nor any identifying information about, the Student-Respondent, any person reporting the alleged violation(s) of the Honor Code pursuant to Part IV.A or any individual involved with the case other than the names of the Investigator(s), the members of the Adjudicatory Panel and/or the members of the Appeals Panel, as applicable.

Frequently Asked Questions

The reporting, investigating, and adjudicating procedures are spelled out in detail in the Honor Code. The following is intended to answer the most commonly-asked questions. Please keep in mind that the information here is very abridged. For detailed procedures you should consult the Honor Code.

  1. How does the Honor Board decide to investigate someone?
    There is a misperception that Honor Board members monitor the behavior of other students and initiate investigations based on what they find. Nothing could be further from the truth. The most typical scenario is that a professor suspects that a student has plagiarized or collaborated on an assignment, and notifies the Honor Board. Sometimes a fellow student witnesses dishonest behavior and reports it to the Honor Board. A student could also turn themselves in.

  2. I saw [or know of] another student doing something dishonest. What should I do?
    If you are reasonably certain of what you saw, then you must report it to the Honor Board. If you know about an Honor Code violation and you do not report it, that in itself is an Honor Code violation.

  3. How do I report something to the Honor Board?
    You should write out a detailed description of what you witnessed, sign and date it, and give it to the Registrar, the Honor Board President, or the Academic Standing Committee Chair. Once you have reported something, you should keep it confidential while the Honor Board takes the appropriate action.

  4. How does the investigation process work?
    When the Honor Board gets a case, a committee of two Honor Board members (students) and one faculty member is convened. They first decide whether the case warrants investigation, and if it does they notify the student that they are under investigation. This is done by serving the student via the Registrar’s Office.

  5. What happens next?
    The committee will investigate the alleged offense, which includes giving the accused student the opportunity to speak with them. Once the investigation is complete, the investigating committee determines either that there is not probable cause that an Honor Code violation occurred, and dismisses the case, or determines that there is probable cause that an Honor Code violation occurred, and usually offers the student an informal resolution (similar to a plea bargain).

  6. What if the student doesn’t want to accept the informal resolution?
    You should know that if you accept an informal resolution, it is an admission of guilt. Your other option is to request a formal adjudication. The investigating committee can also go directly to a formal adjudication without offering an informal resolution first. Keep in mind that if you turn down an informal resolution, and then at the formal adjudication you are found guilty, it is very possible that you will receive a more severe sanction than what was offered as an informal resolution.

  7. What happens at a formal adjudication?
    The investigating committee acts as the prosecution for the case. A judicial panel of three Honor Board members (students) and two faculty members is convened to hear the evidence. The student-defendant can (but does not have to) present a defense. They can be represented if they wish, and can request that the hearing be open to the public. The hearing usually lasts a few hours, and the judicial panel hands down a decision, including sanctions if appropriate, soon thereafter.

  8. Can a student appeal the decision?
    Yes, you can appeal an adjudication panel’s decision to the Dean of the Law School. However, if you accept an informal resolution you cannot then appeal.

  9. How long does the whole process take?
    The process can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months, depending on different factors and procedural outcomes. The Honor Board’s policy is to expedite every case. Especially in the case of an accused student who is close to graduation, the case will be resolved as quickly as possible.

  10. I just found out that I am under investigation. What should I do?
    Only you can decide what your best course of action is, but some common advice is to confide in your friends and family, and to consider retaining outside counsel if feasible. You should learn and understand the adjudication procedure very well, and keep track of the status of your case. You should stay calm and continue to work on your studies as best you can.

  11. A professor told me he gave my exam paper to the Honor Board for investigation, but I have not heard anything more about it. How can I find out what’s going on?
    You have a right to know whether there is an investigation pending against you, and the status of it. If it has been a couple of weeks and no one has officially notified you, it is possible that your case was determined not to be an honor issue and subsequently dismissed, because the Honor Board didn’t realize you were even aware of the matter. You have nothing to lose by contacting the Honor Board. We get a small number of cases each year so there is no danger that by contacting the board you will accelerate an investigation that might otherwise have been dropped.

  12. I’m terrified that I might inadvertently violate the Honor Code and be brought up on charges. Is this possible?
    Although many behaviors would violate the Honor Code, the most common alleged violation is plagiarism. You do not have to intend to plagiarize in order to commit the offense. So yes, it is possible for you to plagiarize without intending to, maybe because you rushed to get a paper written, or weren’t sure what sources were allowed while doing an assignment. The best way to avoid committing a violation, even an unintentional one, is to be careful and attentive when doing assignments; to ask the professor for clarification if an assignment is confusing; and to always err on the side of caution. The last thing you ever want to do is rush through an assignment and cut corners.

  13. Is there anything I should be particularly careful of?
    One of the biggest problems for students is the accessibility of information on the internet and in reference materials. You might find something on a website or in a formbook that exactly matches the assignment you are working on. You should assume that the professor did not intend for you to search the web to find something to submit, or for you to copy reference material word for word. Again, if you are unsure, speak to the professor before submitting the assignment. And if anything you submit contains someone else’s work or ideas, make sure that you properly acknowledge it.

  14. I’ve read cases where students received letters in their files, marks on their transcripts, and other punishments. What is the significance of these sanctions, and how do they affect someone after they’ve graduated?
    Obviously, something on your transcript or in your file will be red flag to whoever sees it, including the Committee on Character and Fitness, the Bar Association, and future employers. Your transcript and file are permanent records that will follow you for the rest of your legal career.