Maryland Student Misconduct and Disciplinary Cases: Do You Need a Lawyer?

At Clark and Steinhorn, LLC in Laurel, Maryland, we are close enough to the University of Maryland College Park that we help many students and their families with a broad range of cases including our traditional fare of car and truck crashes and other sundry personal injury cases.

However, recently we have seen a steadily increasing flow of students involved in student misconduct and disciplinary cases, who realize too late that they really needed a lawyer from the start. There is an inevitable tendency for students and their parents to assume that the University to which they have paid tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, will behave leniently toward their clients, the student body, when nothing could be further from the truth.

Because of the University of Maryland's gargantuan size there is a student disciplinary bureaucracy which, once in motion, is difficult to stop. At a time when more than 85%  of the student body admits to conduct that violates the student code of conduct, the few students actually caught, receive heavy-handed treatment with routine denial of even elementary due process.

The punishments include expulsion from University housing, permanent adverse notations on student's official transcripts and even complete expulsion from the University. Any one of these things can work great hardships on the student and their family, making employment opportunities diminish, graduate school impossible and in complete expulsions, it can make obtaining a degree very difficult.

While the University of Maryland expects its students to adhere strictly to the rules, examination of its conduct reveals a complete disregard for its own obligations. The University of Maryland Code of Student Conduct governs the obligations of students and the University and yet it is a one way street. The Office of Student Conduct so routinely ignores its own procedures as to make them seem farcical.

Despite these routine shortcomings, students brought before the University Student Judiciary are found guilty at a staggering rate. Punishments meted out invariably maximize the sanctions with no regard for mitigating circumstances.

The problem is that due process protections that would be required of virtually any other judicial or quasi-judicial entity, seem not to apply students, particularly at the University of Maryland College Park. 

In a recent case, a senior two courses shy of graduation, was expelled based upon second and third degree hearsay. That individual had spent thousands of dollars on a university education only to be thrown out at the finish line.

In another academic integrity case, the only evidence adduced by both sides at the Student Judiciary Hearing was that a widespread internet outage had resulted in  a delayed, incompletely sourced assignment submission and the student was found guilty of plagiarism. The Student Judiciary meted out the maximum sentence (they always do) with a specific finding under mitigating circumstances, that they disbelieved there was an internet outage!

Which is to say they believed the professor who initiated the student misconduct charges about the misconduct but not about her testimony concerning the internet outage which was of course the student's explanation for why the paper was improperly sourced! No evidence to the contrary but the Board can make up its own facts!

So if you are the subject of student disciplinary or misconduct proceedings beware. Your best course of action is to speak to one of the attorneys at Clark and Steinhorn, LLC to see if we can help (301) 317-1001 or Maryland-Law.com