How Does It Work?

Overview of a Medical School Honor Court Hearing:

The SoM Deputy Attorney General (AG) will investigate all potential Honor Code violations involving SoM students. During this initial phase of investigation, the AG is working under the standard of Reasonable Basis. If the evidence supports the allegation, the AG will officially charge the accused with the infractions. As of April 2012, charging decisions by Deputy AGs (including the SoM Deputy AG) are subject to review by the Graduate and Professional AG and the Judicial Programs Officer. The student will be assigned a Defense Counsel from the Attorney General's office, who will help the student navigate the system and represent the student at the hearing. Cases are heard by five Court Members, with preference given to SoM Court Members, although Court Members from the larger Graduate and Professional School Honor Court may serve on cases involving SoM students. The Court decides the guilt of the student and, if necessary, chooses appropriate sanctions. The student has the right to appeal all decisions made by the Honor Court to the University Hearings Board.


Basic Rights of the Accused Student:

Accused students have basic rights guaranteed by the Instrument.

  1. Information and Informed Choices. The right to examine this Instrument; to be advised of the charge, the character of the evidence against him or her, the alternatives for responding, the possible sanctions, their rights, and their responsibilities to appear for relevant proceedings; and to make choices of the student’s own free will, including the choice to waive any rights provided by this Instrument after receiving an explanation of the possible consequences so long as any such waiver is made in writing.
  2. Presumption of Innocence. The right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, and to plead not guilty without fear that the plea itself (as distinct from any related lies or misrepresentations) may give rise to a charge of lying should the student be found guilty of violating the Honor Code.
  3. Counsel. The right to an assigned student counsel or a student counsel of his or her own choosing, provided that neither a licensed attorney nor a person who has passed a state bar examination may serve as the investigator or defense counsel or be present during proceedings. Only currently enrolled undergraduate students at UNC-Chapel Hill may serve as investigator or defense counsel in cases involving undergraduate students and only currently enrolled students, preferably from within the pertinent academic program, may serve as investigator or counsel to the accused student in cases involving graduate or professional students. However, in the event the offense charged is also the subject of criminal charges, the accused student may be accompanied to the hearing by a licensed attorney who may confer with the student during the hearing so long as the attorney does not address the hearing panel, those hearing the appeal, or other parties or witnesses, and so long as the attorney does not delay or disrupt the proceeding.
  4. Fair Hearing. The right to a fair, impartial, and speedy hearing, including a separate hearing upon request.
  5. Self-Incrimination. The right to refuse to respond to questions that would tend to be self-incriminating.
  6. Evidence and Witnesses. The right prior to the hearing to review written evidence and obtain a list of anticipated witnesses; to hear or face witnesses testifying against him or her and question any material witnesses; to challenge and rebut any evidence or written testimony; to present material and character witnesses; and to testify and present evidence in his or her own behalf provided that such evidence is relevant to the charge or other evidence presented and does not otherwise infringe the rights of other students.
  7. Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.The right to have an alleged offense proven beyond a reasonable doubt, where “beyond a reasonable doubt” means a doubt that is based upon reason and common sense after careful and impartial consideration of all evidence, and does not mean a mere “shadow of a doubt” or any conceivable doubt.
  8. Appeals and Rehearing.The right to pursue a subsequent appeal to the extent specified in this Instrument and to be free from rehearing under this Instrument for the same offense after being found not guilty, except to the extent that a new hearing may be required on an original charge pursuant to Appendix C.


For more information, please refer to the Instrument.