Arnold & Porter partner David Eggert, representing Philip Morris on appeal in a complex civil RICO case that is set for oral argument today, raised this point in a brief: the federal district judge who sided with the government in 2006 in bringing sanctions against Big Tobacco copied government language—right down to typographical errors.
U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler’s 1,653-page ruling, Eggert wrote in an appellate brief, “reproduced large sections of the government’s proposed findings verbatim, complete with the government’s typographical errors. Indeed, over 80 percent of the court’s findings were simply copied from the government’s proposed findings.”
Arnold & Porter lawyers ran Kessler’s landmark decision through a program called “WCopyfind,” plagiarism-detecting software distributed for free by a physics professor at the University of Virginia. The program, found at the “Plagiarism Resource Site,” detects shared text between documents. Eggert noted two typographical errors in a footnote. “The district court’s word-for-word reproduction of the government’s proposed findings led to serious deficiencies that the court itself acknowledged,” Eggert wrote.
Duh, IPBiz hopes not many people find this a newsflash. Court opinions copy stuff from briefs, findings of fact, findings of law, etc. Nothing new here. And, of course, one Harvard professor (Dershowitz) defending Laurence Tribe remarked that law promoted a culture of plagiarism. And Joe Biden copied five pages of a law review as a student at Syracuse Law and didn't get expelled. Who's kidding whom here?