Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Plagiarism in law review brought up in judicial nomination

The Washington Post discussed plagiarism issues asserted in the proposed nomination of Michael E. O'Neill to a seat on D DC.

The Post noted White House spokeswoman spokeswoman Emily Lawrimore said O'Neill was "completely forthcoming" about incidents in which he copied quotes and analysis from another scholar, and said lawmakers who worked alongside him in the Senate had attested to his "character and abilities." (...) O'Neill said mistakes were made when he wrote reviews and notes in a single computer file, then was not as careful as he should have been during the writing process.

The plagiarism incident was apparently recognized at George Mason University. The Times wrote:

O'Neill surrendered his tenure at George Mason after a university investigation concluded he had used material from another author, without attribution, in a law review piece published shortly before he achieved the coveted academic status, according to Daniel D. Polsby, dean of the law school. O'Neill remains at the school as an associate professor. The article at issue was later withdrawn from the Supreme Court Economic Review, an incident first reported by the Times.

IPBiz notes in the cite-checking business, checkers evaluate the accuracy of CITED material. They generally have no familiarity with the area, and thus cannot recognize copied but UNCITED material. Also, checkers don't evaluate the truth of cited material, as evidenced by the Stanford Law Review publishing an article in 2005 stating that Gary Boone invented the integrated circuit. The editorial review of law review articles is porous as to plagiarism and as to falsity.

IPBiz notes also the quote in the Post article: "I am a creature of the Senate. If you believe this was inadvertent, and it was fairly insignificant, is it something to kill somebody's career for?" Yes, inadvertent plagiarism again. SIU determined such things were NOT something to kill [Poshard's] career for.

An earlier article in the New York Times had the text:

Mr. O’Neill, a boyish 46-year-old who wore jeans and a wrinkled blue button-down shirt, said he had never knowingly passed off other scholars’ statements as his own. “So much of it is sort of dry and straightforward stuff,” he said. “To me, it all sounds generic and plain. I didn’t catch it.”

Deborah L. Rhode, an authority on legal ethics at Stanford, said the retraction by the Supreme Court Economic Review was “extremely unusual” and amounted to “a textbook case of conduct that casts doubt on someone’s fitness for judicial office.”

IPBiz notes that there is a lot of copying in the legal area, as pointed out by Dershowitz in defense of Tribe.

For the record the copied text was from a 2000 article in the Virginia Law Review written by Anne C. Dailey. [Tribe copied text from a professor at the University of Virginia.]


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