Monday, March 30, 2009

Bad lawyering for ColoradoU in Churchill mess?

The Denver Post wrote of questioning of accused plagiarist Ward Churchill by a CU attorney:

Patrick O'Rourke, a CU attorney, saw his questioning backfire at one point when he asked Churchill if he was really arguing that he didn't recognize the Cohen essay when he had edited it once before, for another book, just months earlier.

O'Rourke had the title pages of both versions of the essay put up on a big screen in an attempt to show that they had the same title. But they did not.

One wonders if the two Cohen essays involved any self-plagiarism / multiple publication by Cohen or if O'Rourke made a self-evident mistake? If the former, using plagiarism to attack a plagiarist is sublimely ironic.

See also

Churchill plagiarism investigation the flip side of Poshard story?

***9News goes deeper into the issue -->

While on the stand, Churchill did concede that sections of an essay by Fay Cohen, a professor at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, was used without giving her credit in the book "State of Native America," but he said that someone else - he's not sure who - was responsible for the content of the writing.

"Plagiarism occurred," Churchill said as he faced cross-examination by CU attorney Patrick O'Rourke


At one point, O'Rourke asked Churchill whether he was telling the jury that when he edited the second book just months after the first he didn't recognize Cohen's prose.

"Yes, that's what I'm telling them," Churchill said.

But O'Rourke's questioning backfired when he asked Churchill a second time how he could not have known both essays were written by Cohen when they had the same name. After Churchill challenged that assertion, O'Rourke had the two essays put up on a big screen in the corner of the courtroom, and that showed the two articles were, indeed, titled differently.

"You know what professor, you are right, I am wrong," O'Rourke said.

Later, he questioned Churchill at length about ghost-writing, pointing out that Churchill contends he wrote the piece that was published under Robbins' name and then later cited it as a source in other writings of his.

Asked if he disagreed that that was deceptive, Churchill replied, "Yes, I disagree."

Churchill argued that ghost-writing is an entirely accepted practice in the academic world, and he said he could bring numerous witnesses to the courtroom who would testify that way.


During his cross examination O'Rourke asked Churchill why he said that he preferred to be called doctor at the start of his testimony on Monday when he has only earned a master's degree.

Churchill: "I have an honorary doctorate.

O'Rourke: "They gave you an honorary title?"

IPBiz notes the Laurence Tribe matter got into the area of ghost-writiing.

IPBiz notes that Ben Franklin's title of Dr. was an honorary degree.


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