Sunday, June 11, 2017

A justice in New Zealand accused of plagiarism within a judicial opinion; a journalism/law prof in Tennessee is also charged with plagiarism

RadioNZ notes

Nauru Chief Judge Khan is alleged to have used large swathes of Stephen Lawrence's article [ "Abuse of Process - Judicial Enforcement of Fundamental Values and Principles". ] in a judicial decision he made in 2015, without any attribution as to the source of the material.

Stephen Lawrence has told Nauru Justice Minister Adeang the alleged plagiarism raises serious ethical issues in any context.

Further he said when it occurs in the written reasons for a judicial decision it also undermines public confidence and may create appeal grounds for the unsuccessful party.


**In a separate matter, a journalism/law professor at the University of Tennessee [Stuart N. Brotman ] has been accused of plagiarism. From the Knoxville News Sentinel:

Brotman delivered his report in September 2015 and was paid the $115,000 promised him. A month later, the foundation said Ford had reviewed Brotman’s report and found it rife with plagiarized sections.

“Brotman had replicated a significant portion of work, word-for-word and without citation, from an individual named Lawrence Spiwak, who is Dr. Ford’s colleague,” foundation attorney Harris wrote. “The Initial Report also copied portions of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Inter-Governmental A1 Relations, Study A-121, and a brief by the U.S. Department of Justice.”

Brotman admits via Leibowitz he tried to fix the report, adding additional footnotes and attribution, to suit the foundation and even threw in some additional research for free. He said he ran the revised report through Grammarly, plagiarism-detection software.

“A memorandum provided to SGLF on November 6, 2015 noted the Grammarly scan of the draft report revised at SGLF’s request indicated potentially 132 citation errors, with the largest grouping of these reflecting direct quotations that had been correctly cited,” Leibowitz wrote.


The arguments at this point are more about what laws apply than whether Brotman actually committed plagiarism or breached his contract with the foundation because of plagiarism. Brotman is arguing that even if he is guilty of plagiarism, only the authors of the works from which he stole can pursue legal action for copyright infringement. The foundation disagrees.

“SGLF has raised no allegations that Brotman infringed its copyright,” attorney Harris wrote. “SGLF is claiming that Brotman breached his contract by failing to prepare a work product in accordance with the parties’ contract. Instead, Brotman — a journalism professor — committed plagiarism that could have harmed SGLF.”

The case is in its early stages. A scheduling conference is set for June 22 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Guyton.



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