Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Cutting and pasting to create legal briefs?

Years ago, in defending Laurence Tribe from charges of plagiarism, Alan Dershowitz spoke of cultural differences between law and
other disciplines. See, for example, Lawyers copying other lawyers: plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose , which contains the text:

. As recounted on Dean Velvel's blog in September 2004:


According to The Crimson, Dershowitz said that there is a "‘cultural difference’" between sourcing in the legal profession and in other academic disciplines. With the rest of the sentence being The Crimson’s words, albeit reflecting Dershowitz’s ideas, The Crimson wrote that "He said that judges frequently rely on lawyers’ briefs and clerks’ memoranda in drafting opinions. This results in a ‘cultural difference’ between sourcing in the legal profession and other academic disciplines, Dershowitz said."

Flash forward to the year 2018, and note a post in the Northwest Herald

The $400-an-hour attorney representing Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser has had accusations of plagiarism leveled against him.

The charges stem from an April 25 brief Woodstock attorney Robert Hanlon filed in a lawsuit against Clerk Karen Lukasik, former Highway Commissioner Bob Miller and his wife, Anna May Miller.

Lawyers on the other side of the case flipped to page 4 and – under the title "INJUNCTIVE RELIEF" – notice some irregularities in Hanlon's writing. A Google search revealed it actually wasn't Hanlon's writing at all.

It was an uncited word-for-word copy of an April 2011 Chicago Daily Law Bulletin article.

Later in Hanlon's document – on page 7 and spanning paragraph 7 until the conclusion of the brief – the lawyers discover more language lifted from another source without an attribution or citation. This time, the words came from page 4 of a “Practice Series” primer on temporary restraining orders from Chicago-based firm Jenner & Block.


And yes there is a 2018 story linking Harvard and plagiarism

Princeton Graduate wins Harvard Thesis Prize, kind of. Plagiarism hits the Ivy Leagues.

Different points of view are reflected in the comments. One that interested IPBiz:

the GSD dude is citing last semesters mike hayes and andrew holder talk 'architecture before speech', which tells you something about the academic rigor by which his thesis work was produced: in that talk both KMH and Andrew Holder admit that they 'dont have to be correct' in citing a text--they simply have to use it in a way that supports their argument. by their own admission they barely rise to the level of cultural criticism--which is fine, btw, we need more intelligent cultural discussion of architecture. but to cite that for a masters thesis? it barely rises to minimum academic standards we learn in childhood.


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