Sunday, August 11, 2019

More on Biden and Syracuse Law

With respect to text in the previous post

Biden, who plagiarized a paper while a 1L at Syracuse Law School, has been saying things that sound like mistakes for years.

One notes that text in wikipedia might suggest otherwise:

Later in 1987, the Delaware Supreme Court's Board of Professional Responsibility cleared Biden of the law school
plagiarism charges regarding his standing as a lawyer, saying Biden had "not violated any rules"


With wikipedia relying upon text in a New York Times article titled: Professional Board Clears Biden In Two Allegations of Plagiarism, with the relevant text being: The court's Board on Professional Responsibility, consisting of lawyers and non-lawyers, ruled on Dec. 21, 1987, that Mr. Biden had not violated any rules.

Ref. 100 of the wikipedia article: "Professional Board Clears Biden In Two Allegations of Plagiarism". The New York Times. Associated Press. May 29, 1989

The "trick" here is what the issue was before the body in Delaware. The issue was NOT whether Biden committed plagiarism at Syracuse.

In the book -- Matters of Principle: An Insider's Account of America's Rejection of Robert Bork's Nomination to the Supreme Court (Simon & Shuster, 2019) -- , author Mark Gitenstein notes that the question pertained to Biden's application to the Delaware bar in 1968, in particular his answer of "no" to the question whether Biden had ever been disciplined for an ethical violation. Gitenstein noted that the Delaware body concluded Biden's act was an academic rather than an ethical violation. One notes that Syracuse gave Biden an "F" in the course related to the plagiarism and required Biden to repeat the course.

Of Gitenstein's relationship to Biden, wikipedia notes: "Prior to his work at Mayer Brown, Gitenstein served as Chief Counsel (1987–1989) and Minority Chief Counsel (1981–1987) to the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary, serving under then-Senator Joe Biden. Gitenstein also served as Counsel to the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (1975–1978) "


In 2008, IPBiz had written:

The Buffalo News recounts Arthur M. Cooper's story of the Biden plagiarism incident at Syracuse Law in 1965-->

Cooper was asked to recall the experience he last detailed during Biden’s 1988 presidential campaign. And while Biden’s alleged flirtations with plagiarism emerged as a major controversy back in 1988, Cooper now notes that it seems so tame in comparison with to-day’s political scandals.

“Since then, Gary Hart and Bill Clinton have trumped him for sure,” said Cooper, a retired state workers’ compensation judge.

It began when Cooper and Biden were first-year law students at SU, after Biden married college sweetheart Neilia Hunter of Auburn [New York], now deceased. In a course on legal writing, Biden and Cooper were asked to critique papers they had anonymously swapped.

“In critiquing Joe’s, I found five or six pages out of a law journal without citation,” Cooper said Sunday. “I told Joe about it, but he said he didn’t think there was a problem. I told him I thought I had to bring it up to the professor.”

Cooper, 63, said the university took action, indicating he believed that Biden had to repeat the course.

The violation might have been inadvertent, Cooper says now, but it especially became an issue in 1987 when the aspiring presidential candidate was also accused of lifting passages from British politician Neil Kinnock’s speeches, without attribution, for his own.

“My opinion was that he probably knew what he was doing,” Cooper says now of the SU incident.

IPBiz notes a key point: Biden was told that copying five pages without footnoting was wrong BUT he didn’t think there was a problem. Allison didn't think copying three sentence fragments about history was a problem, but she walked the plank from "Semester at Sea." Anybody who thinks Allison did something wrong has to think a long, long time about voting for Biden.

The link to the Buffalo News story on Cooper is no longer active.

See also the 2008 IPBiz post
Googling --plagiarism and joe biden--

The idea that an academic violation can't be an ethical violation is problematic. Given that Biden was disciplined, the Delaware body is saying that plagiarizing a paper is not an ethical violation. The Delaware body did NOT "clear" Biden of plagiarism; rather, they said plagiarism was not an ethical violation. When Biden was cautioned by Cooper that there was a problem in copying without attribution, this became more than a case of sloppy citation practice. Cooper knew it was wrong. So did Syracuse Law.

An extreme example of "academic violation pigeon-holing" would be saying the 1978 murder of Stanford professor Karel de Leeuw by (former) student Theodore Landon "Ted" Streleski was merely an academic violation.


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