October 15, 2010
Plagiarizing Attorney Reprimanded
The Iowa Supreme Court has imposed a public reprimand of an attorney who was found to have plagiarized in two briefs filed in a bankruptcy matter. the court agreed with its Disciplinary Board that the attorney had not charged an excessive fee, but rejected the proposed sanction of a six-month suspension.
The bankruptcy judge had found that the briefs in question were of "unusually high quality" and directed the attorney to certify that he was the author. The quality came from a law review article from which the attorney had lifted 17 pages virtually verbatim. In response to the order, the attorney admitted that he had exceeded permissible use of a source. The attorney notified the client and Bar of the issue.
The court noted that a plagiarism finding can be a "scarlet letter" for an attorney and indicated that sanctions would not be appropriate for errors in citations. Here, the reproduction of the law review article was more than a citation lapse. (Mike Frisch)
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