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September 27, 2004

Tribe and his kindred

So it isn't just celebrated Harvard Law prof Charles Ogletree who uses others' words without proper attribution (see Sept. 14); the roll of shame also turns out to include even more celebrated Harvard Law prof Laurence Tribe, as Joseph Bottum reveals in the Weekly Standard, complete with parallel columns. Tribe's offense to be sure would appear less egregious than Ogletree's: rather than incorporate six verbatim paragraphs from the work of another law prof (Yale's Jack Balkin, in Ogletree's case) he merely did a whole lot of very close paraphrasing in his book God Save This Honorable Court of the earlier words of University of Virginia's Henry Abraham, without the courtesy of mentioning Abraham by name in more than a passing way. (One 19-word passage of Abraham's is actually reproduced verbatim.) In both Ogletree's and Tribe's case a proximate cause of the errors appears to have been overreliance on the work of underlings who (much circumstantial evidence suggests) did much of the actual work on the books while the celebrity law profs' names went on the cover, itself a remarkable and regrettable state of affairs given that scholars' reputations supposedly rest on their own thoughts and words.

For more on the controversy over Ogletree's borrowing, in which (as it happened) Tribe recently weighed in on behalf of his colleague, see University of Massachusetts law dean Lawrence Velvel's blog (first, second), Donna Wentworth and Larry Solum. Several of the above links are via a new anonyblog covering Harvard Law faculty plagiarism which is compiling lots of links on the matter. More: Tribe apologizes.

Posted by Walter Olson at 12:04 AM | TrackBack (1)

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