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LBW Practice Tip of the Day: Don't Copy Your 'Statement of Law' From Wikipedia

Via the Legal Writing Prof Blog, I stumbled upon a decision in U.S. v. Karen Sypher (Sypher ... Sypher ... where have I heard that name before? Oh yes, this lovely lady).

Beyond the attempted extortion of University of Louisville men's basketball coach Rick Pitino, which led to a seven-year sentence for Sypher, the case provides the LBW practice tip of the day: When briefing a legal issue in federal court, do not simply copy your statement of the law from a page on Wikipedia.

So says U.S. District Judge Charles R. Simpson III, who dropped an interesting footnote on this topic in his Feb. 9, 2011, opinion denying Sypher's motion for extension of time, motion for new trial, motion for Rule 11 sanctions and other evidentiary motions. In his footnote 4, Simpson compared Sypher's motion with the Wikipedia entry for Strickland v. Washington, and "remind[ed] counsel that such cutting and pasting, without attribution," is (a) plagiarism and (b) professional misconduct under the Kentucky Rules of Professional Conduct. 

Judge Simpson added that he also wished to remind counsel that "Wikipedia is not an acceptable source of legal authority in the United States District Courts."

Posted by Bruce Carton on April 6, 2011 at 03:22 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)

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