Law Scholar Accused of Copying Wikipedia

Judge Jeffrey White
Judge Jeffrey White

A federal judge said he was “extremely troubled” that a China law scholar copied from Wikipedia much of his report in support of the U.S. economic espionage case against a Chinese businessman.  U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White Monday ordered a hearing into whether the GeorgetownUniversity law professor’s testimony should be barred.

The challenged report by Professor James V. Feinerman, an associate dean of transnational programs specializing in Asian Legal Studies at Georgetown, was to be used in the upcoming trial of Walter Liew, in an alleged conspiracy to steal trade secrets from E.I. DuPont and sell them in China.

The copying “may seriously undermine his credibility as a witness in the eyes of the jury,” White wrote.  The issue White said he must resolve “is not whether Professor Feinerman copied Wikipedia, but whether his reliance on that source renders his opinions so unreliable that he should not be permitted to testify.”

The defense does not challenge Feinerman’s qualifications, Liew’s lawyers only wish to exclude a portion of his opinion testimony that contends national industrial policy goals in China “encourage intellectual property theft,” and suggests that “an extraordinary number of Chinese in business and government are engaged in this practice.”

White refused to exclude Feinerman’s testimony entirely, but his does want to determine if the professor relied on sources other than Wikipedia to form opinions given in the record.

Feinerman began work at the Georgetown faculty 25 years ago.  He studied in China immediately after law school at HarvardUniversity and was a Fulbright lecturer in Beijing.  He has also written two books and numerous articles about Chinese law and economics.

Liew, his wife Christina and several individuals were charged with violation of trade secret and economic espionage laws when they allegedly stole, or used, trade secrets related to chloride-route production of titanium dioxide, a white pigment used in paint and other products.

He allegedly sold the secrets to companies controlled by the People’s Republic of China.

In addition, Liew is charged with five counts of federal income tax violations and three counts of bankruptcy fraud.

The trial is set to begin January 6 in San Francisco.

Case: U.S. v. Liew, No. 11-CR-573JSW



One comment

  1. Well this can either be attributed to a few thing.
    1) being unmotivated and lazy
    2) being overworked without adequate time to study properly
    3) looking for the easy way out

    No matter the cause this is still troubling and the question that I want to ask is, how widespread are issues like this that don’t actually bubble up to the surface and get found out?


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