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Applicant to Court of Appeals Withdraws Application that Included Plagiarized Material

Plagiarism text typed on an old typewriter

An Arizona attorney who was seeking a seat on the bench of the state’s Court of Appeals has recently withdrawn her application. The application was shown to include passages from recent US Supreme Court justice confirmation hearings that had not been attributed to the original speakers.

Passages lifted from hearings for Gorsuch and Alito included in application

Attorney Kristina Reeves submitted an application to the Arizona Commission on Appellate Court Appointments earlier this year, seeking a seat on the Court of Appeals, Division One. Hers was one of eleven applications for the seat, and one of the nine Republican applicants to the Division One spot. In her application, Reeves wrote, “Putting on a robe should remind a judge that it’s time to lose her ego and open her mind.” An astute staffer for the Commission noted that, during his confirmation hearings, now-US Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch said, “Putting on a robe reminds us that it’s time to lose our egos and open our minds.” Reeves also wrote that judges are “always open to the possibility of changing their minds based on the next brief that they read, or the next argument that is made by an attorney who is appearing before them, or a comment that is made by a colleague.” Samuel Alito made an identical remark during his own confirmation hearing. Reeves included two other statements in her application that appeared to be nearly identical to statements made by Gorsuch or Alito during their confirmation hearings. None of these statements included an attribution.

Application withdrawn after reaching local media outlets

When Reeves was contacted by an administrator for the Commission about the plagiarized comments, she first sought to amend her application by removing the plagiarized comments. Several days later, after the story broke among the Arizona legal community, Reeves withdrew her application altogether. One attorney who is experienced in defending attorneys before the State Bar said that Reeves could face charges from the Bar for her conduct, which could result in a formal admonition or worse.

This was not the first incident of controversy this year surrounding nominees to the judicial bench in Arizona. In March of this year, we shared the story on our blog of the five Arizona Supreme Court nominees forwarded by the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments to the desk of Gov. Doug Ducey. That list notably did not include Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, who was found by the commission to be the subject of too much controversy and political debate to be a suitable nominee to the state’s highest court.

Words matter, and whatever gets submitted to the court, whether in an application to the bench or a civil deposition, can become a permanent and public record. If you’re an Arizona attorney in need of seasoned and professional court reporting services, contact the Phoenix offices of Ottmar & Associates for a consultation on your needs at 602-485-1488.