Every Friday, we choose an alum who has been making headlines—for better or for worse.
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Michael E. O’Neill ’90JD

Michael E. O’Neill ’90JD is only our 24th Yalie of the Week, but he’s the second one who became newsworthy through plagiarism. (Make of that what you will.) O’Neill, whom President Bush nominated in June to be a federal district judge, has acknowledged using passages from other people’s writings in his articles for legal journals. But unlike English professor Kevin Kopelson ’79, O’Neill told the New York Times that his borrowing was inadvertent, the result of a “poor work method.”

O’Neill, 46, is a law professor at George Mason University. He voluntarily surrendered his tenure after the plagiarism was disclosed, but he continues to teach there and may reapply for tenure. A former clerk to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas ’74JD, he served more recently as a counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he helped shepherd the confirmations of Supreme Court justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito ’75JD. “I think on the merits, Michael O’Neill ought to be confirmed,” his former boss, Senator Arlen Specter ’56LLB, told the Washington Post. “You have a mistake which ought not negate an extraordinary record of public service.”

Filed under Law School, plagiarism
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