Law Students

Harvard Falsely Puts “Plagiarism” on Graduate’s Permanent Record — She Loses Six Figure Prospects, and Other Jobs
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Megon Walker, who graduated Harvard Law in 2009, is now suing her Alma Mater for defamation. Specifically, they falsely accused her of plagiarism, giving her an unfair trial, and subsequently marring her permanent record so that a job that offered her a $160,000 yearly paycheck rescinded its offer, as have others, resulting, ultimately, in Walker moving back in with her parents.

“By the false allegation of plagiarism resulting in unfair branding of plaintiff as a cheat and as academically dishonest, defendants have destroyed everything plaintiff has worked so hard to achieve and what she desires, and the plaintiff is left daily with that shame, no job, alone with only the knowledge that unless she has relief from the court, she will never obtain what she has worked so hard to achieve and what she deserves,” said the complaint. It also read:

“However, in the early spring of 2009, that future was destroyed by the wrongful actions of defendants including the Law School, acting through its Associate Dean and Dean of Students Ellen Cosgrove, Administrative Board Chairperson and Dane Professor of Law Lloyd Weinreb, third-year law students Bradley Hamburger and Lindsay Kitzinger, and others not named herein,” according to the complaint. “In violation of plaintiff’s rights, these defendants acted together to falsely charge plaintiff with plagiarizing portions of a draft law article she had been writing for publication in the Law School’s ‘Journal of Law and Technology’ (‘JOLT’), one of the law journals operated at the Law School to publish scholarly work by students and other contributors. Plaintiff had worked on the draft. When it was nearing completion, the draft was badly damaged because the laptop computer on which she had saved the draft suffered a virus. Harvard disconnected her computer from the Harvard Network in order to quarantine the virus from spreading throughout the Law School computer system. The draft was severely damaged. It could thereafter be salvaged only in a fragmented and incomplete state, missing many of the portions that plaintiff had written.


“Because her article was supposed to have been turned in to the JOLT editors just after her draft was damaged, plaintiff gave a copy of what she could salvage of the draft to JOLT, but informed JOLT Editors-in-Chief defendants Hamburger and Kitzinger and various members of the JOLT editorial board that the draft was not finished, that it needed extensive work because her computer had malfunctioned causing her to lose portions of the draft, and that it was therefore not ready for final submission. Ignoring plaintiff’s explanation that the draft was not finished, defendants Kitzinger and Hamburger refused plaintiff’s repeated requests to do further work on the draft, most specifically to allow her to substantively revise, shorten and proofread the draft, to rewrite sections of the draft, and to make the proper source credits in the draft article. Instead, they treated the draft as finished and finally submitted even though it was clearly fragmented and incomplete. Defendants Hamburger and Kitzinger claimed to the Law School’s Administrative Board (which handled disciplinary matters) that plaintiff had plagiarized by not giving proper credit to various sources for the text used in her draft. They noted some incomplete source attributions, but failed to disclose that plaintiff had stated her intentions to add those sources and had given the full-text sources to JOLT just after she turned in her incomplete draft. Hamburger and Kitzinger thus treated as final and plagiarized an incomplete draft that had some missing sources because of a computer virus.”

Her story is that a computer virus ruined her work, and the board took her draft, used it unfairly, making her work look like plagiarism. It’s a nasty outfit considering she was writing the article for volunteer and sheerly for the love of technology, which related to her major as an undergrad.

After losing her prospect of $160,000 at Goodwin Proctor, and another “national firm” where she worked for 3 months before her bad record caught up with her, she feels she has no choice.

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“Exasperation is the reason she’s doing this now,” said her lawyer, John Markham II. “She has tried to put this behind her, but she has come to realize that as long as this is on her record, she will never have the legal career she believed she would.”



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