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Attorney plagiarizes Supreme Court justices in quest to join Arizona Court of Appeals

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch during his confirmation hearing in 2017. (Wikimedia Commons)

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch during his confirmation hearing in 2017. (Wikimedia Commons)

An applicant for the Arizona Court of Appeals plagiarized multiple memorable passages from confirmation hearings for two U.S. Supreme Court justices.

Kristina Reeves, an attorney in private practice and former assistant attorney general, is one of 11 applicants hoping to fill a seat on the Court of Appeals vacated by the appointment of Justice James Beene to the Arizona Supreme Court.

Her plagiarism came in answering the question on the application of why she is seeking the appointment.

Comparing each line from her answer through a Google search proves she directly copy and pasted passages from speeches by Justices Neil Gorsuch and Samuel Alito.

Reeves stole multiple passages of Gorsuch’s confirmation speech to the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2017, altering it minimally to suit her gender. In a passage stolen from Gorsuch’s speech, Reeves wrote that she wants to don the “honest black polyester” robe and become part of an honest judiciary.

“Putting on a robe should remind a judge that it’s time to lose her ego, and open her mind,” she wrote.

Gorsuch also mentioned “honest black polyester.”

“Putting on a robe reminds us that it’s time to lose our egos and open our minds,” he told the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2017.

Reeves also stole word-for-word a passage from Alito’s confirmation speech to the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2006.

He argued a good judge is “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.”

Her opening passage about why she wants to be a judge is particularly brazen – she lifted verbatim a 120-word passage from Gorsuch’s speech, removing only Gorsuch’s reference to “this body” as he spoke before Congress. She didn’t cite the justices at any point in her application.

According to her application, Reeves has never been denied admission to any state’s Bar association due to her character and fitness screening and according to the State Bar of Arizona, she’s in good standing.

Story continues after document.


Side by Side Comparison (Text)

The Arizona Bar said there’s nothing in its Rules of Professional Conduct that explicitly bans plagiarism, though there are other rules that Reeves may have broken.

Rule 8.4(c) states that it is professional misconduct to knowingly “engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.”

Deputy Chief Bar Counsel Amy Rehm said in an emailed statement that if the Bar received a complaint, “we would closely examine the facts to determine whether it constitutes a violation of this [or any other] rule.”

It is not known if this was an isolated incident or if Reeves has plagiarized before. She did not respond to multiple calls or an email for comment.

In 2017, Reeves was admitted to practice law before the United States Supreme Court; and according to her law firm’s website, she is a member of the Federalist Society and the Arizona Women’s Lawyers Association, among other organizations.

She’s a founding partner of Reeves Maxwell,  and she previously worked in the Capital Litigation section of the Attorney General’s Office, which handles death penalty cases at the appellate level. She was also an officer in the Judge Advocate General Corps of the U.S. Navy.

Doug Cole, the COO of Highground Public Affairs Consultants and former member of the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments, was surprised by the examples of plagiarism and said in his 15 years of vetting judicial applicants, “I haven’t seen anything like this.”

Cole said it’s likely the current commission will still do its due diligence for Reeves, but not as likely she advances to the first interview that’s scheduled for July 26. He said candidates in the past have not advanced for less. Typographical errors or grammar have resulted in past candidates not advancing to the interview, he said.

Reeves can also opt to withdraw her application, which Cole said has been done before, but not for this type of situation.

In her application, Reeves was also asked if she has “ever been terminated, asked to resign, expelled, or suspended from employment or any post-secondary school or course of learning due to allegations of dishonesty, plagiarism, cheating, or any other ‘cause’ that might reflect in any way on your integrity?”

She answered, “No.”

Reeves states she has been Republican since 1993, she has a military background, and received her law degree at the University of Chicago in 2003, where President Barack Obama was one of her professors.

Cole said if she had been a Democrat, things would be different.

The commission has a rule to submit a minimum of three names to the governor, with no more than two representing the same political party. If more than three names are submitted, then no more than 60 percent can be the same party.

Out of the 11 who applied for the appellate court vacancy, just two are Democrats.

Cole said the commission usually tries to submit five names to the governor, so if one of the Democrats were in Reeves’ situation, they would be Constitutionally obligated to send both no matter what, or only submit three names. “Otherwise you’re tying your hands … There’s no way around it. It’s in the Constitution,” he said.


Kristina Reeves Application (Text)

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Tags: Plagiarism, U..S. Supreme Court, Doug Cole, State Bar of Arizona, Samuel Alito, Court of Appeals, Neil Gorsuch, HighGround, Kristina Reeves