“How Dare Universities Charge Such High Tuition?” KABOOM!* #1: Georgetown University Law Center



James Feinerman, the James M. Morita Professor of Asian Legal Studies at Georgetown University Law Center, who also serves as its associate dean for transnational programs, was hired by the U.S. government as an expert witness  to bolster the prosecution in a spying case, and apparently plagiarized a substantial potion of the report submitted to the court from <sigh–there goes that value of THAT degree> Wikipedia.The defense picked up on the uncited cribbing and the federal court is now examining whether the sources used by Wikipedia are reliable enough for his report to be accorded any validity. The Government, meanwhile, represented by assistant U.S. attorneys Peter Axelrod and John Hemann, is stuck with making desperate “ahumunahumuna” sounds like Ralph Kramden used to do on “The Honeymooners” when he was caught looking stupid and spouting lame arguments in court filings about how Feinerman “utilized language from Wikipedia as a concise English-language summary of his opinions on certain topics.”


The U.S. hired Feinerman, who charges $350 an hour to cut and paste from Wikipedia, something any middle schooler will do for free, to testify at the upcoming January trial of Walter Liew, indicted for conspiring to steal trade secrets from DuPont for China’s Pangang Group Co.  U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White will be ruling soon on the defense’s request to have Professor Feinerman disqualified as an expert. It  doesn’t look good for a prestigious and high-priced law school when one of its dean is disqualified as being an expert for engaging in conduct that would get any law student suspended or worse.

Dean Feinerman has been a Georgetown Law Center faculty member for more than 25 years. He has taught law at two Chinese universities, speaks fluent Mandarin and Cantonese, co-edited two books about China and testified about China’s information control practices before Congress. He was even awarded a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 1989. So much for the predictive value of credentials.

My questions would be…

  • What other corners has he cut during his career? Has the school carefully checked the veracity of his credentials? Did it ever?
  • Did the MacArthur Foundation? Is it going to ask for a refund of its “genius” grant, or is it just a special kind of genius who collects $350 dollars an hour to prepare an expert report that is  just copied off the same internet resource I caught my son copying from when he was 11?
  • Is the Morita family going to get its endowment back? There is nothing like the prestige of having your dead Georgetown alum’s name being associated with  the cheating, lazy and dishonest academic occupying his University Chair.
  • When are the Georgetown students who took courses from him going to see a partial refund of their tuition?
  • Will the D.C. Bar be looking at this as a cause for discipline? I’ll be filing my complaint today or tomorrow, as this tells me that “another lawyer has committed a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct that raises a substantial question as to that lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects,” per Rule 8.3, and thus I must “inform the appropriate professional authority.”
  • What is Georgetown going to do about this? If Feinerman has any sense of honor and respect for the institution he just embarrassed and disgraced, he will voluntarily resign, retire, or join the witness protection program in shame.

For the money universities charge for a legal education, students should have an enforceable warranty when law professors and law deans behave like this.

*Explanatory Note: A Kaboom! is a special Ethics Alarms designation for unethical conduct so ridiculous and egregious that it makes my head explode whil reading about it one or more times.


Pointer: Above the Law

Facts: Bloomberg


3 thoughts on ““How Dare Universities Charge Such High Tuition?” KABOOM!* #1: Georgetown University Law Center

  1. assistant U.S. attorneys Peter Axelrod

    Do we know if this man is any relation to a certain David?

    Also, I will buy dinner for the first student to crib heavily from wiki for any class where that man is dean and uses the excuse of “I just ‘utilized language from Wikipedia as a concise English-language summary of [my] opinions on certain topics.'”

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