Appeals Court Applicant Withdraws After Plagiarism Discovery

Jun 14, 2019

An attorney pulled her application for an Arizona Court of Appeals judgeship Friday after it became public that she plagiarized U.S. Supreme Court justices in her submission.

Arizona Supreme Court spokesman Aaron Nash confirmed that Kristina Reeves asked to withdraw from consideration.

Reeves had sent in a revised application after Arizona Chief Justice Scott Bales raised questions about passages that were apparently copied earlier this week. Bales' assistant emailed Reeves Tuesday noting that her statement as to why she was seeking the post "in several places quotes verbatim from Justice Neil Gorsuch's 2017 opening statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee, although your statement does not attribute these remarks to him. Chief Justice Bales has asked me to call this to your attention."

Reeves responded minutes later, saying she appreciated Bales bringing the issue to her attention.

"It certainly was not my intention to include anything inappropriate in my statement, and I apologize for any concern anything in my statement may have raised," Reeves wrote. "While I do not believe there is anything in my statement that is improper, I would prefer to simply eliminate any concern. Is it possible for me to submit a substitute statement of interest for my application?"

review by Arizona Capitol Times later that day found passages directly copied from Gorsuch and fellow Justice Samuel Alito.

A receptionist for Reeves' office said Friday that she declined comment other than to say she was no longer seeking the judgeship. Reeves is an appellate attorney in private practice who previously worked on appeals the Arizona Attorney General's Office.

The application was one of 11 received by the state Commission on Appellate Court Appointments for an opening created when Gov. Doug Ducey elevated Court of Appeals Judge James Beene to the state Supreme Court. The commission includes 10 members of the public and five attorney members who are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate. The state high court's chief justice chairs the panel.

The commission vets and interviews candidates and then sends a list of at least three potential nominees to the governor, who makes the final choice.