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N.C. Supreme Court candidate used N.C. Policy Watch article on campaign site without attribution – now apologizes

Judge Ola Lewis; Source, Judgepedia.org

A campaign website for a judge running for the state’s highest judicial seat posted an N.C. Policy Watch reporter’s article without attribution, leaving the false impression the article had been written by the judge.

Judge Ola Lewis, a Brunswick County Superior Court judge running to be the next chief justice at the N.C. Supreme Court, said a member of her campaign staff made a mistake in posting the article without proper attribution.

The Sept. 25 article, “Discretion at the Supreme Court” was written by Sharon McCloskey, N.C. Policy Watch’s courts and law reporter.

The entire text of McCloskey’s article about how cases comes before the state Supreme Court appeared on Lewis’ campaign website under a June 18th entry that stated (falsely) it was written by Lewis.

A click on the link brought up the text of McCloskey’s article, but with no mention that McCloskey – and not Lewis – had authored the piece.

Screen grab of Lewis' campaign website

Screen grab of Lewis’ campaign website

A second article by McCloskey titled “Business as usual at the Supreme Court” also appeared on Lewis’ website without any attribution. That piece (click here) was originally published in June 2013 on N.C. Policy Watch.

No members of Lewis’ campaign sought permission from N.C. Policy Watch to reprint the articles and no attribution had been added to the website as of Tuesday afternoon.

In a phone interview Tuesday, Lewis said she learned today that McCloskey’s article had been put up on her campaign website without attribution when a reporter for N.C.  Lawyers Weekly contacted her about the situation.

She apologized and said she did not intend to plagiarize McCloskey’s work.

“That was not our intent and I certainly know better,” Lewis said.

Lewis said she was aware the article had been posted, but said she did not mean to imply she had written it.

“I knew that the articles were posted but I did not click on to view how they were set up,” Lewis said. “I apologize in advance.”

Lewis is the senior resident Superior Court judge for Brunswick County and is currently running to be the next chief justice of the N.C. Supreme Court. Justice Sarah Parker is retiring this August when she turns 72, the mandatory retirement age for justices in North Carolina.

N.C. Supreme Court Justice Mark Martin is also seeking the seat, and Lewis’ decision in February to also run for the non-partisan judicial seat caught some by surprise this spring.

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