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Grand Forks Herald, June 2, 1995


Associated Press

Plagiarism allegations against a UND professor and a Department of Public Instruction administrator should be heard by a jury, the North Dakota Supreme Court says.

In a unanimous decision Thursday, the court said Joyce Burr's allegations that the two pilfered material from her doctoral thesis may not be covered by the legal protections normally afforded state employees.

Burr is suing Donald Lemon, a UND professor of education, and Cheryl Kulas, director of Indian education for the Department of Public Instruction, for more than $3 million in damages.

Lemon and Kulas deny any wrongdoing, their lawyers said Thursday. Burr has filed a separate lawsuit against another UND education professor, Richard Landry, whom she claims was involved in the scheme. Landry also has denied wrongdoing.

The Supreme Court's opinion, written by Chief Justice Gerald VandeWalle, says Lemon and Kulas may be sued as individuals, outside their official duties.

Sara Gullickson, an assistant attorney general who is representing Kulas, said the ruling means the two may be responsible for paying damages should a jury conclude they were reckless. ``I think that's highly unlikely,'' Gullickson said.

Burr, of Minot, kept an office at UND while she worked on her doctoral thesis. It was intended to gauge the effects of a 1981 education rule that required prospective teachers to have some training in American Indian studies.

She contends that while she recuperated from a kidney transplant in March 1989, Lemon ordered a secretary to copy computer diskettes in Burr's office that held much of her doctoral research. Lemon was Burr's faculty adviser.

The information was passed to Kulas and Landry who used it to in their own research papers, Burr's lawsuit alleges.