Anderson, Christopher. "Hearing Process Proves a Challenge for ORI," Science 260 (18 June

 

Anderson, Christopher. "Hearing Process Proves a Challenge for ORI," Science 260 (18 June
1993), p. 1714.

The first public case to be "tried" by the ORI involves Mikulas Popovic who specifically
requested that his case be a public one. And the public process has all the legal characteristics
lawyers can give it. Indeed, the "judge" in this hearing has imposed a very stern dictum: ORI
must demonstrate that the accused is guilty of misconduct, that the "error" could not be the result
of a mistake!

Bombshell. The ORI must shoulder the burden of proof! The Adjudications Panel is going to be a
legal proceeding. This initial limitation will, of course, set a precedent for the rest of the cases to
be heard.

"The facts in the case have been aired long and often in the nearly 4 years Popovic and Gallo
have been under investigation, and little new evidence or arguments were raised in the first week
of Popovic's hearing. What was new was the format of the appeal. In the past, the opportunity for
a court-like hearing was restricted to those cases where federal officials recommended that a
scientist be barred from receiving federal funds for some period. In all other cases, the only
avenue of appeal was to respond to a draft report in writing, but without the opportunity to cross
examine witnesses or examine evidence. (One case has already gone through the new process,
but it was closed to the public in May due to an administrative mix-up... Popovic specifically
requested that his hearing be opened.

"Indications that ORI was going to have an uphill struggle in this courtroom setting emerged
even before the hearing, during a preliminary conference between Ford (judge in this case) and
the two groups of attorneys. In preparing their case, ORI attorneys had operated on the
assumption that they must how that there had been falsification, but that the burden of proof
would be on the defense to show that any inaccuracies were due to honest error. But Ford ruled
that ORI itself must prove that the incorrect passages could not have been ‘honest error or an
honest difference in interpretation.'

The procedural decisions are all legalese. The ORI is reported to be disappointed that it has been
unable to get scientists to participate in this process.