Lawyers for former Texas Tech professor Thomas Butler filed court papers yesterday (March 24) to appeal his December conviction and 2-year jail sentence for illegally shipping Tanzanian plague samples and for defrauding the university in unrelated research contracts.

However, it is not clear that Butler will actually appeal, his lawyer Floyd Holder said yesterday. Yesterday was the deadline for filing his appeal with the Lubbock, Texas, federal court. All his lawyers are opposed to it, Holder said, and they are trying to make a deal with prosecutors whereby Butler wouldn't pursue his appeal if the Department of Justice would promise not to appeal the judge's sentence, which is less than federal sentencing guidelines suggest.

According to William Greenough, a professor at Johns Hopkins University and a close friend of Butler's, Butler wants to appeal to clear his name because he believes he has done nothing wrong.

On March 10, a...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?