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Nancy Grace Plagiarist

WWW- CNN/Court TV host Nancy Grace has denied that her merciless grilling of Florida mother Melinda Duckett about her missing 2-year-old son drove the unbalanced woman to kill herself. Last week, authorities backed up Grace’s suspicion of Duckett when they named the deceased mom as the prime suspect in the boy’s disappearance.

But Grace may not be able to shake off a plagiarism charge.

Last year, Hyperion published Grace’s book “Objection! How High-Priced Defense Attorneys, Celebrity Defendants, and a 24/7 Media Have Hijacked Our Criminal Justice System.”

Grace was happy to hype the book, which spent five weeks on The New York Times best-seller list. She was less eager to draw attention to the fact that she’d lifted huge, verbatim passages in the book from that newspaper.

Grace notes in the book’s bibliography that she drew on an Aug. 5, 2002, “Patents” column by Sabra Chartrand about a device that allows parents to track their children. But it was only after the book was out in hardcover that she acknowledged how much of pages 204 and 205 came from the article – 359 words, to be exact.

Sources say Hyperion president Robert S. Miller was willing to accept Grace’s claim that it was an “inadvertent” error. But he insisted that Grace alert The Times in a letter that promised the “error” would be fixed in future printings.

Word is, Grace refused to write that letter – provoking Hyperion’s lawyers to remind her that, under her contract, she was responsible to hold the publisher harmless if The Times sued over copyright infringement.

Hyperion insisted on making the changes in the paperback edition of “Objection!”

The usually vocal Grace doesn’t seem eager to talk about the episode. A Court TV rep told us to contact Hyperion, which didn’t return calls. Grace’s lawyer, Paul Julian, also didn’t return a call by deadline, nor did her collaborator, Diane Clehane.

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