David Coppedge Trial: The Decision!

Judge Ernest Hiroshige will rule against Coppedge.

At last, dear reader,the court has signaled its decision in the trial of the suit filed by David Coppedge, the creationist who claims he was wrongfully demoted and later fired by his employer because he was promoting Intelligent Design (ID) on the job. As you recall, he used to work as a computer technician for Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which is part of Caltech. He also maintains a creationist website:Creation-Evolution Headlines — which was recently moved here.

The trial ended on 16 April, which was six and a half months ago. The decision has been a long time coming, and it’s been a long time since we gave you any background information, so we’ll repeat some of our older material here. Most of you can skip the next few indented paragraphs:

This is a big case for the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids). They’re trying to establish some new kind constitutional right — an employee’s freedom to promote creationism in the workplace. One of their top legal talents, Discoveroid Casey Luskin, is advising the lawyer for Coppedge — that’s William J. Becker, Jr., who (until he picked up a few creationist clients) appears to be mostly a personal injury and workers’ comp lawyer.

To promote the issue, the Discoveroids initially waged a public relations campaign which we described here: The Coppedge Case: A Study in Tactics and Strategy. They’ve set up a page devoted to this case, which is here. That page has sometimes languished for months, but now it has links to a lot of pro-Coppedge material.

The official information source for the Coppedge case requires payment of fees to obtain copies of pleadings from the court clerks here: Superior Court of California, Los Angeles. At the box for “Case Number” you need to enter BC435600. Some minimal information is available for free — the names of the parties and their lawyers, a list of what documents have been filed, what proceedings have been held, and what future hearings have been scheduled. The trial’s over, so that’s all moot now.

The court’s latest order isn’t yet posted in the archive maintained by our friends at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), located here: NCSE’s Coppedge archive. They’ve paid all the court’s fees to obtain those pleadings, which are scans of pdf files. As soon as they have the latest order, we’ll give you a link, and perhaps an excerpt or two.

[Addendum: NCSE has the ruling HERE. Note that it’s dated 31 October, which is Halloween.]

Until then, we’re relying on an AP news report which we can’t quote. It appears in the Times Union located in Albany, New York. Their headline is Employee not let go over intelligent design.

It says that the judge has decided to rule against Coppedge, and he’s ordered the lawyers (presumably the JPL lawyers) to draft a final order within 30 days. None of the lawyers has made any comment to the press.

That’s all we’ve got at the moment. When we learn more we’ll let you know.

Addendum: Here’s Westie’s link to a court clerk’s memo about the judge’s order, which is very brief. The operative part says: “Th [sic] court would enter judgment in favor of the Defendants on all causes of action.” That means it’s a clean sweep — nothing for the alleged wrongful demotion or the later dismissal.

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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44 responses to “David Coppedge Trial: The Decision!

  1. SC, the first sentence of your last paragraph states, “It says that the judge has decided to rule for Coppedge,”. I think you meant the opposite.

  2. Charley Horse

    You got the title right but in your excitement…understandably…
    you substituted Coppedge for JPL in the second to last paragraph.

  3. Charley Horse

    I suppose this is when the lawyers might discuss a deal
    to end this. IE no appeals or further suits started by Coppedge
    against JPL for no reimbursement to JPL for legal costs or
    lesser costs.

    If Coppedge hasn’t made himself “judgment proof” before now,
    I suppose he has a few days to do that. But it would be playing it close to the wire.

  4. Well, boo, I had my coppedge filter set in Google News and nothing showed up. Anyway, let the fireworks begin!

  5. I have a great picture of Albert Einstein riding
    a bicycle. And the devil said “You can have wealth and power if you sell me your soul”.
    Counselor replied “Yes but what’s the catch”?

  6. Judge Ernest Hiroshige said Thursday he is leaning in favor of JPL’s argument that David Coppedge instead was let go because he was combative and did not keep his skills sharp.

    Hiroshige, who presided over the lawsuit’s trial in April, ordered a final ruling to that effect be drawn up and distributed within 30 days.

    Help me out SC. “…leaning in favor of JPL’s argument…” In non-legalese, what does leaning mean? And what does ‘drawing up a final order to that effect’ mean?

    Also, can Coopedge now appeal this decision, ala Freshwater, and keep this trial going forever?

  7. I can’t wait to hear what the Discoveroids have to say.

  8. I predict one of two possible reactions from the dishonesty institute.

    One: They white wash their website and pretend the Coppedge incident never happened, they might try this, but they could never explain away all the support they gave him, and they would look foolish trying to hide it.

    Two: They spin it into a false positive. Coppedge becomes another victim of the “Darwinist Conspiracy.” They will spin a story and complain about how Coppedge was cruelly and unjustly “expelled” for his beliefs, after a couple of months of playing the persecution card, Coppedge will fade from memory and become another speed bump on the dishonesty institute’s agenda. This one is the most likely reaction and it will not surprise me.

  9. Justin impatiently declares

    I can’t wait to hear what the Discoveroids have to say.

    But there is rarely (if indeed ever) an occasion when one cannot accurately predict what the Discoveroids will say about virtually anything.

    When one is wholly fettered by unquestioned a priori axioms and vehemently refuses to engage in any form of empirical investigation or analysis, ones answers are determined well in advance of the posing of any question.

    In this present instance, I should think the readers of this excellent blog could readily write the Discoveroid’s boilerplate response to this one with their eyes closed: it’s all just more damning proof of the malign machinations of the fell Satanic Darwintern Conspiracy for the Promotion of Godlessness, Cannibalism, and the Heartbreak of Psoriasis, and part of the insidious plan of its unspeakably evil founder, Karl Darwin

  10. I agree with Megalonyx — we already know exactly what the Discoveroids will say. Just refer to their response to the Dover trial and “activist” judge J.E. Jones, and change the names around.

  11. Gary says: “I think you meant the opposite.”

    Yup. How embarrassing! All fixed now.

  12. DavidK says:

    Help me out SC. “…leaning in favor of JPL’s argument…” In non-legalese, what does leaning mean? And what does ‘drawing up a final order to that effect’ mean?

    Appellate courts draft their own orders, but what Judge Jones did in the Kitzmiller case is unusual. Trial judges rarely draft their own orders. Well, anyway I’m told that’s the way it almost always is for routine hearings. After the two lawyers have argued, the judge says to one of them that he’s granting the motion and that he should submit an order. I’m also told it’s not unusual for each side to bring pre-drafted orders to the hearing, and the winning side gets it signed on the spot.

    The final order after a trial is apparently a more complicated matter. Judge Jones did his own — after having both sides submit their proposed findings of fact and law — so he had a lot to work with. Here, I guess the judge just wants JPL to write it for him; and I suppose that before it’s signed, the other side can haggle about the order’s wording, so that the issues will be clearly stated for an appeal — which is sure to come if there’s no settlement now.

  13. The only news this morning is that various newspapers are repeating the same AP story. Nothing yet from the Discoveroids. Well, there’s really nothing to be said until the final order gets signed — but they’ll be grumbling.

  14. You mention that Judge Jones in the Kitzmiller case drafting his own order as not the usual thing. Yet even though Jones wrote his own decision, remember that the losers complained that he borrowed some of his language in that decision.

  15. It’s astounding how many news sites / papers are carrying the AP story this morning. The DI, given their nature, is almost certain to issue a press release claiming foul play. Klinger will predictably write a snarky post about Darwinian conspiracy. However, nothing they do will reach anywhere near as many people as the AP story.

  16. I am not licensed to practice in California, so please take my opinion with a grain of salt. Federal Judges are given a large support staff, including secretary, clerks, research attorneys, etc. Therefore “the Judge” (actually the clerks, research attorney, and judge) will write their own opinion at the trial (District) and appellate (Circuit) level.

    Much of this has to do with allocation of resources. In Michigan we have some trial courts that equally have such resources, and therefore the trial courts write their own opinions. Other jurisdictions do not, and request the attorneys do so. My suspicion (again, I am not familiar with Los Angeles Superior Court) is the Judge has informed the attorneys his opinion and asked them to write out the legalese for the court to adopt.

    And on an unrelated note, I am guessing the Discoveroids just let the topic drop and never mention Coppedge again. They have moved on, and wrung enough material from the trial. To mention it again only raises difficulties explaining it away. No one is asking what happened other than pesky skeptics.

  17. DavidK asked:

    “Also, can Coopedge now appeal this decision, ala Freshwater, and keep this trial going forever?”

    I’ll be surprised if a decision against Coppedge isn’t appealed, and I don’t think that the IDiots who have been supporting and pushing the litigation are concerned with what’s best for Coppedge. He’s just a pawn in their dominionist crusade. They’re really unlikely to accept a defeat and they likely think that they have nothing to lose by pushing the case as far as they can, if for no other reasons than the self-serving spin they will put on it and the publicity they can milk from it.

  18. Forget to mention…

    Discoveroids CAN’T complain about “activist judges.” Remember, it was Coppedge (not the Defendants) who specifically, intentionally and deliberately rescinded their own request for a jury trial. If they were so afraid of an “activist judge” they should have kept the jury trial they requested.

    We need to keep their feet to the fire on that one.

    (In Dover, because an injunction was requested, a jury trial was not an option.)

  19. DagoodS said:

    “And on an unrelated note, I am guessing the Discoveroids just let the topic drop and never mention Coppedge again. They have moved on, and wrung enough material from the trial. To mention it again only raises difficulties explaining it away. No one is asking what happened other than pesky skeptics.”

    You may be right (time will tell) but something to consider is that IDiot-creationists like to beat a dead horse long after there’s nothing left of it. Since they don’t have any positive scientific evidence or rational arguments to support their antiquated religious beliefs and dishonest ID agenda, beating decomposed horses is about all they can do.

  20. TomS says: “Yet even though Jones wrote his own decision, remember that the losers complained that he borrowed some of his language in that decision.”

    Yes, but they ought to know better. When the trial ends and the judge tells both sides to submit “proposed findings of fact and law” for him to consider, it’s inevitable that his final opinion will be cut ‘n pasted from the lawyers’ documents, and most of the opinion’s language will come from the winning side. It’s not plagiarism (as Casey keeps insisting), it’s that the judge agreed with that side of the case.

  21. DagoodS,

    That’s a good point about Coppedge rescinding his request for a jury trial. I can’t help but wonder why he did that though. I would think that he and his attorney would have thought that they would fare better with a jury. They’re probably regretting their decision now.

  22. SC,

    You’re right, it’s not plagiarism.

    I was involved (pro se) in a court case once where I prevailed and the judge asked me what I wanted his order to say. I told him and he turned to the court clerk and said “Write it up that way.” I went back the next day and his order was written exactly as I had requested.

  23. The whole truth

    I just want to add that casey luskin is not only totally inept at science but he obviously doesn’t have a clue about what goes on in courtrooms either. I doubt that he’s ever been in one. Doesn’t he claim to be a lawyer?

    By the way, the “Anonymous” posts above are mine. I cleared my cookies earlier tonight and forgot to sign in again with my user name until now.

  24. I cleared my cookies just a few minutes ago and feel a lot better now!

  25. IDiots ignore data that runs counter to their conclusions. Therefore, as usual denial/ignoring is the order of the day here for the Dishonesty Institute. I predict Klinglebarfman will be writing the humor piece on this one, based on what I have learned on SC’s site about how the ‘roids operate.

  26. Nothing yet from the Discoveroids.

  27. Seem strangely anti-climatic at the moment.

    The fun will be reading the decision and watching the Discoveroids react. That could provide days of entertainment.

  28. The ‘roids have spoken: “if Coppedge doesn’t receive his vindication in the courts, the problems of bigotry and discrimination at taxpayer-funded JPL that his case exposed will become all the more pressing as a matter of public policy.”

    Oh,puh-leez …

  29. Your Curmudgeon, always helpful, has begun to draft a response for the Discoveroids. It will begin like this:

    In a move that can only be described as a Darwinist attack from the pit of hell, Judge Ernest Hiroshige indicated that he will issue a Satanic, discriminatory, and unconstitutional ruling against David Coppedge, the heroic creation scientist who led NASA’s Cassini mission to Saturn, and whose only “crime” was that he tried to enlighten his co-workers about the wonders of creation, for which he was cruelly dismissed.

  30. Good start. But consider changing “…Judge Ernest Hiroshige indicated…” to “…activist in black robes Ernest Hiroshige indicated…”

  31. We have a reaction from the Discoveroids, and it’s by Westie: Tentative Ruling in Coppedge Discrimination Case against NASA’S Jet Propulsion Lab. It’s just what we would expect. But he helpfully gives a link to the judge’s order, which says:

    “Th [sic] court would enter judgment in favor of the Defendants on all causes of action.”

  32. Sic, ‘em, Tooters! Who needs a judge anyway! The facts are clear, judge for yourself. Poor old Coppy was just trying to be friendly and helpful. He gave out CD’s while standing in the snow, both ways. Sadder violin music could not be played. Such a pity, such a pity!

    Curse you, mean old JPL with your fancy-dancy scientists and high falootin’ Human Resources with all their unfair rules and regulations. And your little dog, too!

  33. Charley Horse

    QUOTE West: ” Because we don’t know the final ruling in this case yet…”
    West either doesn’t understand what he reads or is suffering
    from a serious case of denial.

    Or maybe the word “tentative” has him confused.

  34. Sandy delayed …

    West either doesn’t understand what he reads or is suffering
    from a serious case of denial.

    Or maybe the word “tentative” has him confused.

    Third possibility: he’s lying through his teeth because he knows his audience is willing to believe, if they are given any excuse. Ergo, any excuse, no matter how lame, will be offered, no matter how transparently false and how much lying it takes.

  35. johnpieret says: “Third possibility: he’s lying through his teeth”

    Regardless of what he wrote, I think West understands the situation. Or he certainly should. It was the AP news article that used the word “tentative” and said that the judge was “leaning in favor” of ruling for Coppedge. That’s really not accurate. The trial’s over and judge flat-out says that he’s going to sign a judgement against Coppedge on all causes of action. JPL’s lawyers need to draft the document, and Coppedge’s lawyer will get a chance to fuss over the wording, but the end result is a done deal. It’s not “tentative.” It’s happening — but it’s not yet in the form of a final order.

  36. One reason to not have a jury trial is if your client is argumentative, stubborn, bullying, and overbearing.

  37. Beautiful.

    I think all of the regular discoveroids will have their say over the next week or so – we’ll get snark from Kling, pseudo-legal critique from Casey, etc. Much amusement awaits.

  38. SC said:

    Regardless of what he wrote, I think West understands the situation.

    Exactly. Doesn’t matter what he wrote, or believes, or wants to believe. It’s over. Done. Fini. Complete. The end. Tell the fat lady to sing. By 30 November (by my reckoning), we’ll have the final documents which will tell us how bad the spanking will be.
    Pull down yer drawers, Coppedge. This is going to hurt.

  39. All I can say, is its about darn time.

    Oh look, cookies!

  40. The tentative part is that the document is not the final decision, signed, sealed and delivered. The judge is just letting the parties know that Coppers lost on all counts but the actual score is not yet written.

    Check out the ruling HERE.

    “The court would enter judgement in favor of the Defendants on all causes of action.”

    That’s the money quote right there.

    Poor old Westie! Too bad he didn’t have Legal Beagle Lawyer Luskin interpret the document for him. Don’t the Tutes have any lawyers in the house? Bueler? Bueler?

  41. The whole truth

    Has luskin ever been the attorney of record in a court case? Has he ever actually ‘practiced’ law?

    What have any of the discotute IDiots ever accomplished in real life?

  42. Doc Bill says: “Check out the ruling HERE.”

    Thanks. I knew NCSE would get around to posting it. I’ve added that to the original post.

  43. Finally, after some delay the discussion of Coppedge’s case gained momentum at uncommondescent.com.

  44. Ha, sparc, the first commenter is creationist gadfly and professional know-nothing “leebowman” vomiting up his standard line of persecuted creationist nonsense. Yeah, the evil courts! Of course, his fantasies are the Party Line over at UD. Teh whole world again’ us, I tell ye!