James Corbett: Not Liable for Legal Fees

OUR last update was here: James “Jesus Glasses” Corbett (01 Sep ‘09). Corbett is the California teacher whose classroom remarks that creationism is “superstitious nonsense” were ruled to have violated the Constitution’s establishment clause.

Until now, it wasn’t decided whether Corbett would be granted “qualified immunity,” which would affect the awarding of attorneys’ fees to Advocates for Faith & Freedom, the Murietta-based Christian legal group representing Chad Farnan, the creationist kid who complained about Corbett’s classroom remarks. Well, that’s been resolved now.

In the Orange County Register we read: Teacher not financially liable for disparaging Christians in class, subtitled: “A federal judge says James Corbett, 62, still violated a former student’s First Amendment rights.” Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:

A federal judge has ruled that high school history teacher James Corbett is not financially liable for disparaging Christians in class, in violation of a former student’s First Amendment rights.

A proper result. Let’s read on:

“Corbett is shielded from liability – not because he did not violate the Constitution, but because of the balance which must be struck to allow public officials to perform their duties,” Selna said in a 33-page decision issued from his Santa Ana courtroom.

That took 33 pages? [Addendum: Lnk to the court’s ruling (pdf file).]

We continue:

In a statement released Tuesday, Corbett said Farnan’s lawsuit was “needless and pointless” and that it had “sewn discord” in his life and ruined his reputation.

“In my opinion, Chad Farnan has been ill-served in this case,” Corbett said in the statement. “He may find admission to a quality non-Christian school challenging, because such institutions may try to avoid a student who has sued his teacher and his school without making any pre-lawsuit effort to discuss, much less resolve, his claims outside of court,” Corbett continued. “The school district has been ill-served because they have been forced to pay for a defense attorney in a case that, in my opinion, never should have been filed in the first place.”

Corbett makes sense. But the kid should be okay. He can always find a job at a creationist museum. Here’s more:

Farnan’s attorneys, who were working on the case on a pro-bono basis through a nonprofit Christian legal group, vowed to appeal the judge’s decision.

Of course they’re appealing. Doing a case “pro bono” sounds nice, but it’s ever so much nicer if there’s a pile of dough in it. If they can’t get a fat fee out of this, they may not be filing suits like this in the future.

“We feel the judge erred in his ruling,” said attorney Jennifer Monk of Murrietta-based Advocates for Faith & Freedom. “At the same time, we are happy with the May 1 ruling and it doesn’t not take away from the fact that Dr. Corbett violated the establishment clause.”

Yes, but they’d be far happier if there had been a fee award. Moving along:

In his lawsuit, Farnan did not seek monetary damages, but he asked that his former Advanced Placement European history teacher be fired or that the court issue an injunction barring Corbett from disparaging religion in class. Selna ruled against issuing such an injunction; Corbett remains in his teaching position at Capistrano Valley High.

It must be great for a teacher to have a creationist kid in class who files a suit and tries to get him fired. It really encourages stimulating classroom discussions.

There’s more information in the article. Click over and read it. Meanwhile, we’ll be awaiting the appeal. And to Mr. Corbett: Congratulations on how things went today. We’re with you!

Copyright © 2009. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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4 responses to “James Corbett: Not Liable for Legal Fees

  1. Thanks

    Jim

  2. jim corbett says “Thanks”

    Hey, all I’ve done is blog about it. You’re the guy who’s had to live through this mess. Our thanks go to you.

  3. Hi Jim! Keep up the good fight!

    One quibble point: “Corbett said Farnan’s lawsuit was “needless and pointless” and that it had “sewn discord” in his life and ruined his reputation.”

    Did you really say “sewn”? I would have thought “sown” or “sowed” would be the correct word.

  4. You’re right Roger.