OUR last post on this topic was The Goal of the “Darwin’s Dilemma” Lawsuit. The next few indented paragraphs provide background information, which most of you can skip:
A lawsuit filed by the American Freedom Alliance (AFA) charges that the California Science Center (CSC) violated both the First Amendment and a contract to rent its theater when it canceled a screening of Darwin’s Dilemma. The AFA is an outfit promoting the controversy about evolution — in the interest of what they call “academic freedom.” The film they wanted to show is being heavily hyped by the Discoveroids. The theater owner getting sued is the California Science Center, which canceled a contract for showing the film, alleging that a Discoveroid press release violated a contract clause requiring their prior approval of all promotional materials.
The AFA alleges that the contract violation was a “false pretext” for cancellation of the screening contract. It’s really discrimination and a violation of the First Amendment, thus a violation of the AFA’s constitutional rights. The National Center for Science Education has all the court pleadings available online. See: American Freedom Alliance v. California Science Center et al.
Today’s big news in this litigation comes from the blog of the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids). Their article is titled: California Science Center to Pay Attorneys’ Fees and Settle Open Records Lawsuit by Intelligent Design Group. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:
The California Science Center (CSC) has agreed to settle a lawsuit with the pro-intelligent design Discovery Institute and release records that it previously sought to conceal regarding its cancellation of the screening of a pro-intelligent design film last year.
The suit is settled? Really? Let’s read on:
“After months of stonewalling by the Science Center, this is a huge victory for the public’s right to know what their government is doing, especially when the government engages in illegal censorship and viewpoint discrimination,” said Dr. John West, Associate Director of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture.
Westie says it’s a “huge victory.” Okay, what happened? We continue:
The Science Center continues to “deny any and all liability relating to the claims,” according to the settlement agreement. However, it agreed to pay Discovery Institute’s legal fees and to surrender more than a thousand pages of documents it had been withholding since they were requested under the California Public Records Act last year.
Cutting through all the spin about a huge victory, here’s how it looks to us: The Science Center continues to deny all liability, so the case isn’t settled. All that happened here is that the creationists won pre-trial motion over the production of some documents. That’s what has them all excited.
[CORRECTION: We didn’t realize that the Discoveroids had a separate Records Act suit pending. That’s what seems to be involved here. See: Discovery Institute v. California Science Center at the NCSE website.]
Pre-trial discovery is usually a routine matter in civil litigation. One side sends out interrogatories, the other side answers. One side schedules a deposition, the other side has the witness show up. One side requests documents, the other side produces them. If there’s a problem, the parties work it out. There are rules that govern the process, but most competent, reputable litigators do what they’re supposed to do without court supervision. Litigators tend to know each other, and they know that six months from now in another case their roles may be reversed. They may then be seeking the same kind of documents that the other side is now requesting from them. No one wants to be remembered as an uncooperative jackass.
But sometimes one side is believed to be over-reaching during discovery by seeking irrelevant or privileged material. That’s when an objection gets filed. Even then, most such issues are resolved by the lawyers. But if that can’t be done, the court will decide the matter. Judges don’t like to be bothered with discovery issues, so as a sanction, the winning side can be awarded legal fees for the time consumed by the procedural dispute. That way, uncooperative (or over-reaching) lawyers learn to be more cooperative the next time.
And that, dear reader, is what seems to have happened here. We don’t know the thinking behind the refusal to produce documents. Maybe it was stubbornness, or maybe it was a high-minded issue of principle that will ultimately get resolved on appeal. Anyway, at this point the creationists won a procedural motion, the documents will be produced, and the case will continue. Whoop-de-doo! One last excerpt:
“It was an obvious shell game,” explained Discovery Institute staff attorney Casey Luskin. “The California Science Center is a state agency funded by California taxpayers. The public has a right to expect transparency, not secrecy, in government institutions. The Science Center’s attempt to evade public accountability for its actions has been disgraceful.“
When Casey describes someone’s behavior as “disgraceful,” your Curmudgeon immediately reaches the opposite opinion.
Aha, here’s yet another aspect of this minor discovery motion. In the pages of WorldNetDaily, a wretched publication, we read Case over criticism of Darwin settled.
Case settled! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Here’s a small part of what WND says:
The Seattle-based Discovery Institute today it is settling a legal action against the science center in exchange for having the center pay its legal bills and provide literally hundreds of pages of documents it had sought.
While the science center continues to “deny any and all liability relating to the claims,” it has agreed to pay Discovery Institute’s legal fees and “surrender more than a thousand pages of documents it had been withholding since they were requested under the California Public Records Act,” according to Discovery Institute’s statement.
As we said, the creationists have won a procedural motion about document production. Strike up the band, pour out the booze, light the fireworks! We can’t wait for their next big victory. What will that be about? Maybe: Creationist learns to tie his shoes!
[CORRECTION (repeated): We didn’t realize that the Discoveroids had a separate Records Act suit pending. That’s what seems to be involved here. See: Discovery Institute v. California Science Center at the NCSE website.]
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