David Coppedge vs. JPL (27 Jun 2010)

OUR last post on this topic was David Coppedge vs. JPL (18 Jun 2010). There we reported that after almost two months, Coppedge’s lawyer had managed to get the complaint served on a couple of defendants, apparently in anticipation of a case management conference which the court had scheduled for 24 June.

If you haven’t been following this case, the next few indented paragraphs will provide background information, which most of you can skip:

This is about a suit by a creationist, David Coppedge, who claims he was wrongfully demoted by his employer because he was promoting Intelligent Design (ID) on the job. He works for Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), He also maintains a creationist website: Creation-Evolution Headlines.

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 seems to be mostly a personal injury and workers’ comp lawyer.

To promote the issue, the Discoveroids are waging 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.

The official information source for the Coppedge case requires payment of a small fee to 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.

Okay, we’re all up to date. So what’s been happening during the past week — especially regarding that case management conference? We visited the court’s website to see what could be learned from their free information. We still haven’t paid the fee to the court clerk to read the actual documents, because they’re not yet of sufficient importance.

A few more defendants appear to have been served, including Clark A. Burgess (the only one whose name we can determine). He’s described in the Coppedge complaint as Coppedge’s “Group Supervisor” at JPL.

On 15 June (there’s obviously a delay before these things show up at the court’s website) Coppedge’s lawyer filed something called a “Declaration of Diligence.” We’re guessing that this relates his thus-far unsuccessful efforts to get somebody served. Maybe that’s JPL itself, because Coppedge and his lawyer haven’t yet determined whether it’s a corporation or just a part of Caltech.

What about the case management conference? In the court’s listing of Proceedings Held it says:

06/24/2010 at 09:00 am in Department 71, Soussan G. Bruguera, Presiding. Conference-Case Management – Advanced to a Previous Date

“Advanced to a Previous Date” — what is that? Until someone familiar with California litigation procedure informs us, it’s a complete mystery. How can something be “advanced” to a previous date? Does the courthouse have a time machine? And what previous date are they talking about?

The hearing hasn’t been reset to a later date, because in the section titled Future Hearings it says “None” — at least nothing shows up yet at the court’s website. Maybe they have an alternate time-line for listing “previous dates that haven’t come up yet,” but our internet connection doesn’t access that information.

For the moment, we can’t figure out what’s happening. Things seem to be moving forward, albeit slowly. Except when they might be moving backward — by being advanced to a previous date.

And so, dear reader, we must leave you with several questions unresolved. Will the Discoveroids win the imaginary constitutional right of an employee to harangue his workplace colleagues about the joys of creationism? Or will Coppedge lose his case but serve the Discoveroids in another way — by joining that woeful legion of martyred creationists who have been Expelled for daring to question the theory of evolution?

The suspense is building. Stay tuned to this blog!

Update: See Discovery Institute: Comer, Coppedge, & Casey.

Next update: See Coppedge vs. JPL: Caltech’s Answer Filed.

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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5 responses to “David Coppedge vs. JPL (27 Jun 2010)

  1. A defendant has filed a “CCP 170.6 Application” (on 06/16/2010). From Google, this appears to be a peremptory challenge of the presiding judge for alleged prejudice. Oddly enough, on 05/12/2010 an “Affidavit of Prejudice ” was “Granted” by the presiding judge, leading to a “Reassignment of Case – Transferred to different departmnt” on 05/20/2010.

    It appears that this case may be up for another round of musical chairs, so that the next hearing hasn’t been set until it is certain which judge will be hearing it.

  2. Hrafn says: “… a peremptory challenge of the presiding judge for alleged prejudice.”

    When you sue both JPL and Caltech on their home turf, it’s probably difficult to find a judge who doesn’t have some contact with them.

  3. retiredsciguy

    “A defendant has filed a “CCP 170.6 Application””

    Isn’t the defendant JPL? Do they feel the presiding judge is a creationist?

  4. retiredsciguy asks:

    Isn’t the defendant JPL? Do they feel the presiding judge is a creationist?

    They’re one of several defendants, and we can’t tell if they’ve been served yet. Without reading what was filed, there’s no way to know the reasons for the request.

  5. Just like Kitzmiller the DI is just on the edge of the case.

    Not close enough to be committed, but close enough to be involved.

    Clapping from the sidelines, Go Coppedge, Go!