David Coppedge vs. JPL & Caltech (03 Sep 2010)

A full month has passed since we posted Coppedge vs. JPL: Caltech’s Answer Filed, so it’s time for an update. The next few indented paragraphs provide background information, which most of you can skip:

This is 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.

We checked with the court’s website, and nothing new has been filed, nor are any hearings scheduled. So what’s happening? The apparent inactivity isn’t because the parties are busily engaging in discovery procedures, because were that going on, things like interrogatory notices and deposition subpoenas would be filed with the court and they’d show up in our search. Then what accounts for the lull?

We observed something like this 90 days ago, and that’s when we posted David Coppedge vs. JPL: Strange Silence. We speculated that the parties might be operating under a “standstill agreement” while they were discussing a possible settlement. Obviously the case wasn’t settled, and there’s been some activity since then — notably the filing of Caltech’s answer. But nothing else seems to be happening, which is curious.

It’s been months since the Discoveroids have said anything about this case at their blog, and we’ve seen no more of their press releases. You remember their initial flurry of press releases when the case began. We wrote about it here The Coppedge Case: A Study in Tactics and Strategy. When that failed to generate any enthusiasm anywhere, the Discoveroids became enraged and complained about a Coppedge News Blackout Conspiracy!

Nearly two months later, they tried a woeful campaign of flooding religious websites with press releases aimed at them, which we described here David Coppedge vs. JPL (10 Jun 2010). That effort met with equally dismal results, and we’ve seen no more press releases of any kind.

Have the Discoveroids abandoned David Coppedge? Did they consult someone with an understanding of the real world who looked at their case and said:

Are you guys crazy? Do you really think any judge, anywhere, is going to tell Caltech and Jet Propulsion Laboratory that they have to tolerate an unrestrained, proselytizing creationist on their payroll who runs around the workplace harassing his co-workers?

It may be that the Discoveroids don’t even know anybody with an understanding of the real world who will talk to them, so we doubt that anyone has given them such advice. All we can do is search for news and observe that once again, a singular stillness prevails. It’s odd, but then, so is everything connected with the Discoveroids.

Update: See David Coppedge v. JPL & Caltech (09 Oct 2010).

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

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8 responses to “David Coppedge vs. JPL & Caltech (03 Sep 2010)

  1. Did you do a post on Caltech’s answer? I don’t remember one, but I may have missed it.

  2. carlsonjok asks: “Did you do a post on Caltech’s answer?”

    There’s a link to that in the first line of today’s post.

  3. So, what you are trying to say is my reading for comprehension needs some work?

    Yeah, I’ll cop to that.

  4. Surprisingly (to me, at least) is that NCSE doesn’t have any of the legal docs up. ‘Course, their budget is tight, and they do have a PACER subscription for federal filings and Coppedge is in the CA state courts.

  5. RBH says:

    Surprisingly (to me, at least) is that NCSE doesn’t have any of the legal docs up.

    They do have access to them. That’s where I got the Caltech answer from. But you’re right, they haven’t yet posted anything. They’ll probably get around to it.

  6. There is likely to be a long delay in the proceedings as Coppedge & lawyers digest the exact and precisely documented HR case they have been handed by the JPL. It will show, no doubt, that Coppedge engaged in a long history of “bad” behavior documented meticulously by JPL’s HR department.

    Like all big institutions who employ professional HR staff, JPL is probably cognizant of issues surrounding discipline and how to do it correctly and within the guidelines of the institution’s policies and the law.

    Coppedge’s lawyers wouldn’t have had access to his personnel files until discovery, relying on Coppedge’s interpretation of events instead. I suspect there’s been a Scoobee Doo “ruh roh!” moment as the extent of Coppedges no doubt thick file has been revealed. Of course, this is all pure speculation and we’ll see in the fullness of time. Then, again, it could all be settled out of court with appropriate gag orders in place and we’ll never know. Such fun, regardless!

  7. Doc Bill says:

    Then, again, it could all be settled out of court with appropriate gag orders in place and we’ll never know.

    That will be fine. As long as there’s no record of a Coppedge victory, that’s a good result.

  8. In Ohio, when “Coach” Daubenmire’s district/insurance company settled the suit ACLU brought against him he promptly trumpeted it as a victory, saying the ACLU had backed down when in fact his district paid ACLU over $20K and promised to not allow Coach to pray with his football team any more. Shortly thereafter Daubenmire left the school to found his Pass the Salt ministry. According to scuttlebutt filtered through a series of wives, his ministry barely scrapes along.