David Coppedge v. JPL & Caltech (18 Nov 2010)

Our last update on this litigation was David Coppedge v. JPL & Caltech (09 Oct 2010). At that time the only news was that the court had scheduled a Case Management Conference for 17 November.

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 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, but which seems to have languished for months.

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.

Now that we’re all together, here’s what’s been going on since our last update. First, there have been no posts about this case at the Discoveroids’ blog since 10 June, causing us to suspect that the Discoveroids have lost their enthusiasm for this matter.

Second, we checked with the court’s website and found that the scheduled Case Management Conference was held, and the docket indicates that it’s “Completed.” We assume that the judge has been updated about what the parties have been doing and whether there’s any possibility of settlement.

The only other information we can glean from the clerk’s website is that there are three new matters listed under “Future Hearings,” and they’re all months in the future. On 22 April 2011 there will be a Mandatory Settlement Conference. After that there will be a Final Status Conference on 03 June 2011. Finally, the Jury Trial is scheduled to start on 15 June 2011.

It’s possible that this case could get settled, or maybe news could arise from an unexpected source. Otherwise, dear reader, unless the Discoveroids start ranting again at their blog about the injustice of JPL’s demoting Mr. Coppedge, or they pay for a new campaign of press releases in another attempt to whip up popular support for the imaginary right to promote creationism on the job (that could happen as the trial date approaches), we’re unlikely to be posting any more updates on this case for several months.

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

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2 responses to “David Coppedge v. JPL & Caltech (18 Nov 2010)

  1. It’s unlikely that either side will be talking. Certainly, JPL won’t say anything not the least of which is because it’s an HR matter; by its nature confidential.

    Coppedge probably doesn’t have a leg to rest his case on and won’t talk because whatever he says could be used against him, or, at least, not help his case.

    The chance of the DI raising a fuss is remote, but mainly only to keep the Coppedge pot simmering. Next summer is a loooooonnnnnnngggggg way off for something as minor as an HR complaint. Mind you, the suit isn’t even about wrongful termination. It’s simply that Coppedge thinks JPL was mean to him.

  2. In CA, 99% of the time, there will be a court-ordered mediation following case management. They’re probably in the middle of that.