This is a suit by a creationist, David Coppedge, who claims he was wrongfully demoted (and later fired) by his employer because he was promoting Intelligent Design (ID) on the job. He works (or did until recently) as a computer technician for Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). He also maintains a creationist website: Creation-Evolution Headlines.
Although 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 aren’t officially involved. Nevertheless, 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..
Our last post on this case was David Coppedge v. JPL & Caltech (28 May ’11). All the background information is there, and we won’t repeat much of it this time around. The biggest new development was that the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) has begun to maintain an archive of pleadings in this case, which you can find here: NCSE’s Coppedge archive.
The trial had been set to start on 19 October 2011, only three and a half months from now. Coppedge had filed his 2nd Amended Complaint (83 page pdf file, with exhibits) and the defendants had filed their Answer to 2nd Amended Complaint (10-page pdf file).
Okay, you’re up-to-date. What’s been happening since our last report? Not much, really, but if you’re following this case you may find the recent activity interesting. From the NCSE archive we see that Coppedge had filed a motion for a continuance (that motion isn’t in the archive), and the defendants filed their Opposition to the Continuance (10-page pdf file). It’s fun to read because it’s a rather scathing criticism of Coppedge’s lawyer.
The defendants point out that the trial had already been postponed from June, because after Coppedge had been laid off he filed his amended complaint to allege wrongful dismissal. They also say that a hearing on the individual defendants’ motion for Summary Judgment is scheduled for 07 September, and Caltech’s motion for Summary Judgment is set for hearing on 16 September. Coppedge wants those postponed too — but the defendants say that there are no good reasons given for such a delay.
Next, NCSE’s archive shows that the court denied the requested continuance of the trial date. That was a blunt, one-page order with no discussion. We’re not told about the Summary Judgment hearing dates. We assume (but don’t know) that those are unchanged. Coppedge hasn’t filed his own motion for Summary Judgment, which makes it look as if he has such a weak case that it’s not worth the effort.
The last of the new items seems to be rather routine. It’s the court’s scheduling of a Settlement Conference for 14 July. We don’t expect anything to result from that.
But who knows what might happen at the settlement conference? If Coppedge’s case is as weak as we think it is, and if he can’t postpone the trial which is coming up rather soon — maybe he and his lawyers will bow to the inevitable and work out some kind of lame resolution to this mess. What could that be?
Caltech seems confident and unwilling to concede anything. Maybe they’ll let Coppedge drop the case without having to pay the defendants’ costs and fees (if fees are an issue here). That might be the best Coppedge could hope for. We don’t really know, of course. Anyway, we won’t have much longer to wait.
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