David Coppedge v. JPL & Caltech (27 Oct ’11)

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 used to work (until he was let go in a downsizing back in January) as a computer technician for Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). He also maintains a creationist website: Creation-Evolution Headlines [which was recently moved here].

It’s been almost eight weeks since our last update: David Coppedge v. JPL & Caltech (03 Sep ’11). The next few indented paragraphs provide background information, which most of you can skip:

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 (until he picked up a few creationist clients) appears 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.

There’s a great supplement to the information available from the courthouse. The National Center for Science Education (NCSE) maintains an archive of pleadings in this case, which you can find here: NCSE’s Coppedge archive.

In recent reports we informed you that both sides had filed motions for Summary Judgment, each accompanied by an extensive Statement of Facts and a supporting Legal Memorandum. Essentially, such motions claim that there are no material facts in dispute so there’s no need for a trial, and the court should rule for the moving party as a matter of law. One of those motions for Summary Judgment had been set for 26 October — that’s yesterday. The trial had been set to start on 19 October 2011, but that’s now changed to 14 December. Bear in mind that this will be a jury trial, which is inherently unpredictable.

Okay, you’re up to date as of our last posting. Now what’s happened in recent weeks? First we checked to see what’s been logged into the courthouse docket. There’s been a “TENTATIVE RULING” on the 26 October motion for Summary Judgement, but we don’t know what the order says. On that same date Coppedge’s lawyers filed a “declaration” (whatever that is) and an application for an immediate order. JPL’s lawyers also filed a “declaration” and an opposition to the Coppedge application. Until we see the pleadings, we won’t know what’s going on, but something obviously happened yesterday.

Turning now to the NCSE archive, they have three new pleadings at their website, and they’re all pdf files. First is dated 11 October. It’s Coppedge’s Supplemental Opposition to JPLs Motion for Summary Judgment, which is ten pages long. It claims that they have evidence of discriminatory motives for JPL’s firing of Coppedge.

The second item was filed a week later. It’s JPL’s Response to the above, and it’s 18 pages long. Basically, JPL disagrees with Coppedge’s latest allegations (those that are supported by the evidence, which not all are), but claim they’re irrelevant, so such things shouldn’t interfere with granting JPL’s motion for Summary Judgment.

The last new item is dated the same as the 2nd item. It’s JPL’s Supplemental Reply in Support of its Motion for Summary Judgment. It’s a bit of a summary, asserting that there’s no evidence of discriminatory intent in firing Coppedge.

That’s all we know, dear reader. Something happened yesterday, on 26 October. It looks like somebody’s motion for Summary Judgment is getting granted. But we won’t know any more until we see some news stories or the NCSE archive is updated. When we learn something we’ll probably update this post. Stay tuned.

Copyright © 2011. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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One response to “David Coppedge v. JPL & Caltech (27 Oct ’11)

  1. We’ve still seen no news stories about this case. No bloggers are writing about it either. But there’s some indication at the court clerk’s website that something is going on. First, the trial is still set to begin on 14 December, which causes us to believe that neither side has yet achieved a final order of Summary Judgment.

    Second, there’s a very peculiar item that was filed on 31 October: Notice (of disassociaiton of counsel), Filed by Attorney for Plaintiff/Petitioner.

    It appears that one of the firms representing Coppedge is bailing out. Becker is still listed as plaintiff’s attorney, so he seems to be still on board. Someone named CHARLES S. LIMANDRI, ESQ. is listed as Former Independent Counsel.

    We still don’t know what’s been going on since the Summary Judgment hearing on 26 October, but it’ll all get cleared up fairly soon.