We’re continuing where we left off yesterday, in Coppedge v. JPL & Caltech: Colliding Worldviews, with a discussion of more pre-trial pleadings in the case of David Coppedge, the creationist 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 as a computer technician for Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). He also maintains a creationist website: Creation-Evolution Headlines [which was recently moved here].
You remember that just before the trial was continued to 07 March, JPL-Caltech had filed several “motions in limine” requesting the judge to rule that certain testimony, evidence, and arguments be excluded from the trial, about which we had earlier posted here: David Coppedge v. JPL & Caltech: Pre-Trial Motions, and here: More Pre-Trial Motions. Yesterday we discussed some of Coppedge’s responses (along with JPL’s response to a strange motion by Coppedge), and now we’ll continue.
These are all pdf files that can be found at the website of our friends at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE). They maintain an archive of pleadings in the case: NCSE’s Coppedge archive. And we’ll remind you again that NCSE has to pay the court to obtain this material, so think kindly of them when you’re considering worthy causes to which you might contribute. Hint: you can donate right here. Think kindly of your Curmudgeon too, because the archived pleadings are scans, and we can’t just cut and paste our excerpts; we have to type this stuff.
Okay, the next response that Coppedge filed is his Opposition to Caltech’s Motion to Exclude Testimony and Argument about Counsel’s Privileged Consultation with Caltech. Recall that JPL-Caltech had moved to keep such material out of the trial because Coppedge intends to claim that such meetings were just a facade for firing him, and to rebut that, Caltech would have to divulge privileged matters. The issues are very technical, involving attorney-client privilege and such. Coppedge’s response says:
Coppedge is not seeking to open up privileged communications (i.e. information transmitted). JPL correctly observes “the dates and fact of meetings with counsel … are not privileged” and thus concedes the relevance and admissibility of the fact that two employees — Dianne Conner and Richard Van Why — met with counsel concerning this lawsuit at the same time they were assigned to determine layoffs. Conner’s and Van Why’s knowledge of Coppedge’s lawsuit is circumstantial evidence showing a retaliatory motive … .
We’re not impressed. It’s likely that anyone JPL sent to discuss this case with Coppedge’s lawyers would have known that Coppedge was suing JPL over his demotion and that layoffs were coming. Coppedge needs to do a bit more to show that he was discharged in retaliation for having sued JPL.
Next is Coppedge’s Opposition to Caltech’s Motion to Exclude or Limit Testimony of David DeWolf. Recall that JPL-Caltech wanted to keep out any argument (through DeWolf or otherwise) that the proponents of intelligent design historically have been subjected to hostility or discrimination, or that Caltech’s treatment of Coppedge is an illustration of the hostility toward advocates of intelligent design. In response, Coppedge says:
Will the jury in this case understand how David Coppedge’s discussions of origins would be viewed as religious by JPL without the aid of an expert who can explain the controversy?
What is intelligent design, and why would Coppedge be accused by his co-workers of harassing them and pushing his religious views on them by bringing up the topic and casually loaning them DVDs explaining it?
The truth is that excessive disdain for intelligent design is an esoteric phenomenon occurring largely within academia and scientific institutions. … Scientists are denied peer review, research funding and credentials for taking intelligent design seriously. But these actions are taken outside of the public eye. Is one to believe that this phenomenon is commonly experienced by jurors?
Again, we’re not impressed. The “hostility” shown by academia toward creationism and intelligent design is no different than the attitude toward flat-earthers or moon landing deniers. In our humble opinion, testimony by an “expert” about such hostility is absurd. What we have here is one side of the case living in a fantasy world where creationists (or ID advocates) are heroic champions of the truth, and they’re battling the cruel, closed-minded establishment. We see no reason to present their fantasy to the jury.
Next is Coppedge’s Opposition to Caltech’s Motion to Exclude Testimony and Argument about his own job performance. JPL-Caltech had moved to keep that out of the trial because “Coppedge’s own subjective, self-serving conclusions are merely that, and they are irrelevant to what motivated the decision-makers in this case.” In response, Coppedge argues:
JPL will try to establish that Coppedge was fired due to “poor job performance.” It contends — unassisted by any supporting legal authority — that the sole relevant inquiry in this action is the intent and motivation of individuals who participated in discipline and layoff decisions. This argument is erroneous for at least two relevant reasons: (1) JPL’s decision-makers’ state of mind is not the “sole relevant inquiry in this action”; and (2) Coppedge’s ability to describe his performance abilities are [sic] relevant to rebut the subjective/self-serving contentions of the decision-makers.
Interesting. Does Coppedge get to tell the jury what a great guy he is, or is it sufficient if JPL’s people explain to the jury that “we let him go because he kept annoying everyone”?
That’s enough for this post. There’s still more new stuff at the NCSE archive. For now, we all deserve a break from the Coppedge case. Besides, the trial won’t be until March, so there’s plenty of time to return to this mess.
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