This continues today’s earlier post about pre-trial motions filed 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), which is part of Caltech. He also maintains a creationist website: Creation-Evolution Headlines — which was recently moved here.
This morning’s post was Coppedge v. JPL & Caltech: Even More Pleadings. All the background information is there.
We’re going to discuss more of JPL-Caltech’s responses to some recent Coppedge pleadings. These are posted 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 they’re all pdf files. Here we go.
The next in this series is JPL’s Defense of its 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 it’s privileged communications, and Coppedge intends to claim that such meetings were just a facade for firing him. To rebut that, Caltech would have to divulge privileged matters. Coppedge responded that he doesn’t want to reveal privileged communications. Rather, because the dates and fact of such meetings are not privileged, he wants to use that information to show that such discussions were conducted by JPL employees who were assigned to determine layoffs, and to claim that their knowledge of Coppedge’s lawsuit is circumstantial evidence showing a retaliatory motive for firing him.
Defending its motion, JPL-Caltech says:
… Coppedge wants the jury to speculate that the mere fact that counsel had privileged meetings with certain Caltech managers after the lawsuit was filed infers that the purpose of the meetings was to plot retaliatory conduct. Permitting such testimony would present Caltech with a Hobson’s choice: (a) allow the jury to engage in unbridled speculation about what was said, or (b) waive its attorney-client privilege just so it can defend itself against Coppedge’s unfounded insinuations. The court should not permit this rank and highly prejudicial speculation — or this total disregard for the attorney-client privilege.
Next is JPL’s Defense of its 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 argued that the jury couldn’t understand how his discussions of origins would be viewed as religious by JPL without the aid of an expert who can explain the controversy. He claimed that academic prejudice against intelligent design was outside the jury’s experience, so it was necessary for an “expert” to explain it to them.
In defense of its motion, JPL-Caltech says:
Coppedge will deploy DeWolf to lecture the jury about intelligent design and its theories, confuse them with irrelevant anecdotes about intelligent design proponents who have no connection or similarity to Coppedge, and tell them that they should view Caltech’s witnesses as being hostile to Coppedge simply because that is how intelligent design proponents claim to have been treated elsewhere and how they believe they are perceived generally. None of this is relevant to this lawsuit, and all of it is unduly prejudicial to Caltech.
[T]he only relevant evidence on intelligent design is what the witnesses knew about it, and how they perceived it. … The jury does not need DeWolf to tell them, nor indeed can DeWolf tell them, what [JPL employees] know or think about intelligent design. …
In reality, Coppedge’s effort to put DeWolf in front of the jury is no different from his desire to show the intelligent design DVDs at the trial. It is all part of a larger campaign by Coppedge (and more importantly, the Discovery Institute and the Alliance Defense Fund “ADF” which are helping to finance this lawsuit) to use this case as a platform for promoting intelligent design. DeWolf himself has a personal interest in this outcome. He is a paid senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, whom he considers to be a client, and he is an affiliate of the ADF, for whom he tought seminars for roughly seven years. … The Court should resist this misuse of trial time by a patently self-interested “expert” witness. [Bold font added by us.]
There’s more to come. We’ll save them for another post.
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