Coppedge v. JPL & Caltech: New Pleadings #2

This is a continuation of yesterday’s post, Coppedge v. JPL & Caltech: New Round of Pleadings. That, and this earlier post, should provide you with enough background to appreciate what’s going on here. All of these pleadings have been obtained (at significant cost) from the court clerk’s office by our friends at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), and then posted at their archive of pleadings in the case: NCSE’s Coppedge archive. They’re all scans of pdf files.

All of the recent activity concerns a bunch of motions in limine, to determine what evidence the judge will allow in or exclude from the trial. Okay, let’s continue where we left off yesterday. All the bold font in the pleadings was added by us for emphasis.

The next item is Coppedge’s Motion in Limine #5, to Exclude Testimony from JPL’s Expert Witness Regarding Coppedge’s Mitigation Efforts. We didn’t know about this issue. JPL-Caltech has an expert witness, an economist/statistician, who will testify about Coppedge’s efforts to find a comparable job after he was let go in a JPL downsizing. Coppedge’s claim here is that the witness isn’t qualified, his testimony will be speculative, and it will confuse the jury.

We don’t know about this one. Coppedge is a computer technician, so as to the question of his damages resulting from the alleged wrongful discharge, it seems reasonable to have someone testify about how many jobs are available to him if he gets laid off. Anyway, this looks like a straightforward legal issue that has probably come up before in cases claiming wrongful discharge. It doesn’t involve creationism so we won’t worry about it.

The next pleadings are Coppedge’s responses to motions filed by JPL-Caltech. The first of these is Coppedge’s Reply to JPL’s Motion in Limine #1 re DVDs. We previously posted about JPL’s motion (see David Coppedge v. JPL & Caltech: Pre-Trial Motions). You will recall that JPL-Caltech had said:

Caltech expects that Coppedge will try to show DVDs that he passed out to his co-workers, such as the intelligent design films entitled “The Privileged Planet,” “Unlocking the Mystery of Life,” and “Icons of Evolution;” and/or other religious films entitled “The Case for a Creator,” “The Case for Christ” … Caltech also anticipates that Coppedge may attempt to show films regarding proponents of intelligent design who allegedly experienced hostility, such as “Expelled” … .

Recall also — as we posted here, More Pre-Trial Motions — that Coppedge had filed a motion in limine to permit the showing of DVDs to the jury, specifically “Unlocking the Mystery of Life” and “The Privileged Planet.” He claimed:

This motion is made on the grounds that the DVDs are relevant as to Defendants’ witnesses [that is, witnesses for JPL and Caltech] state of mind and credibility. … Plaintiff contends that the [sic] these documentaries discuss science, not religion. The evidence in this case will show that Defendants’ employees perceived intelligent design to be religious in nature, and, based upon that erroneous perception, accused Plaintiff of harassing them.

So Coppedge wants to prove to the jury that he didn’t harass anyone. Rather, he’s a great creation scientist, and he was rebuffed by the narrow-minded fools at JPL. That’s the background on this one. Now his lawyer is responding to JPL’s arguments to exclude the DVDs.

This pleading is just a bunch of exhibits that allegedly support Coppedge’s position on this issue. You may find some of them of interest, especially the written warning Coppedge received before he was demoted. That’s on page 7. It’s a good reminder of how this whole mess began. However, we don’t see how this collection of exhibits makes a case for showing DVDs to the jury.

The next item is more of the same. It’s Coppedge’s Supplemental Declaration in Support of his Motion in Limine #1 re DVDs. He really wants to show those DVDs to the jury! This one says that without showing the DVDs, Coppedge can’t explain through mere testimony the harmless nature of the DVDs. Unless the jury can actually see the DVDs, they won’t be able to understand that he wasn’t really harassing his co-workers “simply by lending them a DVD on intelligent design.”

The rest of the recent batch of Coppedge pleadings are more “Supplemental Declarations” in support of the matters we’ve previously discussed. We’ll review them, and if we find anything interesting (or amusing) we’ll present them in a later post. But if they’re mostly repetitive of points already made, we’ll ignore them.

A wise lawyer once said that it’s much easier litigating against a smart, knowledgeable, experienced opponent than any other. We think we understand what he meant.

As you probably know, the trial is set to start on 07 March. In all likelihood, the only interesting news until then will be the judge’s rulings on all these recent motions. We’ll be watching.

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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6 responses to “Coppedge v. JPL & Caltech: New Pleadings #2

  1. The evidence in this case will show that Defendants’ employees perceived intelligent design to be religious in nature, and, based upon that erroneous perception, accused Plaintiff of harassing them.

    Even if Coppedge is right, he’s wrong. It is entirely possible to ‘harass’ a group of scientists by constantly bringing up science that they have already considered and deemed irrelevant to their job. ‘It was science, ergo, not harassment’ doesn’t work. It could be science AND harassing.

  2. The link “Coppedge’s Reply to JPL’s Motion in Limine #1 re DVDs” gives us a chance to revisit the wonderful deposition of Scott Edgington (exhibit #6, page #19 of the transcript) where he completely takes down Becker on whether or not ID is science. It’s beautiful. I’m really surprised they actually include this in their filings.

  3. Ed, when I view that document, exhibit 6 starts on on page 34.

  4. SC, it may display differently in difference browsers. In Safari, it displays within the browser as a continuous file, no page numbers. If I save it, it saves as a pdf file, and in that 34 page file, exhibit 6 starts on page 27 with the comments in question on page 31. It might look different in explorer, firefox, google, or whatever.

    The page #19 I was referring to in my comment is the page number in the upper right corner of the scanned transcript page within exhibit 6.

  5. It doesn’t matter what the harassing was about. You could bug your coworkers about baseball or Glee or Volvo drivers. Doesn’t matter.

    And there’s nothing more appropriate than a Groundhog Day reference.

    Ned: Phil? Hey, Phil? Phil! Phil Connors? Phil Connors, I thought that was you!
    Phil: Hi, how you doing? Thanks for watching.
    [Starts to walk away]
    Ned: Hey, hey! Now, don’t you tell me you don’t remember me because I sure as heckfire remember you.
    Phil: Not a chance.
    Ned: Ned… Ryerson. “Needlenose Ned”? “Ned the Head”? C’mon, buddy. Case Western High. Ned Ryerson: I did the whistling belly-button trick at the high school talent show? Bing! Ned Ryerson: got the shingles real bad senior year, almost didn’t graduate? Bing, again. Ned Ryerson: I dated your sister Mary Pat a couple times until you told me not to anymore? Well?
    Phil: Ned Ryerson?
    Ned: Bing!
    Phil: Bing.

    The best of Ned Ryerson.

  6. Although I have ideas about the True Cause of crop circles, too, I find it odd that Coppedge waited a year to file his original complaint. He seemed like a quiet little creationist tending to his “ministry,” updating his childish little multi-colored, anti-science website and basking in delusions grandeur as being a team member of the Cassini Project to explore Saturn.

    So, now old Coppers has the DI’s California hired gun lawyer, Becker, and a grant to cover legal fees from a right-wing activist organization and a clear mission to raise as big a stink as possible. First of all, Coppers is not the mastermind behind this. If he had a masters mind he wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place. Second, there’s no way that Coppers planned anything. If Coppers had a planning brain he would have planned his career better rather than spending a decade as a tape monkey.

    In a train wreck sort of way I am curious to know what the DI offered Coppedge to pursue this lunacy. I can’t imagine that even Coppedge is a big enough dolt to go through this without some reward at the end. I just hope it’s not a bottle of single malt from Dembski’s cellar. We all know how that ended!