When we last posted about this case, the trial was scheduled to start Wednesday, two days ago. A quick check at the courthouse file reveals that the trial has been continued. We don’t yet know why or for how long.
This lawsuit was filed by 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. As you recall, 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.
The judge has not yet ruled on the numerous motions in limine that were pending. We summarized all of those here: Pre-Trial Perspective, and that post also has a load of background information for those of you who haven’t been following this case.
We’ll summarize the latest pleadings available, thanks to our friends at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), who maintain an archive of pleadings in this case: NCSE’s Coppedge archive. These are all scans of pdf files.
The first is yet another motion in limine. This one was filed by JPL-Caltech. It’s Defendant’s motion to exclude testimony, evidence, argument, and comment about the contents of NASA’s guidelines on religious exercise and expression in the federal workplace. They want such evidence kept out of the trial because it’s irrelevant and will be prejudicial to Caltech and misleading to the jury. That makes perfect sense to us. NASA is a federal agency, and neither Caltech nor JPL has that status.
The motion says that the parties had previously agreed to leave that stuff out, but the Coppedge team has recently changed its mind, thus this motion. The bold font was added by us:
Caltech does not seek to exclude relevant evidence concerning transmission or discussion of the Federal Guidelines that occurred in this case, such as testimony that Coppedge gave copies of the Federal Guidelines to Caltech employees in meetings, before he learned that they do not apply to employees of private employers, like Caltech.
At various points in this litigation, Coppedge has contended that the Federal Guidelines apply to Caltech. But Coppedge is mistaken. On its face, the Federal Guidelines apply only to federal employees of the United States Government. … Coppedge admits that he was employed by Caltech [transcript reference]. Furthermore, Coppedge admits that Caltech is a private, non-profit educational institution which manages the Jet Propulsion Laboratory pursuant to a contract with NASA [transcript reference]. Therefore, the Federal Guidelines and its contents do not apply to Caltech and are irrelevant.
For some reason, the word “clueless” keeps running through our mind, but we can’t figure out why. Anyway, the next new pleading by JPL-Caltech is their Defendant’s Trial Brief. A partial listing from the table of contents will be sufficient to reveal that there’s a bit more to this case than one might learn only by reading the press releases issued by the Coppedge team. Here’s a sample:
Coppedge’s Work History and Performance Issues
A Member of Cassini Complained That Coppedge Had Harassed Her [about non work-related subjects]
When Chin [a supervisor] Tried To Approach Coppedge (Again), Coppedge Accused Him of Creating a Hostile Work Environment
Chin Notified HR [Human Resources] and Management about Coppedge’s Accusation; Human Resources Investigated and Recommended that Coppedge Receive a Written Warning
Coppedge Received a Written Warning and Was Removed as Lead
Coppedge Appealed the Written Warning and His Removal as Lead; Klenk Reviewed All the Facts and Denied the Appeal
Coppedge Filed this Lawsuit
Coppedge Was Laid Off as Part of the Staff Reduction for the Second Extended Mission [NASA had reduced their funding by 40%-50%]
This is slightly different from the way the Coppedge team sees this case (i.e., it’s all about an evil conspiracy by Big Science to suppress intelligent design).
The last pleading at the NCSE archive is a Second Amended Joint Trial Exhibit List. Each party’s proposed exhibits also indicate those items that are subject to objections. We won’t bother with it because it’s 47-pages long, and at this stage the list means nothing. It’ll be amended yet again when all the pending motions in limine (regarding what’s allowed in the trial and what’s excluded) are resolved.
So there you are. The big news is that the trial has been delayed again. We don’t yet have a new trial date. It’s conceivable that even now the parties might settle this mess, but having gone this far, we don’t think it’s likely that either side is in the mood for compromise.
The Discoveroids have recently posted a few times about the trial, and we’ll look at what they have to say. If we find anything especially amusing therein, we’ll let you know.
Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.