Coppedge Trial: Klinghoffer on Day Four

We’re desperate for news of the Coppedge trial, so once again we turn to the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute‘s creationist public relations and lobbying operation, the Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids, a/k/a the cdesign proponentsists).

There we find a new post by David Klinghoffer: The Deep, Dark Secret of NASA’s Big, Bad Scary Pro-Intelligent Design Harasser David Coppedge: He’s Shy. As with Klinghoffer’s earlier posts about the trial, it’s about 2% news and 98% spin, but we can separate one from the other. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

Here in Los Angeles, ex-NASA/JPL computer specialist Coppedge testified for a second day, held up by his suffering from a severe headache as the court session was supposed to commence.

Oh, dear — the man had a headache. What a terrible ordeal the poor fellow must be going through. Klinghoffer continues.

The headaches are something he’s had a problem with going back to 2008. They’re also one small indication of a big problem that JPL’s legal defense team will have, if Judge Hiroshige is the least bit sensitive to personalities.

Yes, if the judge pays more attention to Coppedge’s endearing frailty than he does to the actual evidence in the case, then JPL is going to be in big trouble. But it usually doesn’t work out that way. Let’s read on:

Jet Propulsion Laboratory has the burden of showing that Coppedge engaged in “harassment,” that he “targeted” co-workers for pro-ID proselytization with a “secret list of people with whom he spoke” about “his religion” (variously identified as intelligent design or Evangelical Christianity,” that in pressing his views on colleagues he was “so persistent, and he was so judgmental,” as to make fellow employees “uncomfortable.”

Uh, no. JPL has no such burden. Coppedge is the plaintiff. It’s his burden to show, by a preponderance of the evidence, that his demotion and subsequent lay-off were the result of harassment and discrimination by JPL. JPL only has to counter that with evidence that its behavior was proper. It doesn’t need to show that Coppedge stalked the halls like some kind of evangelical Dracula. We continue:

But beyond his merely existing, it’s impossible to imagine how the David Coppedge we’ve seen in the courtroom and the court building is remotely the type to harass or push, to be persistent in personal interactions, to target anyone. The debilitating headaches are stress-related, he explained on the stand, and they give just one indication of what a basically delicate personality Coppedge is.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! So why doesn’t Klinghoffer offer to testify as some kind of expert in delicate personalities? That would be relevant testimony. Well, it’s as relevant as those goofy DVD’s that the judge is going to watch. Here’s more:

He’s so far faced only the questioning of his own attorney, William Becker, who sometimes shows impatience in the court with Coppedge’s manner of speaking, which mixes a certain sheepish hesitancy with a tendency to digress. When Becker chides him — Becker who’s on his side — you worry that Coppedge will shatter. He blushes very easily.

That’s interesting. To us it means one of two things. Either Becker didn’t take the time to rehearse his client’s testimony, to make sure Coppedge covered all the points that he wants covered, or … and this alternative seems more likely, Becker tried to do his job but Coppedge is incapable of taking instructions in such things. Either is possible, but the latter seems likely considering what JPL claims about his insensitive behavior on the job. Coppedge may be a delicate flower, that’s not inconsistent with being generally oblivious to the world around him. Moving along:

Every time we come back from a break and Coppedge gets back up on the stand, Becker has to ask him if he feels well enough to proceed.

Good grief! A rape victim might understandably agonize over telling what happened, but this is an employment dispute, not a rape trial. What’s going on here? Anyway, we’ll leave it at that. If you’re a fan of Klinghoffer’s prose, click over there to read it all.

So what facts do we learn from this? Only two. First, that Coppedge suffers from headaches. And second, that he’s not a very good witness even when testifying for his own lawyer. We can’t wait for the cross-examination.

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

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24 responses to “Coppedge Trial: Klinghoffer on Day Four

  1. Jet Propulsion Laboratory has the burden of showing that Coppedge engaged in “harassment,” that he “targeted” co-workers…

    The defendant must show he is innocent! The defendant is guilty until proven innocent!

    It’s the theocratic way. Perhaps a trial by Trial by Ordeal is in order.

  2. He [Coppedge] blushes very easily.

    This reminds me of a very prescient quote from Mark Twain:

    Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to.

    Twain never met Mr. Coppedge, but he sure knew his type.

  3. … or it’s all a show to try portray Coppedge as a frail thing, easily harassed, and not *possibly* of the harassing type. Maybe he’ll faint under cross-examination.

  4. Tomato Addict

    Maybe Becker can torture Coppedge until he confesses?

    Cardinal Gary, bring out the Comfy Chair.
    {*** DRAMATIC CHORD ***}

  5. It would be cool if the Caltech lawyer conducted the cross-examination in Spanish because …

    dun dun DUN

  6. Ceteris Paribus

    @Tomato Addict:
    A dramatic chord for the DI? Ah, a “Devil’s Key” tritone, the “diabolus in musica” fits with the Di’s work quite well.

    Cue Dramatic Chord

  7. Cardinal Gary, bring out the Comfy Chair.
    {*** DRAMATIC CHORD ***}
    (Cardinal Gary gets a look of absolute horror on his face)
    Cardinal Gary: The Comfy Chair?!?!?
    {*** DRAMATIC CHORD ***}
    (Cardinal Gary and Bishop TA begin laughing evilly as they bring out…the Comfy Chair)
    Bishop TA: So, you think you’re strong because you’ve survived the soft cushions questioning by your own lawyer, Mr. Becker. Weeeelllll, we shall see. Cardinal Gary, put him in… the Comfy Chair!
    (Cardinal Gary again laughs evilly as they park Coppedge in…the Comfy Chair)
    Bishop TA: Now, you shall stay in the Comfy Chair until lunchtime, with only a cup of coffee aspirin or Tylenol at 11.
    (… to be continued…)

  8. . . . no one expects the Spanish Cross-Examination!!

    (oh, wait…)

  9. Charley Horse

    Okay, I’m going to say it…after comments like Coppedge is a sweet man
    and today’s syrupy/ protective remarks from Klinghoffer…I think Klinghoffer is in love.

  10. Tomato Addict

    @Gary That spilled my coffee!
    I can foresee a day when the mere mention of Intelligent Design will cause me to burst out in spontaneous laughter merely by association with silliness.

    Oh wait, that happens already. Nevermind.

  11. aturingtest

    “…it’s impossible to imagine how the David Coppedge we’ve seen in the courtroom and the court building is remotely the type to harass or push, to be persistent in personal interactions, to target anyone.”
    Followed shortly by an admission of “a tendency to digress.” It’s been my (admittedly limited) experience that “a tendency to digress” is an absolute hallmark of the type of woo-pushing nutbar that they’re trying so hard to avoid portraying in Coppedge- certainly not, at least, a desirable trait in a science-business atmosphere.
    BTW- “evangelical Dracula”!!!!! Now I’m seeing Coppedge as a Gary Oldman-esque character skulking around with a shadow that refuses to follow him properly.

  12. Other eerie bits o’ silence: ADF’s blog doesn’t mention the latest on the case. Oh, and the YEC organizations aren’t clamoring on about this either. This is strictly a Discoveroid production.

  13. The meek and gentle Coppedge might work in front of a jury, but there is no jury here. He is more likely to annoy the judge than induce sympathy, especially if he delays the proceedings.

    Of course, there’s always the possibility that Klingie is exaggerating or outright lying. He normally makes up his own facts, so any sort of reporting gig is probably difficult for him to wrap his mind around. Becker might have sent him an email stating that Coppedge was a little uncomfortable on the stand, and Klingo took it from there.

  14. @MJA

    … or it’s all a show to try portray Coppedge as a frail thing, easily harassed, and not *possibly* of the harassing type. Maybe he’ll faint under cross-examination.

    This gets my vote. It’s all an act. If so, JPL’s attorney’s have been told that this performance is out of character for the Coppedge his co-workers dealt with. Their job is to bring that out on cross. Coppedge may have been coached break down in tears on cross, if he can do that.

    “See, he’s not at all an aggressive intimidating guy, just the opposite. Those Darwinists are bullies”. Becker will then try to show JPL’s witnesses are all evolutionists and Darwinists.

    I wish I could be a fly on the wall in the courtroom to watch this little melodrama Coppedge and Becker have contrived and to see how JPL’s attorneys deal with it.

  15. @Ed

    Of course, there’s always the possibility that Klingie is exaggerating or outright lying.

    He is almost certainly exaggerating and lying. But he is also probably presenting an exaggerated version of the narrative Becker is trying to construct for the court. The judge should see through it. The DI and Coppedge will probably lose and they probably know it, but they need to put on a good show for their supporters. Coppedge might even get a starring role in “Expelled, the Sequel”.

  16. Why did Coppedge agree to a no-jury trial ?

    I’ve read reams of the posted documents but didn’t find an explanation. One would think that the only chance he has is to confuse some jurors enough to take pity on him so the move seems pretty self-defeating ?

  17. Greybeard; here is my comment regarding Coppedge agreeing to a no-jury trial, from an earlier post on the trial:


    The plaintiff and his sycophantic supporters appears to be playing to the media in order to set up a narrative when the inevitable defeat comes in court. By creating, through the media, a fantasy narrative that Coppedge was wronged by religion-hating administrators, while the defense keeps quiet and tries the case in court, they are setting up the “activist judge” narrative. This also explains the curious decision to eschew a jury trial in favor of the case being decided by a judge. Coppedge & company realize a defeat handed down by a jury cannot be spun as conveniently, and fit into a familiar and comfortable narrative, as can a defeat handed down by a judge.

    When the judge rules in favor of JPL, Coppedge & Company will trot out the tried and true narratives used in the wake of the Kitzmiller case, where the called the judge an “judicial activist” and railed against him for “plagiarizing the plaintiffs’ filings” in his decision. This will be followed by the inevitable fundraising letters from the UnDyscovery Institute — “if only we had more money to hire more lawyers, PR flacks, etc., we could counteract these evil judicial activist judges … send you donation TODAY!”

    In conclusion, everything the plaintiffs and their pals in arms are doing is consistent with knowing they will lose the case. It’s a PR war, not a legal battle.

    The key moment was when Coppedge was unable to get the judge to agree to his preliminary motions to bring in all manner irrelevant hogwash, and at the same time prevent JPL from presenting evidence that would reveal that Coppedge was a troublesome employee who annoyed his coworkers with his uninvited, and unwanted Creationist proselytizing.

    Once it was clear that Coppedge would be prevented from presenting an “obfuscation case,” including playing the Creationist DVDs for a jury, it became obvious that they would likely lose, and in that event, a jury verdict would be more damaging to the cause than a judge’s ruling, which could more easily be spun by the PR team at DI.

  18. He’s so far faced only the questioning of his own attorney, William Becker, who sometimes shows impatience in the court with Coppedge’s manner of speaking, which mixes a certain sheepish hesitancy with a tendency to digress.

    That’s similar to John Freshwater’s demeanor when he testified until he was under cross examination when he descended into obfuscation and evasiveness.

  19. Thanks Longshadow. I’d actually seen your theory earlier and agree that it makes sense. I had just assumed that the accusers would have given a rationale for their choice, somewhere along the line.

  20. @TA: I’m here to serve, m’lud!

  21. In Kelly Smith’s paper, “Foiling the Black Knight”, she discusses the idea that dealing with creationists if very similar to the scene in Monty Python’s “The Holy Grail” in which the Black Knight confronts King Arthur.
    I’m going to make the argument here that dealing with Coppedge is more akin to “The Dead Parrot” sketch. Hear me out. Coppedge is bound and determined to evangelize. He’s the shopowner in TDP (the dead parrot) sketch. JPL is, of course, the person just trying to get a parrot. The storyline of TDP is a man buys a “parrot” only to find out that the reason for it’s “total lack of movement” is that it is dead. The shopowner tries to convince the customer that the bird is “simply tired and shagged out after a long squawk”. Then he tries to talk about the bird’s “beautiful plumage”. From that point on, the shopowner constantly comes back to the “beautiful plumage”. This is Coppedge’s “its all about my belief in intelligent design” argument. As the customer (John Cleese) tries to get the shopowner (Michael Palin) to simply understand that this bird is “deceased, no more, has gone off to join The Choir Invisible”, this is analogous to JPL’s statement, “We lost funding. We laid him off. The end.” All Palin can reply is “beautiful plumage” (Coppedge’s “it’s all about my belief in intelligent design”).
    No, I’ve haven’t fully thought this through. I just wanted to see if I could get TA to spill his coffee again.

  22. Tomato Addict

    @Gary, I like where you are going with this, but this time on a Friday is too late for me to be drinking coffee. Maybe I’ll get myself another beer and read it again. 🙂

    @@Gary: I’m going to see if I can get Smith full paper too – Thanks for that.

  23. Dave de Vries

    Hi mate, not sure if this helps but this site seems to be providing solid updates.

  24. I used to work as an engineering intern with the Department of the Army, doing basically glorified data entry. Day one, I meet the admin coordinator for our office who was the biggest drama queen when it came to getting headaches or as she would tell us “severe migraines” which would require her to not do anything but complain for about two hours, accomplishing zero work other than sitting at her desk, surfing the internet, until our supervisor would just tell her to go home. Oddly enough, it was always on Monday or holidays after what I assumed was a day off consuming a LOT of alcohol.

    Now I am not trying to sound like I have no patience or compassion for migraine sufferers. I am actually rated as disabled 40% by the VA due to a severe head injury I received while in the Navy. I am thankfully lucky as when people first meet me, they can’t tell I have any problems. But every once in a while, I get a bad…I mean, people think I am f-ing going to die, style migraine. I will loose all my vision and sense of balance, and end up blowing capillaries in my eyes resulting in it looking like I tried to rip them out with like a spoon or something. I can’t even swallow the spit in my mouth as I get so nauseous, I projectile vomit until I am tearing up my throat. I’ve had to get tears fixed in the lining of my esophagus. I used to own a gun but got rid of it because when I get these attacks, I am borderline suicidal from the pain. I ain’t no pansy to pain. I was born with spina bifida and as a kid, used to put in and take out my own catheters and I have had numerous spinal taps (yeah low admission standards for the USN!!!). But these things leave me a crying whelp. If you told me that there was an operation that would stop these migraines, but there was a moderate chance I would be wearing a diaper the rest of my life and lose half of my mental capacity…I don’t know if I can honestly say I would not attempt the surgery.

    If this dude is actually dealing with severe headaches like this, he gets a lot of compassion from me, just as a fellow sufferer of these damnable things. If he is a lot like most people I meet, who act like every sinus or tension headache is the end of the world, he can eat a freaking d**k. Sorry for the length of this rant…