The trial presumably resumes today, with Coppedge still on the stand. After his performance, which will be followed by cross-examination, he has a few other witnesses listed, but we don’t think they’re JPL employees.
The big news this morning is that for the first time since we’ve been writing about this case we found an article by a reputable outfit that isn’t based solely on propaganda and handouts from the Coppedge team, so we highly recommend this at the Time Magazine website: Legal Smackdown: NASA, Religion and Intelligent Design. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:
It’s been a long time since I graduated law school and was admitted to the bar, and I’ve surely forgotten more than I remember. But here’s one bit of legal street-smarts I’ve retained: if you’re a plaintiff filing a trial brief, you may not want to write it as if it were a screenplay — and then admit that you’re making stuff up. That’s just one of the curious wrinkles in the case of David Coppedge, the plaintiff in an ongoing courtroom smackdown that also involves NASA, religious freedom, workplace decorum and the origins of life.
The reporter, Jeffrey Kluger, went to law school! He’s read the pleadings so he knows what he’s talking about. That’s quite a rarity in the coverage of this litigation. He says:
Coppedge, [JPL argues], was harassing his co-workers by pushing his intelligent design video on them and engaging in unwelcome arguments about the origins of life. He is also alleged to have made coworkers uncomfortable with his overbearing conversations about his support for Proposition 8 — California’s anti-same sex marriage amendment — and his belief that the JPL holiday party ought to be renamed a Christmas party. He was, according to his former superiors, reprimanded and told to confine such discussions to the lunch hour or other free time. Coppedge, according to those same superiors, responded by alleging a “hostile work environment.”
Yes, we know, but we don’t hear much of that from the creationist side of this dispute. Let’s read on:
A reading of the trial briefs and other filings, available on the NCSE website [Coppedge v. JPL archive], make a strong argument for JPL as the more temperate party, and Coppedge as a provocateur and — not to put too fine a point on it — a pain. JPL’s defense is manifold: Coppedge, it says, had long been a subject of complaints by coworkers, and Greg Chin, his supervisor, had received reports “from at least fifteen project members about Coppedge, focusing on his uncooperative attitude and poor listening and interpersonal skills, which contributed to issues about his technical performance.”
Poor Coppedge. He’s so misunderstood. We continue:
The [JPL trial] brief’s supporting evidence does a fair job of backing up its claims that Coppedge was prickly at best and confrontational at worst. … Most critically, JPL argues that it was at no point seeking to control the content of Coppedge’s religious or political communications with his colleagues, but rather his conduct in expressing those views. That, of course, is the critical Constitutional distinction that allows employers to maintain decorum without trampling the First Amendment.
Here’s one more excerpt, and then you’re on your own:
Far more bizarre is Coppedge’s inclusion [in his trial brief] of a three-page “screenplay” dramatizing his interactions with one of the complaining coworkers, including such dialogue as “I’m so uncomfortable with David approaching me about watching an intelligent design DVD and talking about my stance on Proposition 8.” The coworker then, in the “screenplay” version of the incident, sobs.
It is not a legal leap to suggest that none of this helps Coppedge’s case. Nor does his footnote to the scene, which concedes “Some liberties have been taken with the dialogue and action as artistic license.” Legal briefs, of course, are not typically the place for artistic anything — especially license.
Okay, that’s enough. Now click over to Time to read it all. This is the first good article about this case that we’ve seen from the media, so you won’t want to miss it.
Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.