David Coppedge Trial: 19 Mar ’12

The first day of the trial’s second week is winding down, and we’re getting some news reports. The website Patch, in JPL Lawsuit: ‘Trampling on My Civil Rights’, reports:

Judge Ernest Hiroshige continued the trial to Tuesday, due to an apparent migraine headache that caused David Coppedge to lay down for more than half an hour. Plaintiff attorney William Becker said when the headache pain grows severe, it causes Coppedge to mispeak, as well as meander.

If Coppedge is not well enough to continue in the morning, Becker said he will call his next witness. Coppedge has yet to be cross examined by defense attorney Jim Zapp.

They also report this earlier testimony, before the headache ended the day:

Coppedge, though periodically meandering during testimony, allegedly due to a migraine headache, described political cartoons on a Cassini project scientist’s door that poked fun at intelligent design. Another colleague posted a cartoon that mocked traditional marriage, he said.

One cartoon depicted Darwin fish, which he described as “corruptions of a well- known Christian symbol’’ that could offended some Christians. Coppedge took photographs of the cartoons after what he described as an intense meeting with [his supervisor, Greg] Chin in March 2009. During the meeting, Coppedge said, Chin told him not to talk about religion or politcs in the workplace.

Cartoons! A Darwin fish! How much harassment can one man endure? Oh, wait, the article also says, apparently getting this from Coppedge’s testimony: “Ultimately human resources ordered the political cartoons removed.”

Hey, that sounds fair. There’s also this:

Regarding his freedoms of speech and religion, Coppedge said he believed he was on solid legal ground because of JPL’s affiliation with NASA, a federal agency. “I do know that every machine I’ve worked on says ‘Property of U.S. Government on it,”‘Coppedge said.

Ah yes, thus invoking the ancient maxim: “He who owns the machines calls the tune.” Powerful testimony indeed!

JPL must be reeling. Their lawyers are probably hiding under their counsel’s table. We hope Coppedge recovers sufficiently to continue his exciting tale tomorrow. Verily, this is the trial of the century.

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

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17 responses to “David Coppedge Trial: 19 Mar ’12

  1. I have had only one experience being called as a witness in a workman’s compensation case. (It was settled after a day of lawyers/judge negotiation and I was never called.) I learned two things. Workman comp lawyers make a ton of money and they keep a bunch of neck braces and crutches in the trunk of their car. I never saw so many neck braces in one day!

    Oh, the stress! Oh, my headache! Oh, I do believe I’ve got the vapors.

    Oh, my, these cross-exam questions are so stressful, I do think I must lie down for an hour or 3 weeks. I make no sense because my headache, you see. Make me no thinks good. ID is religion! No, it isn’t! Yes, it is! Oh, I don’t know what I am saying!

    Let’s review. Three years worth of court filings with the original lawsuit and the amended lawsuit. No mention whatsoever of medical problems. None.

    Now this. What’s next for Coppedge, a neck brace?

  2. @Doc Bill

    What’s next for Coppedge, a neck brace?

    What’s next? PTSD.

  3. PTSD or PMS? Oh wait, that is not very nice.

  4. retiredsciguy

    PTSD, PMS, Low-T, ED, ID, LS/MFT — Go, Coppedge! Go, Coppedge! You’ve got it all! When the going gets tough, the Coppedge lies down.

  5. I’m surprised that Coppedge didn’t demand a “fainting couch” be provided by JPL under the auspices of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for every occasion when his delicate sensibilities were shattered by his co-workers rebuffing his Creationist DVD distribution activities.

    One gets the distinct feeling that he and his counsel are setting up a serendipitous cluster of migraines that will coincide precisely with those moments when the defendant’s attorneys seek to cross examine him.

    Under such a scenario, Coppedge might manage to limit his cross examination testimony to about 5 minutes a day. That’s one way to stretch this joke of a trial to 5 weeks.

  6. Somehow, I think the theatrics are not helping Coppedge. If he were truly a harassed employee, he would be mad and eager to testify.

    Of course, it is probably all part of the script for the show trial. He is auditioning for his turn on Expelled!, the Sequel.

  7. From the article: “Coppedge has yet to be cross examined by defense attorney Jim Zapp.”

    OK, fess up, who made up that name?

  8. What a farce. How did this ever get to trial? Coppedge sounds exactly like the sort of person who would piss me off every time he opens his mouth. O woe! I’m such a victim! Why does everything always happen to me?

    The ego. I can’t imagine how anyone could stand to work with this guy. Even if he weren’t a creationist loon, he’d still be intolerable.

  9. More reporting on Coppedge’s condition…


    Coppedge complained of headaches for much of the day, and had previously testified to suffering from migraines. He stepped down from the witness stand at 3 p.m. and didn’t return Monday.

    “I don’t think he is going to be able to testify,” said William J. Becker, Jr., Coppedge’s attorney. “He has got to sleep it off.”

    Coppedge was reclining in a roof top lounge late Monday with his suit jacket shrouding his face. He is expected to take the stand Tuesday morning and could conclude direct testimony by noon (Tuesday), Becker said.

    He has to sleep off questioning from his own attorney? After questioning by his own attorney he has to recline in a roof top lounge with suit jacket shrouding face? Was he rocking back and forth, mumbling incoherently and making indecipherable noises? Is Coppedge a drama queen?

    What's he going to do after cross? Try to jump off the roof? Will they have to talk him down from the edge?

    If all of this isn't an act Becker and the DI ought to call the whole thing off now. But I think it is almost all an act.

  10. Arghhh. The part starting “He has to sleep it off…” should not be in blockquotes.

  11. Missing angle bracket, Jack. If you were a programmer working for me I’d haul you into my office yell at you, write a letter for your file, document your gross negligence for your annual review then hold you up to personal ridicule at the next staff meeting. I’d even make you wear a Scarlet Greater Than around your neck for a month. Yeah, just try to sue me for wrongful termination. Ha, you wrongfully terminated the blockquote! Who’s laughing now, eh, cowboy?

    Whew! I think I need to sleep that off!

    Srsly, if Coppedge’s supervisor actually documented every instance of Coppedge annoying someone or making a boo-boo, well, actually, then Coppedge would have a real case for workplace harassment because real human being supervisors just don’t do that! Except on Planet Coppedge.

    Does Becker think that a judge with 30 years experience on the bench is going to be fooled by ambulance-chasing courtroom theatrics? As I observed earlier, it will be interesting at what point the judge becomes totally annoyed with Becker.

    Prediction Number 54 – We will hear “badgering the witness” a thousand times during Zapp’s cross. Coppedge will a) faint, b) cry, c) cry out faintly, d) give the judge the Puppy Dog Look

  12. Jack Hogan says: “Arghhh.”

    Fortunately, the Intelligent Curmudgeon in the sky watches over us. It’s fixed.

  13. Doc Bill says:

    Prediction Number 54 – We will hear “badgering the witness” a thousand times during Zapp’s cross.

    Yes, but I don’t think the judge will let Coppedge off the stand so he can be coached by Becker throughout the cross examination. That’s just not allowed. Cross examination is essential. The sensitive fellow is just going to have to endure it, or maybe have all his direct testimony stricken from the record.

  14. Thanks SC.

    @Doc Bill

    Coppedge will a) faint, b) cry, c) cry out faintly, d) give the judge the Puppy Dog Look…

    …e) squint in pain while holding his head between his hands, f) continually ask Zapp to repeat the question, g) bite his fingernails, h) suck on his thumb.

  15. The sensitive fellow is just going to have to endure it, or maybe have all his direct testimony stricken from the record.

    That’s exactly the way to handle it. Give him a time limit (say, a week or two), and tell Becker that if Coppedge can’t be crossed in that time, his testimony won’t count. Put the ball in their court, but make it clear that no cross = no testimony (which probably means: no case).

  16. Shades of Kitzmiller! Behe’s ears worked just fine until his cross, then every question had to be repeated. What a boob.

  17. Not to defend Coppedge and his ridiculous lawsuit, but from personal experience I’m inclined to believe him about the migraines. When I get them, they attack without warning and mess me up for a good five hours, including nausea and sometimes vomiting, being unable to see, and being unable to form sentences or recall certain words. All things that could easily derail a trial.

    Migraines are no joke.