David Coppedge Trial: 22 Mar ’12

It’s the end of another day of trial involving the suit 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.

When the action ended yesterday, it was pretty much the end of JPL’s cross-examination of Coppedge. Becker (Coppedge’s lawyer) was going to put his client back on the stand for re-direct — in an attempt to clear up any blunders that may have been committed during cross. We suspected that might encourage another post from 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).

And we were right. They’ve just posted Employment Reviews Support David Coppedge’s Claim that NASA Punished Him for Supporting Intelligent Design, by David Klinghoffer. We can’t find any other news, so that’s what we’ll go with.

Unfortunately, Klinghoffer doesn’t report a single thing that occurred at the trial — not one. Instead, presumably to avoid discussing embarrassing facts that are leaking out, he gives us his own one-sided review of some of the exhibits. In other words, his post isn’t worth very much, but it’s all we’ve got at the moment. To the extent that Klinghoffer’s post tells us anything, it’s that there was nothing in court today that the Discoveroids want to talk about. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

Reading over David Coppedge’s Employee Contribution Assessment and Planning (ECAP) reports, from his tenure as a 14-year veteran computer specialist for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, is exactly like reading a kid’s report cards. Having now reviewed his ECAPs, I can tell you that Coppedge received fine marks right up until the moment that supervisors turned their attention to his support for intelligent design.

Somehow, we’re not quite ready to take Klinghoffer’s word for it. He continues.

In a brutal take-no-prisoners style, JPL’s team has done everything it can to impeach Coppedge’s account of himself, even accusing him of an ethics violation for selling the occasional pro-ID DVD to interested co-workers and neglecting to report it as doing other business while on the job. Next thing you know they’ll make it an issue that he took home a ballpoint pen to work the Sunday crossword puzzle.

A “brutal take-no-prisoners style”? Really? We doubt that it’s as brutal as the way the Discoveroids treat the reputation of Charles Darwin. Oh, you noticed, of course, that Klinghoffer failed to mention what one news account told us came out at trial yesterday — Coppedge not only didn’t inform JPL of his DVD sales, he also failed to report his DVD revenue to the IRS.

Then Klinghoffer spends a few paragraphs reviewing those employee reports. We won’t bother with his description because we assume he’s cherry-picking the items he writes about. Let’s read on:

Suddenly, we find another supervisor, Greg Chin, weighing in. Chin admits Coppedge’s technical competence, his “accuracy, thoroughness and orderliness,” but out of nowhere lays into his “interpersonal and communications skills.” The very skills that previously had met or exceeded expectations were now the subject of scathing and ominous criticism.

Why is that difficult to accept? Maybe Coppedge had recently lost control of himself, or maybe Chin was the first objective supervisor to take a look at what was going on. Rather than accepting Klinghoffer’s interpretation of things, we’ll wait to see how the facts come out in court. His article continues:

The date of the document, April 1, 2009, when it was signed by Burgess and Coppedge, is important because it’s barely a month after the March 2 confrontation when Chin shouted at Coppedge to “stop pushing your religion,” intelligent design. That was after a colleague complained about a pro-ID DVD that Coppedge lent her. Stirred up by Greg Chin, a Human Resources investigation had already begun assembling further criticisms that somehow never made it into all those previous years of quite satisfactory ECAPs.

All we can determine from this is that Klinghoffer and Coppedge have the same interpretation of events. The judge will decide, after hearing both sides, whether to accord any credibility to Coppedge’s version. As for Klinghoffer’s version, that has no significance whatsoever. For what it’s worth, here’s Klinghoffer’s conclusion, which comes as no surprise:

At JPL, as at other academic institutions and not least those associated with the federal government, ID is a red flag. You can’t bring it up for discussion, except to condemn it, without the expectation of being gored or trampled to death. That’s how the “scientific consensus” in favor of Darwinian evolution and materialist orthodoxy actually works.

So there you are. Another day of trial has ended, and we don’t know any more than we did when it began. But we can guess that things didn’t go well for Coppedge.

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

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19 responses to “David Coppedge Trial: 22 Mar ’12

  1. JPL has in the past been very much a Lake Wobegon place where everyone truly was above average. Because of that it is very unusual to write an ECAP that is not very positive, very few employees would be there if they were not almost as good as their peers.

    Because of that the following ECAP is actually quite damning. Anyone at JPL who got an ECAP like this would be well advised to clean up his/her act or discover a new planet or send out his/her resumé

    “David has done a good job this year” (2006-2007). “Dave has gone above and beyond what would be normally expected to communicate with individual & teams who have expressed dissatisfaction with prior interactions.” “Dave is technically competent” and “has most of his project customers supporting what he’s trying to do for them” (2007-2008).

    Of course, Becker has no idea how to interpret a JPL ECAP in the context of other JPL ECAPS so he doesn’t know how big the red flag is that is attached to this one.

  2. It’s difficult enough to compare employee evaluations within a company much less evaluate them outside. Klapperflapper is blowing smoke to place any sort of interpretation on those ECAP’s, although, I can tell you, I would have been shocked and horrified if one of those was mine!

    It’s all very subjective. In two years, following a change in supervisors from a guy who was technically brilliant to a guy who was a sociopathic bureaucrat who management needed to park someplace, I went from “the most knowledgeable systems manager we’ve ever had” to “thinks he knows everything,” but that was the year I became an ID advocate.

    Because of the vagaries of evaluations, supervisors never looked at them when interviewing people changing groups. In general, evaluations are useless.

  3. Doc Bill says: “It’s difficult enough to compare employee evaluations within a company much less evaluate them outside.”

    You need to know the system. I recall, from many years ago, the ratings used for annual Army officer evaluations. The highest was “outstanding,” and the lowest was something like “satisfactory” or “competent” (I can’t remember). So if someone were said to be a “competent” officer it sounded okay to the outside world, but to those inside it conveyed something else. I’m told the system has been revised recently, so an officer can actually be rated as incompetent, but it used to be different.

  4. In companies where I worked, a rating below “satisfactory” in any of the areas reviewed required a corrective action plan with target dates etc. In general, because most managers do not like to have those difficult conversations, they avoided rating anyone as less than satisfactory, and would address shortcomings in other ways than through the formal performance reviews. Also, and this is mentioned in the filings for this trial, negative statements on performance reviews hinders the ability of a manager to transfer an employee to another group.

    I imagine in Coppedge’s case, writing anything slightly negative in a performance review would create a long, difficult debate during the meeting with him. That’s probably a deterrent. I had two or three direct reports over my career that would debate anything less than an “outstanding” rating, and it can be very frustrating.

    Klinghoffer has probably never worked anywhere that conducted annual performance reviews. He equates them to his kids report cards. That, alone, says all you need to know about the depth of his knowledge on this subject.

  5. There’s something hidden and glossed over in those evaluations…

    “”Most on the Cassini Project have good words for David,” with one unnamed exception who has “some reservations.”…“Dave is technically competent” and “has most of his project customers supporting what he’s trying to do for them”…</blockquote]

    This is with Klinghoffer spinning as hard as he can. "Most"? And saying someone whose job is very technical is merely "technically competent" is damning with faint praise.

    Also, seems maybe the issues with Coppedge became more apparent after he became "team lead". In my experience a "team lead" has a lot more contact with others outside of the team than other team members.

    Note how the Klinghoffer Propaganda Machine is desperately trying to spin this as all about ID. From other reporting on the trial it seems ID has barely been mentioned so far.

  6. I was going to say those evaluations don’t actually sound great. Even in my office we have a process that is more like us discussing our goals with our bosses. Very friendly, no-one wants a confrontation and they are mostly positive.

    These continually allude to the fact that he has problems with employees despite the fact it says that he’s working on it. A blow up in the office would be considered a step back in any event and show that he actually hadn’t improved.

    The other thing that Kling continues to gloss over is that this was a LAYOFF. They did not fire Coph, they laid him off. Electing to keep other more useful employees over him. Considering that he’s a 61 year old IT professional with only 5-6 years of seniority that isn’t a stretch. (unless I was reading his full time hiring date and layoff dates wrong)

    I suspect from this point on Kling and company will not report any news on the trial and will elect to run there own online kangaroo court from now till the end of the trial.

  7. “In a brutal take-no-prisoners style, JPL’s team has done everything it can to impeach Coppedge’s account of himself,…”

    Uh…Coppedge is suing JPL for half a million dollars. Four (4) years (presumably) at $110,000 a year, plus attorney fees, plus punitive damages, plus costs. What the heck did they think Caltech and JPL would do? Write them a check and an apology? Zapp is doing his job as counsel for a company being sued for $500,000 in doing everything he legally can to prevent that from happening.

    Discovery Institute acts as if this is a game—some sort of internet interaction or debate around coffee. They are suing for money! Time to put your big boy pants on, and expect the other side to respond.

  8. This just in: Cassini Mission Receives Air and Space Museum Award. It appears that JPL is doing just fine without Coppedge’s services.
    Of course, it’s all probably a part of the bigger conspiracy against ID. Waited until now to give the award to make sure Coppedge wouldn’t be a part of it. Yeah. That’s it.

  9. retiredsciguy

    Spector567 surmises, “I suspect from this point on Kling and company will not report any news on the trial and will elect to run their own online kangaroo court from now till the end of the trial.”

    And well beyond.

  10. retiredsciguy says: “And well beyond.”

    They have their own version of the Kitzmiller trial, and they recite it often at their blog. All their witnesses were brilliant, nothing they said was contradicted, but the judge was a fool. It’s shaping up the same with the Coppedge trial. All the evidence is on their side, but the world is in the grip of Darwinist terrorists, so the great man is going to lose. They’re building that narrative as the trial proceeds, and they’ll refer to it often in years to come.

  11. From Fantasy Land the DI believed, as in “clap for Tinkerbell!” that a conservative judge would give them a favorable ruling as if the judge, too, believed he had a role to play in overturning methodological naturalism or whatever the creationists refer to as reality. Judge Jones being a smart guy picked up on the scam early on and in his scathing ruling predicted that the forces of evil would attempt to paint him as an activist judge which, of course, happened.

    As has been pointed out by several commenters the same sort of morality play is going on with Coppedge. Already the DI has painted Coppers as being under threat by the Darwinian Lobby (hey, what ever happened to the Darwinian Pressure Group, Delta Pi Gamma, of which I am President for Life – I get no respect!) whom the judge obviously fears and they’re setting up for the big loss.

    As Ed correctly pointed out, Klankclonker has never worked – maybe I should just leave it there. He had a shot at being a contributor to the Huffington Post but his first article was so offensive and full of lies that after something like 900-to-zero negative comments he was told never to submit again. Now, it takes real skill to get fired from the HuffPo!

    As for a performance review being like a school report card, spoken like somebody who’s never held a job. In school you study, take a test, get a grade and that is the end of it. In an oil company you study, apply your knowledge, do good work and get dinged arbitrarily for no rhyme or reason.

    No wonder ole Klingcloser is so sweet on Coppy, they’re two peas in a pod or, rather, two jackasses in a stall. Why, they’re probably having lunch together right now and swapping Bigfoot stories.

  12. Remember Klingwrap’s blog post http://www.evolutionnews.org/2012/03/why_the_coppedg057091.html
    in which he said “This will open yet another window on the culture of free-speech suppression that exists across academic and para-academic institutions.”?

    I don’t know about you guys, but so far I haven’t seen any windows opening on anything other than Coppedge’s irritating behavior (both in the workplace and in the courtroom). If it continues to play out this way, Klingie will have very little material to spin when it’s all over.

  13. Another trial day is ending, and there’s no news. I still haven’t seen any news about yesterday either. They’re not making it easy to blog about this case. My only guess is that after seeing what a poor witness Coppedge has turned out to be, the press has lost interest altogether. But still, something may show up this evening.

  14. Not only does the for profit media seem uninterested in this trial, the right of center web sites/blogs are almost completely ignoring it, too. The DI is failing to rally their groupies and the creationist blog-o-sphere, such as it is, to Coppedge’s cause. I bet they’re not getting PR exposure they were hoping for from this. BWHAHAHA.

  15. retiredsciguy

    Doc Bill speculates, “No wonder ole Klingcloser is so sweet on Coppy, they’re two peas in a pod or, rather, two jackasses in a stall. Why, they’re probably having lunch together right now and swapping Bigfoot stories.”

    Or maybe not. If they truly are alike, they probably can’t stand each other’s company.

  16. Tomato Addict

    Disappointing to have no news, but look what I found: a succinct summary of Intelligent Design theory. Enjoy!

  17. @TA: C….a….n..’..t…… b….r…e…a…t…..h…..e….!!!!!!!

  18. Tomato Addict

    @Gary: Breathtaking in it’s simplicity, isn’t it? I think “curvaceously mocking squirrels” may become my new mantra.
    Credit where credit is due, I found this on Improbable.com. There is also a part 2 that links to this video on speaking gibberish, which manages to be both silly and profoundly interesting. I was about to recommend it to Casey Luskin, but I’m not sure he would understand.

  19. TA said:

    I think “curvaceously mocking squirrels” may become my new mantra.

    From now on, when you talk about how someone is “curvaceously mocking squirrels”, I will know precisely what you are talking about. As in, “Oh, that Klinghoffer has been curvaceously mocking squirrels again!”