We once again return to 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 we posted yesterday (Week Five Surprise), the Coppedge team was in a bit of a snit because of some surprise evidence that JPL had come up with, and they want that evidence stricken or they want a new trial.
Now we have JPL’s response. These pleadings were obtained from the court clerk’s office by our friends at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), and then posted at their archive of pleadings in the case: NCSE’s Coppedge archive. They’re scans of pdf files.
Let’s look at JPL’s opposition to Coppedge’s Motion in Limine #7. It says:
Coppedge’s Motion in Limine #7 is nothing more than a feeble attempt to utilize an unobjectionable portion of testimony as grounds to obtain a new trial that Coppedge already believes he will need. The testimony in question — former Section Manager Kevin Klenk’s description of departmental rankings used for compensation purposes, explanation that Coppedge ranked in the lower half, and reference to written documentation of those rankings — was never called for by any of Coppedge’s discovery requests or deposition questions.
That’s pretty clear. Nothing to see here, folks. Everybody move along now. Well, let’s read a bit more. JPL discusses the specific document requests that Coppedge made, and to which JPL responded. Regarding the “surprise” evidence JPL says:
[W]hile the compensation rankings corroborate the layoff rankings, they were not considered in the layoff process and thus do not constitute evidence that Caltech took the actions it did (i.e. laying off Coppedge) for legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons.
After elaborating on their argument that the compensation rankings were never requested, JPL says:
Second, setting aside the fact that Coppedge never requested the compensation rankings, he suffered no prejudice from the fact that Caltech did not provide them in the discovery process, because they are not evidence on which Caltech contends it based any of the decisions in this case. … In the light of this, Coppedge has no basis whatsoever for suggesting he was prejudiced, or that he was somehow “prevented” from identifying additional witnesses or developing different cross-examination strategies.
They conclude with this:
Finally, because Caltech did nothing wrong, there is no basis for either evidentiary sanctions or a new trial.
There are a couple dozen pages of older discovery pleadings attached as exhibits, and in addition, they also filed a monster-sized pleading from October 27, 2010, in which they objected to Coppedge’s discovery request. We haven’t studied that, but presumably it supports JPL’s contention that they didn’t withhold anything material to the case.
So there you are. It’s up to the judge now. Were we to guess how he’ll rule, we’d say that he’s going to rule for JPL on this one. There’s no jury to confuse, and besides that, JPL’s argument that the compensation rankings had nothing to do with its decisions make sense to us.
We don’t think Coppedge is going to get a new trial. Besides, what good would that do him?
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