David Coppedge Trial: Readers’ Poll

The Coppedge trial has ended, and as you know (but we always say) it was about 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.

So it’s time for a readers’ poll. What do you think will be the result? Yes, we all know that there will probably be an appeal no matter who wins, but what will the trial court’s decision be?

We’ve provided a few choices, but if none of them suits you, feel free to add your own thinking in the comments. The poll will stay open for a week. You can only vote once. Okay, go for it!

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

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24 responses to “David Coppedge Trial: Readers’ Poll

  1. docbill1351

    How could Coppedge win on demotion? He wasn’t demoted.

  2. docbill1351 says: “He wasn’t demoted.”

    Well, whatever. They took away his gold star.

  3. Hard to be confident without more reporting on the trial, but compared to the Dover trial this seems a slam-dunk.

    JPL is not stupid. If they thought there was a reasonable chance they might lose they probably would have settled before the trial. I think Team Coppedge was expecting a pre-trial offer to settle.

    Everything I’ve read points to a big loss for Team Coppedge. The only wild-card I see is the judge. If he’s sympathetic he could rule for Team Coppedge. But there is no evidence he might be.

  4. He Wasn’t “fired” He was laid off.

  5. The judge doesn’t seem like a wild card to me. At least several of his rulings have favored JPL; I can’t think of one that favored any of Coppedge’s motions, although I can think of some JPL motions that weren’t sustained.

    Apparently, the defeated media motion by JPL was largely moot. We didn’t get much press coverage anyway.

  6. I don’t think even Coppedge is hoping on the judge. Almost every single motion they brought before him was turned down. Coppedge even asked for a new trial. They know that they are screwed.

    From JPL’s perspective they could not or even appear to lose this trial. Unlike most employment lawsuits this one actually made it to the national news and was being watched by some very opinionated parties. A loss or even appeasement on JPL’s part would be a huge bit of negative publicity and would only fuel the next expelled movie.

    Coppedge himself was already writing a screen play about himself and he had the ability to make it. He would get the funding for it too if he won or even got a settlement.

    In short JPL was not going to half ass this trial.

  7. Spector567 said:

    In short JPL was not going to half ass this trial.

    I think we can safely say that regardless of any other aspect of this trial. Rational lawyers (meaning those working for JPL, and unlike Becker) don’t like to lose. Now, maybe, just maybe, because of the fact that Coppedge has essentially made this very personal, they have a more-than-normal motivation to win.

  8. I haven’t voted yet, but one thing is certain. In the alternate universe of the Discoveroids, Coppedge is a sure winner.

  9. Looks like Luskin and Klinghoffer have voted. And either Becker or Coppedge.

  10. Clearly some of the DI members read this blog, or perhaps a few groupies. Good work!

  11. retiredsciguy

    I voted “Coppedge will lose, big time”, but since the trial venue is California, I’m thinking the judge will hold off making any announcement ’til after December 21, 2012.

  12. Dave de Vries


    Like most who voted, I believe Coppedge will lose big time. However there is one argument presented in the Plaintiffs Trial Brief that, now the trial is over, I’d be very interested in hearing your opinions on.

    In the Plaintiff’s Trial Brief, Becker claimed on page 14, in Lines 23 – 25 his “Evidence/Probative of Causal Link” chart

    Evidence: Connor hired two new SAs in October 2010 months after she had been advised of the need to terminate two SAs.

    Probative of Causal Link: Shows plan to “pad” SA team with favored employees so that the disfavored employees could be terminated when attrition had already reduced the SA team to the budgetary level expected to be in place.

    He picked up the point again on Page 15, Line 24

    “(3) the hiring of two new personnel to Coppedge’s team in October 201 conveniently provided management with an excuse to terminate Coppedge in January 2011 in conformity with the number of reductions contemplated as early as April/May 2010”

    In Australia, our anti-dismissal laws are very tough against the employer, and evidence of this type would feature heavily. But as far as I can tell, none of the reports covering the trail or its summing up have mentioned it. Do any of you believe it will play any significance in the judge’s deliberations?

  13. Dave de Vries says: “Do any of you believe it will play any significance in the judge’s deliberations?”

    I’ve never focused on that before. I guess it depends on their qualifications. JPL says that Coppedge’s skills had become obsolete. If it’s a big point, why haven’t the Discoveroids mentioned it?

  14. Dave de Vries

    That’s what I was wondering. Thought maybe I’d missed it. Curious to see how the judge’s ruling reads in June. Cheers for all your coverage, mate

  15. The 2 newly hired employees might not be relevant or even admitted. JPL is a huge place and has jobs ranging from space exploration to Solar panels. Just because one section is laying off does not mean that other sections cannot hire.
    JPL’s defense even mentions how Chin was trying to get Coppedge into other projects but was unable to do so.
    Long story short JPL can show that they did everything in there power in order to utilize coppedge and even tried to get him basically another job in another section but were unable to do so.

  16. Did the other two SAs have the Linux/Unix skills latterly required by JPL. As I understand it, Our Heroic Martyr didn’t and didn’t make the effort to acquire them.

    In most socialistic tyrranies European countries, that would be sufficient justification for selection for redundancy ahead of newer employees.

  17. Dave de Vries – to add to what Spector said, recall that Coppedge’s skills weren’t up to date. If JPL needed sys admins who knew the EXAMPLE system, and Coppedge only knew FOGEY, it makes perfect sense for them to hire sys admins trained in EXAMPLE at the same time they are firing people who only know FOGEY (and refuse to learn EXAMPLE).

    Jack Hogan – the more I think about it, the more unlikely a settlement sounds to me. If Coppedge was one of hundreds of layoffs, then JPL really won’t want there to be any legal questions surrounding the layoff selection procedure. A Coppedge settlement might result in other disgruntled ex-employees bringing similar suits. Or even assuming no other ex-employees held any strong grudges at this time, some enterprising lawyer could ‘ambulance chase’ – i.e., solicit an ex-employee to start a class action suit. I don’t think they will settle if they can help it at all, beacuse they have to think about what a settlement would mean for all the other layoffs they did.

  18. eric says: “A Coppedge settlement might result in other disgruntled ex-employees bringing similar suits.”

    I’m not sure of that. Even with a downsizing layoff, it’s a great credential to have worked for JPL. How many of their former employees want to muck up their resumés by suing JPL over the layoff?

  19. SC: How many of their former employees want to muck up their resumés by suing JPL over the layoff?

    At the moment, one. But I don’t think JPL lawyers are going to advise their client to rely on the goodwill of their former employees. They’re going to say an outright win reduces the risk of future lawsuits, a settlement increases the risk.

  20. SC said:

    How many of their former employees want to muck up their resumés by suing JPL over the layoff?

    How about “How many former employees want to take the time to sue JPL vice taking the time to find a job?”

  21. There answer is none.
    I’ve said it before. The simple reality is that Coppedge never intended to get another job.

  22. I voted he would lose across the board. He seems like a provacateur, and certainly a busybody with an agenda. I don’t see how someone who espouses an anti-science, deceitful “religion” can be seen as anything but
    intentionally destructive. There needs to be a state devoted exclsuively to folks like Coppedge , where they can all live together and regress to the Stone Age together. I nominate Oklahoma .

  23. The Curmudgeon wrote:

    I have not voted yet …

    “The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in times of great moral crisis maintain their neutrality.”

  24. Okay, Longie. I voted. You shamed me into it.