David Coppedge Trial: Crickets Still Chirping

More than a month ago we wrote Coppedge Trial: Crickets Chirping. Although the trial ended on 16 April — six months ago — we still don’t have the court’s decision in 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.

It’s not like we’re waiting for an opinion from some appellate court. We know those can take months. What we’ve been looking for is the trial court’s decision in an employment case. It seems to us that this is taking an incredible amount of time for what ought to be a routine piece of business for the court system.

Since our last post the news media haven’t written about the case, and the Discoveroids haven’t blogged about it for quite some time. While we’re sitting around twiddling our thumbs, perhaps we could use this lull to consider what the past six months have meant to the parties.

First, JPL: For the past half-year, they’ve been able to conduct their affairs without the presence of what they regarded as a troublesome employee, one whom they let go in a downsizing because they thought his computer skills had become outmoded. They’re rid of Coppedge and presumably they don’t miss him. The press hasn’t provided much coverage of the trial, and we may have missed or forgotten something, but we don’t recall anything about any JPL employee who testified in Coppedge’s favor. So from JPL’s point of view, other than some time their employees had to spend in court, the last six months have been just fine.

But what’s it been like for Coppedge? He still has his creationist website, but as far as we know he’s been unemployed. Maybe he’s done some speaking and computer work from time to time, and maybe he’s being subsidized by those sympathetic to his cause, but we don’t know about such things. From our limited information, the past six months haven’t been good for Coppedge, and he’s got to deal with the anxiety of wondering what the court is going to do.

Then there are the lawyers. We assume the lawyers for JPL (and Caltech) are getting paid, so they’re not suffering. On the Coppedge side of things, the Alliance Defense Fund (recently renamed the Alliance Defending Freedom) is — or was — involved, but they don’t officialy appear of record. On court pleadings, Coppedge’s lawyer is always William J. Becker, Jr. We don’t know what the arrangement is with Becker.

There are some well-funded groups that promote causes like Coppedge’s, so Becker may be getting some contributions from somewhere, but we have no information about that and no reason to speculate. Presumably he won’t be paid except out of the recovery he hopes to win from JPL. For the moment he’s put in a lot of time and effort and our guess is that has nothing to show for it. He’ll be well rewarded if the judge rules in his favor; but before payday there will likely be an appeal.

So where does that leave things? JPL and its lawyers are doing fine, while Coppedge and his lawyer are (we imagine) less okay — at least for now. But everything could change when the opinion comes down. Whichever side wins the trial, the parties could decide to settle in order to avoid an appeal. That would mean the Coppedge side will end up with something for all their trouble. Or the parties could remain stubborn and the case can go through at least one appeal, and then perhaps another to the Supreme Court of California.

We have no idea how things will end, but we suspect that time is not on Coppedge’s side. He certainly couldn’t have found the past six months enjoyable, and regardless of what the trial judge does, appeals can eat up at least another year. Meanwhile, the crickets continue to chirp.

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

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24 responses to “David Coppedge Trial: Crickets Still Chirping

  1. One thing is certain, his job at JPL is long gone. JPL has moved on and old Coppy has left the building. Also, his prospects as a UNIX administrator are fading fast, because he really didn’t have a lot of experience in that, either. He had no Linux skills so, really, he’s undergrown himself out of a job if that makes any sense. It would be like me trying to get a web design job as a FrontPage expert. Sorry, old timer, but what’s a buggy whip?

    And in other news JPL is embroiled in a flurry of religious discrimination and wrongful termination lawsuits, said nobody ever.

  2. Doc Bill said:

    his prospects as a UNIX administrator are fading fast, because he really didn’t have a lot of experience in that, either. He had no Linux skills

    Good call, considering this.

  3. I think the first web server I installed was NCSA in 1995 or so. Early Apache, too, a year or so later. Then I actually bought a package from Netscape but couldn’t get it running on my Sun server until I fixed a bug in the shell script. Pretty proud of figuring that out! Then installed FrontPage after fixing lots of bugs in the scripts, which I came to expect. FrontPage, don’t get me started on that lousy package. Eventually converted to Dreamweaver which I still use from time to time. Too bad Sun croaked, it served us well at the time.

  4. To be fair Sun didn’t croak. Sun went on a blind date with Oracle and was never seen again.

  5. Isn’t the Internet a wonderful thing. From my chair in the UK, I can tell you that David Coppedge will be in Canada on October 26 and 27 featuring in the Creation Science Association of Alberta’s 2012 Creation Weekend in Edmonton.
    http://www.create.ab.ca/
    He gets around.

  6. Alan(UK) says: “Isn’t the Internet a wonderful thing.”

    It is indeed. We posted about that back in June: Coppedge Crusade Coming to Canada.

  7. Wow. According to the event flyer it’s free admission. They can’t even get people to pay to see him.

  8. “An information technology specialist and high level system administrator at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, he worked on the international Cassini Mission to Saturn from 1997 until last year. In that capacity he was heavily involved in all the mission operations and from 2000-2009 in the capacity of Team Lead System Administrator.”

    Rather an inflated description of his job, yes? Ah, but then he was in charge of the entire program, wasn’t he?

  9. He’s the most Interesting Man in the world. The Cassini mission was launched to study him. He turned down the job of Administrator of NASA because it interfered with his bowling league schedule. The Eskimo call him Niut-ta-ikkt which means He who swims with polar bears. He is the most Interesting Man in the world.

  10. I was just wondering about this. Thanks for the update, Curmie, even if there isn’t anything to update.

  11. docbill1351 notes of Mr. Coppedge:

    The Eskimo call him Niut-ta-ikkt which means He who swims with polar bears

    That might qualify him as the second most interesting man in the world.

    The top spot, I am pretty sure, is reserved for our own SC, whom the Inuit revere as Niut-tik-taalik, or ‘Curmudgeon who fondles missing links.’

  12. At least the skeleton website offers some humour. The claim that the CSAA has been around for 30 years is almost as funny as their use of the word “science”.

  13. Tomato Addict says: “Thanks for the update, Curmie, even if there isn’t anything to update.”

    It’s not easy to write about the news that nothing is happening. It requires a higher level of consciousness than hearing the sound of one hand clapping.

  14. Megalonyx says: “Curmudgeon who fondles missing links.”

    The word among creationists is that you are the most interesting man in the world for being living proof that something can indeed come from nothing. (Don’t ask what that’s supposed to mean.)

  15. From one of your previous posts I was fairly certain it would be about 90 days from the last Plaintif brief (So around Thanksgiving). While it seems like a delay tactic, it might be more of a hail Mary tactic. Even if he had stayed up to date on his computer skills the two years or so unemployment, in any field, along with the lawsuit will make him unable to find any work, that’s a certainty. As for him working for free… You know there will be a collection plate passed around to help Brother Coppedge out. It worked for Peter Popoff to such a great extent that he didn’t even bother to cash the $5 checks.

  16. @Dean, that is an interesting website. Just read an article about dinosaurs killed in a flood and some other dino bones that are apparently unfossilized. Strange how such a finding didn’t earn someone a major scientific award and make front page news, and how you only hear about such things from creationist websites. Must be that global sciencey-type conspiracy thing.

  17. Just for the heck of it I checked the Kitzmiller timeline. Closing arguments in that 40 day trial were on November 4, 2005, and Judge Jones released his 139 page opinion of December 20. The Coppedge decision does not seem to me to be that much more difficult or complex than the Kitzmiller decision.

  18. RBH says: “Just for the heck of it I checked the Kitzmiller timeline.”

    A better comparison would be state court cases in California, and I’ve never seen such. The longer this thing drags on, the more afraid I am that the judge is hopelessly confused and therefore likely to make a ghastly decision. He may really think he’s supposed to rule on the scientific validity of intelligent design.

    Anyway, once again the spam-catcher delayed your comment. Sorry, it’s not my doing.

  19. I’ve been wondering if for some reason the judge is waiting until after the election.

  20. Curmie writes: “It’s not easy to write about the news that nothing is happening.”

    And the Discotute makes it look so easy.

  21. In addition to Edmonton, Alberta (Oct. 26-27), Coppedge will also be speaking in British Coilumbia Oct. 28-30.

  22. I had to laugh when they referred to his website as “upbeat” – I guess that is cretin-speak for “he is an obnoxious, underinformed and aggressive ignoramus and his articles are filled with errors, insults, and name-calling”…

  23. FYI – Court ruled on submitted matters yesterday (October 31, 2012). Don’t know what it is, but not a final opinion.

  24. DagoodS, I checked the clerk’s website last night and that wasn’t shown. Well, soon we shall see what the Halloween ruling was all about.