David Coppedge Decision: Getting Nasty

The last time we wrote about the Coppedge case, we told you there would be A Slight Delay in seeing the court’s final decision. As you know, this is 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.

On 31 October the court asked JPL-Caltech’s lawyers to write up a final order in JPL’s favor, and that hasn’t yet been completed. Meanwhile, Coppedge has requested an extremely detailed Statement of Decision listing 68 specific items he wants discussed in the decision document. We described that in our last post. Now, JPL has responded to that request.

You can see JPL’s response at the archive maintained by our friends at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), located here: NCSE’s Coppedge archive. The latest pleading is Defendant JPL-Caltech’s Response to Plaintiff Coppedge’s Request for Statement of Decision (pdf file). It says, with some bold font added for emphasis:

Defendant California Institute of Technology (“Defendant”) provides this response to Plaintiff David Coppedge’s (“Plaintiff”) Request for Statement of Decision (“Request”) as a courtesy to the Court and Plaintiff, not as an acknowledgement that Plaintiff’s Request was either procedurally or substantively appropriate. In fact, as Defendant explains below, it was neither.

Well! That’s a very classy way of saying: “Coppedge’s latest pleading is totally off-the-wall!” Then, after quoting the court’s tentative order that there will be a ruling for JPL-Caltech on all causes of action, which the Defendant’s lawyers should prepare “based on the arguments and points and authorities presented in the final arguments (oral and written) of the Defendants which are adopted by this reference as the rationale for this ruling,” they say:

Under California Code of Civil Procedure Section 632, “[t]he court shall issue a statement of decision explaining the factual and legal basis for its decision as to each of the principal controverted issues at trial upon the request of any party appearing at the trial.” (emphasis added). … Absent further direction from the Court, Defendant believes it is not required to include any other content in its Proposed Statement of Decision, and it does not intend to do so.

Pretty strong, huh? Let’s read on:

Second, Plaintiff’s Request is procedurally improper. The California Rules of Court present as alternatives a Court-ordered Proposed Statement of Decision prepared by a party or one prepared by the Court at the request of a party. … The Court has ordered Defendant to prepare a Proposed Statement of Decision, meaning the Court does not have to prepare a proposed Statement of Decision in response to Plaintiff’s request. To the extent Plaintiff disagrees with the content of Defendant’s Proposed Statement, his method of expressing that disagreement is through objections.

In other words, Coppedge’s request is not only off-the-wall, it’s outlandish, way-out, and totally bizarre. JPL’s response continues:

Plaintiff does not have a right to disregard the Court’s order, ask the Court to discard the Defendant’s Proposed Statement of Decision, and demand that the Court prepare one addressing the topics that happen to interest him.

The whole thing is really good, but we can’t type it all. Here’s one more excerpt:

Third, … the “issues” Plaintiff listed in his Request go far beyond what is reasonably or appropriately included in a Statement of Decision, let alone what the Rules permit. … A large number of the sixty-eight items listed in Plaintiff’s Request do not concern issues at all — much less principal controverted ones — but rather, dredge up individual points of evidence or factual matters that were not addressed to Plaintiff’s satisfaction at trial.


Put simply, Plaintiff cannot commandeer the Statement of Decision as a way to re-try his case.

Sounds good. In the final paragraph they say this:

In sum, Defendant shall proceed with preparing the Proposed Statement of Decision, at the Court’s direction, and without regard to Plaintiff’s improper and legally baseless Request.

We don’t need to say anything. JPL’s pleading speaks for itself. But what will the judge do? Nobody knows. Stay tuned to this blog.

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

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13 responses to “David Coppedge Decision: Getting Nasty

  1. After reading through the previous links you provided it seems there is little for Coppedge to argue against. He refused to upgrade his Linux skills in a timely manner and in doing so disqualified himself from eligibility for further employment with the Cassini project. Coppedge’s possible reasons for refusing to develop required skills have become rather obvious as well.

  2. IOW, Defendant to Plaintiff — “Go pound sand.”

    I wonder what the odds of an appeal are.

  3. These halfwits really are their own worst enemies. I suspect the odds of an appeal are high, because they’re too dopey to cut their losses. Instead, they’ll double down and get pummelled yet again.

  4. @SC

    I think the following correction is needed:

    “To the extent Plaintiff disagrees with the content of Plaintiff’s Defendant’s Proposed Statement, his method of expressing that disagreement is through objections.”

  5. gnome de net says: “I think the following correction is needed”

    Right! Fixed it. I nearly went blind typing that thing. It’s a scan, so cut and paste doesn’t work.

  6. Ceteris Paribus

    I get the feeling that the attorneys Coppedge has hired to represent him are a pair of former patent attorneys who made their initial fortune fleecing hapless inventors of perpetual motion machines.

    “Don’t worry about the initial rejections old chap. Just sign up to pay us for a couple more legal go-arounds with the legal system, and pretty soon you will get exactly what you have coming to you.”

  7. Lawyer Becker is probably a flaming creationist of the Disco Tute variety, that is, totally unprincipled. I doubt Coppers is paying a plug nickel for this farce and either Becker is eating a lot of it or he’s getting some clams from the Disco Tute and their friends. The Tute wins however the decision goes and they’ll either crow Victory or lament Expelled with equal effect.

    Nobody cares about old Coppy and that’s a fact. I doubt his “speaking tour” would be worth more than a few pot-luck dinners, but, who knows, maybe the Tute offered to make him a Junior Birdman or something.

  8. Maybe Becker can sneak a cam into the JPL hdqtrs to see if there are any cracks in the defense to exploit.

  9. It doesn’t matter what Becker does, cam or no, the trial’s over. Too bad, so sad. Even if JPL has a Coppy Gone Friday with beer, it doesn’t matter. It’s over.

    JPL has forgotten all about Coppy because, if you recall, it was Coppy bugging people forever, not the other way around. Also, several hundred of his co-workers have been laid off, his group has been reorganized, his job has disappeared and things move on.

    Even the Coppers Expelled Tour is a non-starter. How many of the other Expelled give persecution “talks” for money. I can tell you: none.

  10. The Coppedge lawsuit is almost certainly bankrolled by the Alliance Defense Fund in large measure. We know that the DI is providing legal assistance as well, and probably funding as well.

  11. Rubble says: “The Coppedge lawsuit is almost certainly bankrolled by …”

    Yes, but except for the obvious pawns in the game, most of the players know know they’re unlikely to win. Winning would be nice, but it’s not essential. It’s all about the struggle. The struggle is not only a mindset, it’s a way of life, and more importantly — with the right fundraising techniques — it’s a lifelong career.

  12. First, a correction. The ADF is now known as the Alliance Defending Freedom. I was aware that there was a name change, but somehow I pulled out the wrong name. My apologies for the confusion.

    Creationists love martyrs. They apparently want to “prove” that the legal system, as well as government in general, is taking away their religious freedom. Losses here and through the appeals process serve that goal. “The struggle” bestows respect upon the involved parties within their community at large. Nice way to make a living, huh?

  13. Creationists love martyrs.

    Of course they do. They are commanded to be Jesus-like, so obviously they want the opportunity to crawl up on the cross themselves. All that love thy neighbor and throwing the money changers out of the temple seems to get forgotten.