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What David Coppedge Has Already Accomplished by Going to Trial, Even Before Opening Statements

David Klinghoffer


It’s tempting to say he has already won, before opening statements even begin this morning at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in Los Angeles. There has been tremendous international media attention to this story, reasonably fair and factual. The headlines alone say it all: “Suit: NASA specialist axed over intelligent design” (that’s Yahoo). I’m very concerned about being able to get a seat in the courtroom!
I explained earlier why this case matters: It fits another tile in the mosaic that will eventually be recognized as demonstrating that the scientific “consensus” against intelligent design is the product of intimidation and group think. Coppedge has already contributed his tile.
In the courtroom yesterday I had the opportunity to meet him for the first time. The idea that this sweet and very soft-spoken guy was going around “bothering” people on the job is absurd, and one can only assume that Judge Hiroshige will perceive this clearly when Coppedge takes the stand. (It’s a bench trial rather than a jury trial.) You can see and hear the pain that David Coppedge has suffered because of the way he has been bullied and shut down and punished by his former employer, simply for not keeping silent about his scientific views.
The real question at this point is why NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab doesn’t just do what it takes to settle this case. What are they going to do, bring up witnesses to say that in the 14 years he worked there he somehow rubbed a few people the wrong way, out of 5,000 employees? Join the club. Especially at such a large federally funded quasi-academic organization, over so many years, who is not going to do that? Such places are not famous for their pleasant atmosphere.
In any event, as ENV pointed out last night, we already know that JPL had been gunning for Coppedge, because of his open ID sympathies. We have an email from his supervisor, Clark Burgess, unambiguously saying the Human Resources star chamber proceedings were set in motion against him only because of the pro-ID DVDs.
It’s a real David versus Goliath thing. JPL’s lawyers (three of them against Coppedge’s one) may have the polish and smooth talk and the government money but it sure seems like they don’t have much of an actual case.