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Tentative Ruling in Coppedge Case

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The judge of the Coppedge discrimination case has tentatively ruled against David Coppedge and in favor of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Discovery Institute’s John West reports on the story here.

14 Replies to “Tentative Ruling in Coppedge Case

  1. 1
    leebowman says:

    It’s an unfortunate fact of life that victims of injustice do not always receive vindication in our courts. Because we don’t know the final ruling in this case yet (or, equally important, the judge’s reasoning), we still don’t know whether this will be the case for David Coppedge. But if Coppedge doesn’t receive his vindication in the courts, the problems of bigotry and discrimination at taxpayer-funded JPL that his case exposed will become all the more pressing as a matter of public policy.

    The above is a quote from John West, and he is correct. Courts of Law often side with the power, as was certainly the case in the Kitzmiller v Dover case. But in the end, jurisprudence shall preside. Or does it ….?

    But hey, they make their money over appeals, in which the facts are often more carefully scrutinized, and where hindsight often prevails. We’ll see.

  2. 2
    Joe says:

    As I said back in April:

    My thoughts on this have always hinged on what Coppedge’s job performance was. Was he good at what he did, was he one of the best, just adequate, above average, hard worker- because if his performance was better than most, at his position, then he would have a case against JPL pertaining to be laid-off being linked to his religious, political and scientific PoV. Especially if he was better than those they retained.

    That said, last week there was something about an employee performance evaluation that had Coppedge ranked below average, but I have no idea about the metric used nor who used it to make the evaluation. Then again JPL said it didn’t use that to determine who got laid-off and who was retained.

    So that is another question- How did they decide who to let go? I have always assumed it was based on performance, however I know reality says the butt-kissers get to stay and the alleged boat-rockers get the heave-ho.

    Any thoughts?

  3. 3
    Robert Byers says:

    I didn’t follow it much however it seemed to me to come down to proving secret motivations of the bosses.
    This with a modern judiciary that is hostile to all things CHristian , conservative or American/native.
    Yet the big thing is this was a great publicity case for creationism to tell the world we are out there and stirring things up so much a climate of resistance is going on in institutions and science jobs that this became a celebrated case without actual knowledge of secret motivations.
    In short the world is being told by case or movie we have a EDUCATED SUSPICION that hostility to God and/or Genesis is bringing repression .

  4. 4
    CLAVDIVS says:

    Hi Joe @ 2

    So that is another question- How did they decide who to let go? I have always assumed it was based on performance, however I know reality says the butt-kissers get to stay and the alleged boat-rockers get the heave-ho.

    The procedure JPL followed to decide who to let go was spelled out in the filings:

    In accordance with Caltech’s layoff policy (in effect since 2006), Section Manager Richard Van Why was tasked with ranking all SAs in his section who performed similar work based on the following standard criteria: need, skills, abilities, performance, conduct, reliability, education/training, and experience.

    It was not disputed by Mr Coppedge in evidence that his technical skills were poorer than other admins in the specific areas required by the ongoing mission. So, sure, other things being equal butt-kissers get to stay and boat-rockers don’t, but things were not equal here by Mr Coppedge’s own admission.

    Cheers

  5. 5
    Joe says:

    Hi Claudius,

    I am sure Coppedge disputed that his technical skills were poorer than other admins in the specific areas required bu ongoing missions. Otherwise he wouldn’t even have a case.

  6. 6
    CLAVDIVS says:

    Hi Joe @ 5

    I am sure Coppedge disputed that his technical skills were poorer than other admins in the specific areas required bu ongoing missions. Otherwise he wouldn’t even have a case.

    You’d think so, wouldn’t you?

    But when cross-examined he admitted that colleagues had more expertise in web servers and a system called “ITL”, and that his Linux skills were “minimal” — systems that apparently would be required going forward. It seems Mr Coppedge was more expert in Cassini’s private network, HP OpenView and a file management system called “AFS” — but these systems had been already decommissioned.

    JPL brought this up in their post-trial brief and it was not disputed in Coppedge’s reply brief.

    In light of such evidence, it’s not clear to me why this case was litigated at all. Perhaps Mr Coppedge and his lawyer were simply unaware of this stuff until they were someway down the track?

    Cheers

  7. 7
    tjguy says:

    So the point is that even tho his skills may not have been as high as the others, obviously he still thought he had a case. Just because they were possibly lower doesn’t mean they were inadequate. He had great job reviews up until the ID thing burst on the scene. It is very difficult to believe that these guys who were so opposed to his ID views and didn’t like him were not influenced at all by this in what they did. Very hard to believe! I think it is much more likely they seized on this skills issue as a way to get rid of him and cover their tracks. Besides, they are the ones who hired him to begin with. So even tho they knew of his skills level, they still hired him showing that they didn’t think it was a big enough problem to keep them from hiring him. This clearly comes across as a last minute thing they came up with to try and defend themselves. It is strong evidence showing that this was clearly not foremost on their minds and therefore was not the real reason they dumped him! Otherwise it would have been the featured argument in the trial from the beginning. No prominent lawyer team could possibly be that inept!

  8. 8
    CLAVDIVS says:

    Hi tjguy @ 7

    He had great job reviews up until the ID thing burst on the scene.

    No, he didn’t.

    Mr Coppedge’s notes in his own handwriting from 2004, 2005 and 2006 came out in the trial, showing he had been told throughout that “every office had complaints”, “even my own team members were complaining”, and “people think you’re hard to deal with”.

    The official written reviews had warning signs as well:
    2004 – “interface to his customers can be improved”.
    2006 – “there is still some friction”
    2008 – “starting to win over some of the disgruntled, although some are still hard to deal with”
    2009 – “needs to make a stronger effort in dealing with some of the managers … by showing respect for and inclusion of others”

    So, this doesn’t look like a last minute thing to me.

    Cheers

  9. 9
    Joe says:

    Claudius-

    Nothing in any of that goes to his skill-set. Also without any reasoning it is all meaningless. Ya see as far as you or anyone else knows Coppedge pissed people off because he would not give them what they did not have priviliges for. I have had similar issues and when push came to shove my manager saw through the (internal) customers’ nonsense.

    That said I would have to know more about this alleged “interface” problem.

  10. 10
    CLAVDIVS says:

    Hi Joe @ 9

    Nothing in any of that goes to his skill-set.

    Of course not, because I was responding to tjguy’s claim that Mr Coppedge had great job reviews.

    He didn’t.

    And previously we saw how he admitted his inferior skill set in court.

    So, even if you’re right that Mr Coppedge’s work reputation was due to his strict enforcement of IT policy, there were still ample grounds for JPL to include him in a general layoff.

    Cheers

  11. 11
    Joe says:

    Claudius-

    Subjective nonsense should never be part of a review. I never read any specifics and that tells me it was nonsense.

    But yes, if his skill set did not meet the requirements then he does not have a case and he should have never even started this.

  12. 12
    CLAVDIVS says:

    Thanks Joe – Agreed.

  13. 13
    tjguy says:

    @ 8 CLAVDIVS

    First of all, no one gets perfect reviews. There is always room for improvement so sure you can pick out this or that in the reviews over the past years, but the overall conclusion of the reviews was very positive. You picked out 4 short criticisms out of 6 years worth of reviews. Not bad. Plus you ignored all the good things that were said about him in those reviews. For instance, perhaps this article will give the other side of the story: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....57781.html

    Notice the timing of the criticism. JPL’s defense involved evolving explanations according to West and finally ended up settling on the employee’s competency. The fact that criticism of his skills as being lower than all other team leaders came out only in a post-trial brief speaks volumes here as to their real motive in my opinion.

    Like I said in the first post, this would certainly have been the most prominent and obvious method/strategy/argument argument of their defense IF it was really genuine. Again, I find it hard to believe that this team of lawyers overlooked such an approach.

  14. 14
    CLAVDIVS says:

    Hi tjguy @ 13

    First of all, no one gets perfect reviews. There is always room for improvement so sure you can pick out this or that in the reviews over the past years, but the overall conclusion of the reviews was very positive.

    So the reviews were not unequivocally “great” as you previously claimed, which is all I was pointing out. Plus, Mr Coppedge was verbally advised as early as 2004 – and this was confirmed by his own handwritten notes – that “every office had complaints”, “even my own team members were complaining”, and “people think you’re hard to deal with”.

    The point is, Mr Coppedge’s history of customer relations was inferior relative to the other people in his team being considered for layoff, and JPL demonstrated this with contemporaneous documentation.

    Notice the timing of the criticism. JPL’s defense involved evolving explanations according to West and finally ended up settling on the employee’s competency. The fact that criticism of his skills as being lower than all other team leaders came out only in a post-trial brief speaks volumes here as to their real motive in my opinion.

    This is incorrect. The determination that Mr Coppedge’s skills were relatively inferior came out around October 2010, when the mission’s funding was reduced and 50 jobs had to be shed. This was all documented at the time and Mr Coppedge agreed that this determination was accurate in his sworn testimony at trial.

    So it appears JPL had plenty of legitimate reasons to include Mr Coppedge in a general layoff.

    Cheers

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