Ah, here we go

This is some news I’ve been expecting for a long time.

A former computer specialist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory was not dismissed because he advocated his belief in intelligent design while at work, a Superior Court judge has tentatively ruled.

Judge Ernest Hiroshige said Thursday he is leaning in favor of JPL’s argument that David Coppedge instead was let go because he was combative and did not keep his skills sharp.

Hiroshige, who presided over the lawsuit’s trial in April, ordered a final ruling to that effect be drawn up and distributed within 30 days.

Coppedge, as you may recall, is the JPL sysadmin who hounded his co-workers with Discovery Institute DVD’s and then submitted a legal brief that sounded like the script for Dark Helmet playing with his dolls. The only surprising thing about this decision is that it took so long to reach it.


  1. Tracey says

    Years ago, on the television show Coach, the coach went to trial because a co-worker of his did something stupid, got hurt, and blamed it on the coach. The coach won by letting the co-worker speak for himself, summing up the co-worker’s pointless, rambling diatribe with one line: “This man is an idiot”.

    Very appropos for this case. “This man is an idiot.” Case closed.

  2. Tracey says

    P.S. At my workplace about 10 years ago, a co-worker was harassing his poor beleagured victims with non-stop fundie Christian proselytization. They asked him to stop (ha! never works with these fools), complained repeatedly to management, and finally took it up the chain…where it was ruled that it was perfectly fine for the fundie to spend all his work hours not working, but haranging his co-workers with religious drivel.

  3. Skip White says

    His brief said “Druish Princess are often attracted to money and power, and I have both, and you KNOW it!” ?

  4. thebookofdave says

    He was assigned to work on the Intelligent Design of the Cassini probe. Now that he has been fired from the project, he can prove it at last!

  5. lorn says

    In my experience getting rid of people likely to claim discrimination, particularly when their main transgressions center on their own feelings that their particular form of bigotry should be privileged, is always like defusing a bomb. If you get impatient and simply discharge them without having huge amounts of evidence to back up your case they come back with a legal case that is ugly, protracted, and expensive.

    Months spent collecting testimony and building what amounts to most of a legal case against the person goes a long way toward avoiding having to make that case in court. Only once a fairly compelling case has been assembled do you take actions to move the person out of the organization.

    Of course the person discharged is always going to threaten legal action but it is only the rare lawyer who will undertake a case once they see that the documentation is all against them,

    It is a major PITA to assemble a strong case for discharge. It would be nice if people could just recognize their own bias, feel shame, and quietly detach themselves but it is exactly that sort of self-assumed privilege and lack of self-awareness that makes the person more likely to be both a organizational problem and difficult to remove. Those two points are inseparable.

    The best way to avoid these sorts of personnel problems is to exclude those personality types early in the hiring process. Deselected with hundreds of other people in the first cut it is very difficult for them to claim discrimination and take legal action.

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