July 25, 2007

Churchill: Lawsuit Edition

**Update--It's official, Drunkablog has the details, as well as a good post-mortem roundup

More blathering from Churchill's legal flack David Lane:
Hours before Churchill was fired Tuesday, Lane announced he planned to file a civil lawsuit in a Denver District Court rather than in a federal court because federal courts are "inundated with cases."

Lane said he predicted it would take about a year to get a trial.

He also said a jury pool in a Denver District Court would be more representative of the overall population.

"The minority population of Denver is much more greater than it is in the northern tier or Colorado generally," Lane said yesterday. "But I’m not reading into that anything in particular. That is the demographic fact of life."

The 2006 suit claimed the university failed to pay $20,000 owed for Churchill’s attorney fees, Lane said.

Lane said the suite was filed in Denver because the university’s headquarters are in that jurisdiction.
If you are not reading into anything, Mr. Lane, why bring it up?

Will work for fraud food. Courtesy of El Marco, who has more photos of Churchill et al.

Lawsuitpalooza? Ward Part Deux?

Neither CU President Hank Brown or Board Chair Patricia Hayes felt intimidated by potential legal action:
Both also said they were not swayed by the threat of legal action.

"I don't think a great university can be intimidated by legal action," said Brown.

"We (the regents) did not discuss any possibility of a lawsuit," said Hayes.

"This was an issue of what's best for the university and we had to step up to the plate and do what's best for the university," said Hayes.

Hayes also said they do not believe the decision will have a chilling effect on other professors.

"True academics will say this is a place they want to be," said Hayes.

"The message this sends is that the university faces up to problems and deals with them and that we are a reliable institution," said Brown.
And as much as yesterday's sacking of Ward Churchill brought closure--it also represented just the prelude to Churchill's guaranteed next step:
The next chapter is set to begin Wednesday, when the controversial academic and his civil rights attorney, David Lane, sue the university in Denver District Court.

Churchill warned that his dismissal is the beginning of a wider attack on scholars with unpopular political views.

"If you think I’m the endgame, you’re wrong," Churchill told supporters. "This is the kickoff.
. . .
Churchill, 59, said he would remain visible at CU while waging his court fight.

"I am going nowhere," he said. "It’s not about breaking. It’s not about bending. It’s not about compromising. When you negotiate your rights, you haven’t got any."
Let me rewrite that for you, Ward, to reflect CU's position--"It's not about breaking. It's not about bending. It's not about compromising. When you negotiate your standards, you haven't got any." There. Much better.

Now for the lawsuit specifics:
Lane said he will amend an existing lawsuit against the university today in Denver District Court. Already, he has sued asking that CU pay his legal fees. He said he will ask a jury for an unspecified amount of money and that Churchill be reinstated.
CU Regent Cindy Carlisle, the lone dissenting vote, offered a simple explanation for her decision:
Regent Cindy Carlisle, who cast the dissenting vote, said she thought firing was too tough a penalty. She agreed with the Privilege and Tenure Committee’s 3-2 vote in May to suspend Churchill for a year without pay.
There were some clear winners in today's decision--the authors misrepresented by Churchill:
R.G. Robertson, author of Rotting Face: Smallpox and the American Indian, said he was glad that Churchill’s supporters did not sway the regents.

"I’m glad that scholarship, or the ideal of scholarship, won out over somebody’s weird view of political correctness," he said. "I’m happy that it happened, that he’s been found out, and, by his peers — meaning other university people — and been called what he is, a plagiarizer and a liar."

Robertson’s book was among those cited by investigators as having been mischaracterized by Churchill.

"Facts are facts and truth is truth, and when you’re dealing with history I think it doesn’t need to be distorted by people with a warped political objective," Robertson said.

Another author whose work was mischaracterized by Churchill said the firing was appropriate punishment.

"It’s important to know Indian history, and it’s important to know factual Indian history, not just a bunch of B.S. that someone made up," said Russell Thornton, a professor at the University of California at Los Angeles.

Churchill attributed assertions that the Army deliberately spread smallpox among Indians to one of Thornton’s books, American Indian Holocaust and Survival: A Population History Since 1492.
Ward and Co. vow to fight on:
Moments after the University of Colorado Regents voted to fire Ward Churchill, one of his supporters at the back of the Glenn Miller Ballroom shouted out, "Now it’s your turn!"

"You’re right," Churchill replied just before joining in with several American Indians from South Dakota as they started drumming and chanting the freedom song from the American Indian Movement.

Several of Churchill’s supporters decried the regents’ statements that they were dismissing him for a pattern of academic misconduct.

"I want to be clear," said Tom Mayer, a CU-Boulder sociology professor. "This is a political firing with academic camouflage.
"I believe the people who voted (to dismiss Churchill) are the same people who would have voted against Socrates, Galileo ... and anyone else with an unpopular point of view."
Lane doesn't think that a federal jury will give his client a fair shake (Lane and Churchill discriminate?):
Lane said he will sue in Denver District Court, rather than federal court, because he can get a trial sooner.

But he also said a Denver jury is more likely to be sympathetic than a federal jury, which would include "a lot of small-town people who are not enamored of Churchill."
Of course, all those right-wing, racist bastards in rural Colorado who don't accept Churchill's academic fraud. Shame on them! Let's go get a pro-Churchill jury down in the city!

A possible settlement?
Lukianoff said he expects that the First Amendment case could survive summary judgment and conclude with the university entering a settlement with Churchill.

"I think that overall, it's going to be an interesting, but difficult, lawsuit," he said.
The "media horde" pounded this story, with its First Amendment implications and the question of academic misconduct. While the majority of the MSM provided obligatory coverage due to the furor erupting at the beginning of the whole affair (with the Rocky Mountain News' investigative pursuit as a distinct exception), talk radio and blogs ultimately kept the story alive and the pressure consistent.

Unscientific polls at 9NEWS and the Denver Post don't seem to be leaning Churchill's way:

Labels: , , , ,