Ward Churchill Wins Wrongful Termination Suit: $1.00 Damages

Jury finds Ward Churchill was only fired for his 9/11 essay. Damages: $1.00. CU will have to pay Churchill's attorney's fees. Still to be determined at separate hearing (not by the jury): Whether Churchill gets his job back or whether he gets lump-sum settlement instead.

Churchill attorney David Lane didn't ask the jury for money, but "to do justice." He says this is a vindication for the First Amendment and academic freedom and was never about money. But, as I said earlier, he will get attorney fees.

Great tweeting of the verdict (More twitter coverage here.) The local television coverage was dismal.[More....]


The jury verdict in the Ward Churchill wrongful termination case is in and about to be read. Since the jury had a question earlier on damages, I'm assuming they found in his favor.

Apparently, one juror wanted to give him zero and was told he had to get at least $1.00. But that juror may have been a holdout:

In addition the jury also asked the judge whether, in light of the fact that apparently five of the six jurors have already decided on a dollar amount, could the jury conceivably ask for the lone holdout to be replaced with an alternate juror? Judge Naves again said no.

They are in the courtroom, reading the verdict.

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    I dunno (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by Steve M on Thu Apr 02, 2009 at 09:49:19 PM EST
    I've seen the evidence of plagiarism, it's pretty serious academic fraud in my book.  This verdict doesn't do much to change my mind.

    I ofer no opinion (none / 0) (#21)
    by jbindc on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 11:34:10 AM EST
    And it is Wikipedia, so take it with a grain of salt, but here is the background on the plagiarism and other charges against him.



    Nobody ever gets on Dershowitz (none / 0) (#22)
    by jondee on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 01:36:26 PM EST
    for plagiarism even though, in his case, there's stronger evidence for it.

    See: The Case for Israel controversy.


    You may have a point (none / 0) (#23)
    by jbindc on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 01:47:24 PM EST
    But as far I as know, he wasn't fired for his plagiarism and then claimed it was because it was of what he said.

    That was fast! (none / 0) (#1)
    by scribe on Thu Apr 02, 2009 at 05:06:25 PM EST
    How long were they out - long enough to get lunch?

    they went out around noon yesterday (none / 0) (#2)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Apr 02, 2009 at 05:07:51 PM EST
    So, about a day or a little more, then? (none / 0) (#4)
    by scribe on Thu Apr 02, 2009 at 05:14:48 PM EST
    That seems a reasonable amount of time, particularly since the NYT seems to state there was some dispute about the quantum (Asking if they could award no damages, one juror who won't agree, etc.)

    Here's what the NYT says: (none / 0) (#3)
    by scribe on Thu Apr 02, 2009 at 05:09:09 PM EST
    in its coverage here:

    Around 3 p.m. local time on Thursday, jurors asked the judge a couple of questions about the awarding of damages. This would suggest that they had perhaps resolved the question of whether Mr. Churchill's wrongful termination suit had merit.

    First, they asked whether it was possible to award no damages. A few minutes later, they asked whether, if all but one jury member could agree on a dollar amount, that person could be replaced by another juror. (The answer was no.)

    The jury then resumed deliberations.

    I like the headline on the TV report TL linked to (none / 0) (#5)
    by scribe on Thu Apr 02, 2009 at 05:16:58 PM EST
    "Indicators favor...."

    Talk about reading tea leaves....


    question (none / 0) (#6)
    by Bemused on Thu Apr 02, 2009 at 05:41:53 PM EST
      is it the law in colorado that the court and not the jury determines certain species of damages or did the parties agree to that?

      Reinstatement is in the nature of equitable relief but back pay or future damages are legal relief, and usually determined by the jury along with any other damages,

    never mind (none / 0) (#7)
    by Bemused on Thu Apr 02, 2009 at 05:45:22 PM EST
      I see you have edited and clarified.

    The local TV coverage... (none / 0) (#9)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Thu Apr 02, 2009 at 07:32:29 PM EST
    ...may be dismal, but you can practically hear the wingnuts blood pressure spiking in the comments at the Post.  The Cutler trade is more newsworthy in this town, so I'm not surprised the talking heads aren't giving the verdict much attention.  

    Another loss for Owens, Caldara, Vincent and the rest of the Party of No.  Hopefully a lesson learned for CU.

    Whenever anyone says it's not about money, (none / 0) (#10)
    by ytterby on Thu Apr 02, 2009 at 08:27:35 PM EST
    it's about money. The lawyer got paid.

    silly comment n/t (none / 0) (#12)
    by NYShooter on Thu Apr 02, 2009 at 08:35:04 PM EST
    I'm sure (none / 0) (#19)
    by Bemused on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 06:41:34 AM EST
      his lawyers are glad attorney fees were awarded. Who wouldn't be? That doesn't mean the case was about the money from either of the party's perspective.

      The jury verdict can be construed as implying "a pox on both your houses," but that they found the decision to fire Chuchill was based on his expressing his views and not on the academic fraud and plagiarism charges is significant. It doesn't necessarily mean the jury does not think he committed fraud; it means it didn't believe that was the cause for his firing.


    plagierists and tenure (none / 0) (#11)
    by diogenes on Thu Apr 02, 2009 at 08:33:01 PM EST
    Time to get rid of that whole rotten tenure system.  Who, outside of tenured professors/teachers, is presumptively entitled to employment for life?

    Silly (none / 0) (#18)
    by eric on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 01:24:39 AM EST
    Professors are in a unique position.  The case for tenure is an old issue, and if you want to fight that one, you might as well question the abandonment of the gold standard or start investigating the communists in congress.

    unique? (none / 0) (#24)
    by diogenes on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 09:47:04 PM EST
    Many professors research/teach hard until they get tenure.  Research quality often declines then, and many professors become teaching dead weight.  

    A classic case (none / 0) (#17)
    by eric on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 01:19:19 AM EST
    of principle.  In my experience, people will often say that they want to pursue/defend a claim out of "principle" and that it isn't about the money.  Mr. Churchill won his "principle" case.

    so it protects conservatives? (none / 0) (#25)
    by diogenes on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 09:50:16 PM EST
    The people who hold minority views in universities these days are usually conservatives who usually don't get tenure track positions except for the "token conservative".
    If a college fires a nobel winner for his views presumably a hundred other colleges will take him.  I doubt if Ward Churchill could get another job at another college given his dubious, plagierizing merits, which proves a point.

    I agree that tenure is (none / 0) (#26)
    by NYShooter on Fri Apr 03, 2009 at 09:55:58 PM EST
    necessary in cases where one's exercising his/her first amendment rights could jeopardize one's job. However, I don't think 1'st amendment rights are the focal point of most critics of tenure. Tenure has grown into a giant umbrella, or "free pass card" for actions that the overwhelming majority of non-teacher employees don't enjoy. Why, for instance, are laziness, incompetence, disinterest, and malfeasance protected by "Tenure?"

    And to claim that there are "procedures" in place to address those things only adds salt to the wound.