[Ppnews] Followup - Churchill wins CU suit but awarded just $1

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Apr 3 10:34:16 EDT 2009

Churchill wins CU suit but awarded just $1

<mailto:fcardona at denverpost.com?subject=The%20Denver%20Post:%20Churchill%20wins%20CU%20suit%20but%20awarded%20just%20$1>By 
Felisa Cardona
<mailto:fcardona at denverpost.com?subject=The%20Denver%20Post:%20Churchill%20wins%20CU%20suit%20but%20awarded%20just%20$1>The 
Denver Post
Posted: 04/02/2009 11:24:46 AM MDT


Ward Churchill won his case against the 
University of Colorado today as a Denver jury 
unanimously decided he was fired in retaliation 
for his controversial essay about the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The jury gave Churchill $1 for past losses, 
finding he was fired over protected free speech.

Denver Chief District Judge Larry Naves will 
decide in a separate hearing whether the former 
Boulder professor can return to his job or 
receive pay for years he could have worked at CU.

Churchill hugged his legal team after the verdict was read.

CU attorney Patrick O'Rourke shook hands with 
Churchill and his attorneys before leaving the 
courtroom without making a statement.

Churchill briefly spoke outside the courtroom and 
said, "it took four years. It took a while. And it was quick, it was justice."

CU "has been exposed for what it is," Churchill said.

"It was found by a jury that I was wrongly 
fired," he said. "They not only violated my 
rights, but my student's rights and the community's rights."

Churchill said he was satisfied with a $1 
judgment and said his case was not about money.

"Reinstatement, of course," he said. "I did not 
ask for money. I asked for justice."

Churchill thanked his family and his supporters 
and his lawyers. He also blasted his detractors 
including Dan Caplis and Craig Silverman and 
former Rocky Mountain News Editorial Page Editor, 
now Denver Post columnist Vincent Carroll, who 
Churchill said, "tried to shape public consciousness in a false fashion."

Churchill excused himself from the crush of news 
cameras and said he wanted to "get some silence and repose."

Earlier this afternoon, Naves summoned the 
attorneys from both sides back to court because the jurors had a question.

The jurors asked: "Judge, we are feeling 
uncomfortable about the damages portion. Would 
you be able to meet with us to talk about what is 
required and other things regarding money? And is $0 an option?"

Naves replied: "I cannot meet with you. Please 
re-read the instructions concerning damages. If 
you find for the plaintiff but find no damages, 
(you will have to) find in the sum of $1."

The jurors then had another question: "If all but 
one jury member can agree on a dollar amount for 
Question 4, can that person be replaced by another juror?"

Naves told them that wasn't possible,

Question No. 4 on the jury form deals with 
compensating Churchill. It reads: "Please 
describe the dollar amount of compensation, in 
each category, that you will provide to plaintiff 
Churchill for prevailing on his claim for 
retaliation based on defendant University's 
decision to terminate his employment. In making 
such awards, you should deduct any sums that were 
proven by a preponderance of the evidence to have 
occurred because of plaintiff Churchill's failure to mitigate his damages.

Past noneconomic damages $__________ .

Past economic loss $ _____________ ."

The four women and two men listened to the case 
for four weeks and heard 45 witnesses testify in 
the courtroom. Two male alternates were sent home 
after closing arguments Tuesday.

A day after the Sept. 11 attacks, Churchill wrote 
his essay "Some People Push Back: On the Justice 
of Roosting Chickens" to criticize America's 
economic and foreign policies. In the essay, he 
compared some of the victims in the World Trade 
Center attack to "little Eichmanns" after Nazi 
Adolf Eichmann, who engineered the destruction of the Jews in World War II.

CU launched an investigation to determine whether 
that essay was protected speech. Eventually, 
allegations surfaced that Churchill had committed 
plagiarism or academic misconduct in other 
writings, and another series of investigations 
was launched. A review of his work led to a vote 
by CU regents in 2007 that the tenured professor be fired.

CU counsel Patrick O'Rourke argued that the 
university fired Churchill solely because three 
committees investigated the professor over a 
two-year period and found he had engaged in 
fabrication, falsification and plagiarism in some 
of his writings on American Indians. O'Rourke 
told the jury that Churchill's termination had 
nothing to do with the Sept. 11 essay.

"The University of Colorado must diligently 
prevent misconduct," O'Rourke said during his 
closing argument. "That applies to every student 
and every faculty member to everybody who does 
anything in the university's name.

"You cannot plagiarize, you cannot falsify, you cannot fabricate."

Churchill's attorney, David Lane, told the jury 
there is no way his client would have lost his 
job from CU had it not been for the "howling mob" 
at the university gates who wanted him gone 
because of the Sept. 11 essay ­ including three 
regents who voted for his termination and the former governor.

"The regents, the lying liars ­ and almost all of 
them got on the stand ­ you heard them lie about 
what was on the table," Lane said in his closing 
arguments. "So they go through this charade of fairness."

O'Rourke tried to erase Lane's witch-hunt 
argument and told jurors that CU gave Churchill 
adequate due process, especially by the Privilege 
and Tenure Committee, which was made up of fellow faculty.

But Lane told jurors that they needed to find in 
favor of Churchill if they believed the Sept. 11 
essay he wrote was the motivating factor for his 2007 termination.

Felisa Cardona: 303-954-1219 or 
<mailto:fcardona at denverpost.com>fcardona at denverpost.com

Freedom Archives
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San Francisco, CA 94110

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