Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Ward Churchill Files a Motion Asking Judge Naves to Amend His July 7 Ruling

On Tuesday, July 21, 2009, the discredited ex-professor Ward Churchill submitted a rudely-worded motion [Hat tip Pirate Ballerina] with the court asking Judge Naves to reconsider his July 7, 2009 ruling. Churchill wants his tenured teaching position at Boulder's University of Colorado restored, and he also wants Judge Naves to "reverse his finding that the CU regents were entitled to the same immunity that applies to judges because they were acting in a quasi-judicial capacity when they fired Churchill."

Although Ward Churchill often claims expertise in Constitutional Law, after the trial Judge Naves ruled that the Colorado Constitution specifically establishes the regents; and case law gives them authority similar to judges for the action they took in his academic misconduct case. I probably am not describing the legal aspects very well, so read Judge Nave's ruling here or here.

According to Judge Naves, Judges and people acting in a similar capacity have quasi-judicial immunity, which seems to mean that judges, or people such as the CU regents acting in the capacity of judges, can't be sued. The remedy for a bad judgement is an appeal. Since CU would have to pay for any financial claims Churchill made against the regents, the University is entitled to judicial immunity. [Read Judge Nave's ruling, because I may not be explaining it accurately.]

Judge Naves says in paragraph 50 that Churchill doesn't understand the law:

Professor Churchill argues that the University is not entitled to quasi-judicial immunity because the University waived its Eleventh Amendment immunity, but Professor Churchill’s response mistakenly assumes that Eleventh Amendment immunity is the same thing as quasi-judicial immunity. They are separate immunities.

Oops! I think this means that somebody really messed up!

The Denver Post (7-21-09/updated 7-22-09) reports:

The lawyer for a University of Colorado professor fired after likening some victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to a Nazi mastermind is asking a judge to reconsider a decision refusing to reinstate his client.

Ward Churchill's lawyer, David Lane, filed a motion Tuesday asking Denver District Judge Larry Naves to amend his ruling and reinstate Churchill to his former position as a tenured professor at CU's Boulder campus.

Naves ruled July 7 against Churchill's bid to return to his job as an ethnic studies professor. He said the decision by the university's governing Board of Regents to fire Churchill in 2007 for plagiarism "occurred with sufficient procedural protections."

Naves also noted that jurors who found in April that Churchill was wrongly fired awarded him only $1 in damages. He said the low figure meant that the jury concluded Churchill did not incur any damages.


Naves said in his decision against reinstatement that Churchill had shown hostility to the university in his comments after the jury verdict by calling Colorado University a "not very glorified vo-tech, a trade school." He said the university was right to fear that it would be hard to recruit and retain teachers if Churchill were reinstated and that his return would create a perception that the school tolerated research misconduct.


Churchill's attorney also asked the judge to reverse his finding that the CU regents were entitled to the same immunity that applies to judges because they were acting in a quasi-judicial capacity when they fired Churchill. [Full text]


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