Denver Post Reveals Jurors Critical of Churchill Treatment in Academic Freedom Trial

 I feel it is injudicious to separate both the results of an investigation and the motivation for its formation. In Mr Churchill’s case, he was clearly the object of ideological rage and animus stemming from his essay on the 9/11 attacks. While academic misconduct cannot be excused or tolerated which appears to have occurred in some of Mr Churchill’s scholarship, I believe dismissal was excessive. His most egregious offense was to write essays under an assumed name and use those sources as confirmation of some of his work. I think such actions cannot be defended but I also believe an investigation of his scholarship that is motivated by passion and anger is guilty of possible overreaction.

As I have written elsewhere, when state governors involve themselves in personnel matters as was frequent and undeniable in this case, a university is subjected to unwarranted POLITICAL presssure to “fix the problem.” Firing a tenured professor should not be conducted under these circumstances and anticipate there would be no public concern about bias and efforts at ideological cleansing.

Former University of Colorado ethnic-studies professor Ward Churchill points to a page in another author’s text during testimony Monday, March 23, 2009, in his civil suit for restoration of his tenured position. (Mark Leffingwell, Daily Camera )

Witness: Churchill was not apologetic

Updated: 03/26/2009 05:02:19 PM MDT
Jurors again posed challenging questions to a witness who wastestifying on behalf of the University of Colorado this morning in the Ward Churchill trial, which continued in Denver District Court until the snowstorm shut the courthouse.

Professor Joe Rosse, who led CU’s Standing Committee on Research Misconduct, has testified that the panel was convinced Churchill had plagiarized, falsified and fabricated some of his scholarly writings and had engaged in academic misconduct.

He also testified that he was concerned that Churchill was not apologetic and failed to recognize standards of good scholarship.

Churchill, a 61-year-old former ethnic studies professor at CU-Boulder, sued the university after he was fired in 2007. He believes he was let go because of the political controversy that exploded following an essay he wrote about the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Over the last two days, jurors have asked questions that appear to challenge CU’s case.

In Colorado, judges may allow jurors in civil cases to submit questions for witnesses. The questions are submitted to Denver Chief District Judge Larry Naves before they are read by him to the witness.

This morning, jurors asked Rosse about the panel’s decision to have a full professor serve on the investigative committee rather than an associate professor who specialized in the specific field of American Indian studies.

“It was not either or. We wanted a person that was both a full professor and with expertise,” Rosse said.

“Did you ever consider anyone else to be chair of the investigative committee after Ward Churchill shared his concern about Mimi Wesson having a bias against him?” a juror asked.

Rosse said he could not remember.

Wesson, a CU law professor chaired the investigative committee and has been accused by Churchill of having a bias against him before she headed the panel.

Wesson denied the allegation when she testified earlier in the trial.

Today’s snowstorm stopped the trial this afternoon and also could cause scheduled testimony to be postponed into next week if the weather remains unsafe Friday.

Judge Naves issued an order about noon to close the courthouse.

Felisa Cardona:

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