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Ward Churchill seemingly out, inept legalities might save him

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, July 08, 2009.


Well. That was unexpected.

Yesterday, Judge Larry Naves here in Denver decked Ward Churchill and his hope for reinstatement at CU, along with a clearly desired financial compensation. Not satisfied with the legal humiliation, Naves abused the body, laughed in its face, and essentially exposed the corpse to the elements, the fauna of which is composed almost entirely of circling rodents and raptors and the lesser world’s carnivores that make the opening of True Blood so nauseating.

It was unexpected in that CU’s legal teams of late and across the board have been inept and unsuccessful in ways that resulted in much jaw damage and floor maintenance to observers, especially legal ones. It was unexpected in that the Judge seemed to just take CU’s case and sign it. He even, as the invaluable racetothebottom.com site points out, negated the trial that preceded it: he vacated the jury’s verdict by fixing the legal status of the Board of Regents as one that cannot be sued in the first place.

Judge Naves focused on the fact that Churchill had only been awarded $1 for damages. Confined as he claimed he was by the sentiment behind that sum, he said obviously the jury felt Churchill had received no damages, and his verdict followed that. Naves also entered the recondite issue of what, exactly, legal category the Regents inhabit. It is, he feels, a quasi-judicial one which grants immunity from being sued in the first place. A leeeetle after the fact. And that rumbling you hear is the Law of Unintended Consequences Arising.

Kevin O’Brien, writing a commentary for RTTB, says: Based upon existing case law, it is questionable that the jury’s $1 award bound Judge Naves on the reinstatement decision and is probably legally irrelevant. Factually, this is especially true in light of published jury comments after the trial that five of the jury members sought significant damages while one member held out for no damages since Churchill had testified that he was not seeking money—just his job.

The Chickenhawk shills for the CU regent majority of the time are ecstatic, and one Denver Post columnist contends that this verdict totally justifies everything CU’s administration has done of late, which would include all the incompetence, the political grandstanding, the stupidities of everyone from Governor Bill Owens on down, several of whom have offered apologies for their initial statements, now a revisionist embarrassment. And the current crop of CU regents and administrators are screaming ‘case closed and we won.’

Correctly put, ‘case in penultimate status and everyone – absolutely everyone – lost.’ Ward Churchill will appeal, and although difficult, legal cracks in the decision are already widening. Churchill was exposed as the dishonest bully boy he is: neither an Indian, nor someone who does his own research, nor to be mistaken for an actual historian, who’d publish discovered data no matter what it supported. The verdict yesterday also showed what a weak reed he is. Always there in triumph, waving and posturing and emoting for the ages, he shrank like the thug he is in defeat, leaving his attorney – who only gets paid if Churchill wins – to face the press and a bad year or two on the ledger.

And CU, which has been the target of conservatives for decades, cannot pat this baby into shape, starting with the existence of Departments like Ethnic Studies.

Not least among those who owe us an explanation is the local media. Despite the fact that they often tripped over the truth in the last decades, none of them pursued what would be a local scandal. They never do, but the fact is the social connections between the local media and the left wing of CU society at faculty level was strong. Strong enough they actually did recluse themselves from pursuing their duty for years. As soon as right wing hypocrisy in media arose, so did the quarts of printers’ ink devoted to the subject at the Colorado Daily and Daily Camera. But the initial MSM failings were on the opposite foot.

About the best that can be said is that Churchill may soon be gone, albeit there is that appeal. The worst that can be said is the guilty parties on both sides will get to walk away, pandering to their base.