Jury Rules in Favor of Ward Churchill, While the Media Rules Against Him

In the case of Ward Churchill vs. CU Boulder, the jury ruled in favor of American Indian scholar and activist Ward Churchill on all accounts. CU Boulder administration, right wing pundits and much of the mainstream press is fuming as a result.

You'll find many articles regretably conceding that yes indeed the firing of Ward Churchill was fueled not by academic misconduct, but by his controversial essay On the Justice of Roosting Chickens. The jury agreed to all three points of the prosecution: that CU used Churchill's opinions and words to terminate him, that the termination harmed Churchill, and that had it not been for the essay he had written (as opposed to the allegations of academic misconduct) that Churchill would still be teaching at the University of Colorado.

Still, quickly looking at the headlines from major news outlets and the story continues to be smearing Churchill, rather than recognizing that a university joined forces with conservative politicians to lead a witchhunt against a teacher for their political beliefs.

In the Denver Post, the lead article is "$1 for Churchill," focusing not so much on the ruling itself, but on the lone dollar being awarded to Churchill. This misses the entire point of the court case, which was to seek justice and not monetary compensation. Andrew Cohen of CBS News offers an "analysis" which furthers the tired argument from the right claiming that yet again another lazy, incompetent professor is saved by tenure and the opaque technicalities of law. This analysis makes claim after claim of Churchill being a poor professor who has not contributed to the academic world. This despite Churchill boasting of a huge resume of writings and analysis repeatedly referenced in Ethnic Studies. It fails to mention that before his firing he was teaching to standing room only classes or received an award for his scholarly contributions the same year he was fired.

The story of the day should be about the victory of free speech over the attempts by CU administrators and politicians of firing someone based on their constitutionally-protected political beliefs. Luckily that was the result of the trial, whether the media wants to recognize it or not.

In case you haven't heard yet, Ward Churchill, and justice, prevailed in
a Denver courtroom this afternoon. The jury in the 31/2 week trial was
asked to decide three questions (which I'm paraphrasing): 1)Did CU
Regents use protected speech (Ward's 9/11 essay) as a substantial or
motivating factor in its decision to terminate Ward? The jury answered Yes.
2)Did the termination harm Ward? The jury answered Yes.
3)Have the defendants shown that Ward would have been dismissed for
other reasons? The jury answered No. In some ways this was the most
important question. By answering No, the jury said not only that Ward's
First Amendment protected speech led to his firing, but that the
"finding" of the CU committee that Ward engaged in academic misconduct
was bogus, and there was no justification for firing him. As Ward said
to the press shortly after the verdict, and as was obvious all along,
this was a political motivated firing, and the jury in their verdict
said as much.
The jury awarded one dollar. But as David Lane, Ward's primary attorney,
had said all along, this was never about money, it was about justice and
vindication for Ward, and that's what the jury gave him.
Whether Ward will get reinstated is now apparently up to Judge Naves.
Attorneys have 30 days to prepare motions and then he'll make a decision.

Ward Churchill

I don't like Ward Churchill. I don't like his hair. I don't like the way he looks. I don't like the way he thinks. But he has never tortured anyone. He never got us into a war under false pretenses. So I think we should worry about other people who have avoided true justice before we worry about Churchill.


There is a certain implausibility of bringing the Bush Administration to justice in a political system that is designed to escape accountability. The long-term cycle of injustice that prevails today didn't begin not will end now that the Bush Administration is over. There is also no such thing as a small injustice. And the only way you can defend your own liberty is to defend the other man's liberty. When we deem doing fighting injustice for any reason as unimportant, injustice overall will reign. When it comes to changing the climate of justice, every battle is important. Every battle impacts the past, present, and future climate. This is a victory.

This may be a "victory" for

This may be a "victory" for free speech, but academic standards have certainly suffered a blow. Churchill is a plagarist - these charges were not false, and whether or not they were driven by something else doesn't change the fact that Churchill, a tenured CU professor, basically made shit up in his academic work to prove a point.

Churchill is not a plagerist

You have clearly not read closely or looked into the charges. He made mistakes but nothing like what the media has prorated them as. You clearly do not understand the nuances of sitation and the fact that sitation differs from disipline to disapline.

You do have one point right in my mind and that is that academia is clearly suffering as it always does when it is politicized and when no academics are subjected to a press with an axe to grind or individuals like yourself who form opinions (however well intentioned) that are not based on an understanding of the facts.

Anti-Intellectualism in High Gear

This is because senile idiots like Regan and hydrocephalics like Geroge W. have made the public anti-intellectual. Ward Churchhill may have done some things incorrectly or in poor taste, but his employer did worse, and that's what this should be about, not whether or not the old man has hair that's too long or not. --Midnight Rider

Time for the 'full court'(sic) press

From Travus T. Hipp's Morning News & Commentary for April 07 2009:

Now that professor Ward Churchill’s wrongful termination for ‘academic misconduct’ trial in Colorado has been decided in the plaintiff’s behalf, and the full court press for Churchill’s reinstatement to the tenured ranks of education at Colorado University Boulder begins with a statement of purpose from the plaintiff:

‘If the judge declines to give Churchill his job back, he said he’ll ask for 10 years worth of lost “front pay” — at about $110,000 a year.’ (ed: That’s $1 million dollars plus, further, he’d much rather have the tenured professorship):

“If it would make a bunch of people uncomfortable on the Boulder campus, what’s the argument?” Churchill said. “They violated my rights, therefore to spare them discomfort I should not be restored to what I was unlawfully deprived of? That’s somewhat tenuous.”

For those at CU who can’t stand having him so close, Churchill has an offer:

“If it really makes you that uncomfortable, you’re free to leave,” he said.
[In Full @ the Boulder Daily Camera]

The bleating may still be heard from the anti-open education fringe (David Horowitz‘ colleagues) and other ‘right wing’ loons about Churchill’s unfitness-to-teach due to the initial decision of ‘research misconduct and/or plagiarism’, from the ‘packed’ academic misconduct committee.

Stanley Fish, literary theorist and legal scholar, weighs in on the report of the “committee of faculty peers” that found Ward Churchill guilty of academic misconduct, and his conclusion… “Ward Churchill is not guilty of academic misconduct”

“The verdict did not surprise me because I had read the committee’s report and found it less an indictment of Churchill than an example of a perfectly ordinary squabble about research methods and the handling of evidence. The accusations that fill its pages are the kind scholars regularly hurl at their polemical opponents. It’s part of the game. But in most cases, after you’ve trashed the guy’s work in a book or a review, you don’t get to fire him. Which is good, because if the standards for dismissal adopted by the Churchill committee were generally in force, hardly any of us professors would have jobs.”[In Full]

"Other" News (bound to upset right wing loonies):

Members of the Congressional Black Political Caucus, are meeting with the Castro brothers in Cuba.

From Granma (Cuba): Attending the meeting were Democratic federal representatives...

Also, A Red Cross report alleges Guantanamo doctors violated medical ethics.

...and Juan Cole on the supposed 'calm broken' in Iraq: "Despite the trope found in US news reporting, that “Black Monday” interrupted a long period of relative calm, in fact there has been a steady drumbeat of violence in Baghdad, Diyala and Ninevah provinces all along..."

In full with linkage @ Archive.org: wwwDOTarchiveDOTorgSLASHdetailsSLASHtth_090407

...or my site: wwwDOTleighmDOTnetSLASHwpSLASH2009SLASH04SLASH07SLASHtth_090407


Being a judge is not just a job. It includes more due process. I really don’t know who is Ward Churchill or CU Boulder. But one thing for sure, they’ve been working hard to prove their innocence. Sometimes many people don’t get proper justice because they don’t have enough money to pay good attorneys. But does it means we should give up? In times of recession many of us really wants raise in their salary. The truth is only Congress doesn't have to ask anyone for it. Typically, you will get a salary increase if you get a promotion or you might get incentives for a job well done. But if you want a bit more money in your pocket and don't want to have to worry about getting payday loans, you have to butter up your boss, and with the economy the way it is these days, it's no surprise that it's not that easy. Dress to impress, have the facts on your side, and make a good case. Debt relief can come from a raise. Raise is not bad if you truly deserve it. I just hope some company owners and government agencies realize this.

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nice blog..