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Ward Churchill wants his dollar back


DENVER– Remember the dollar bill awarded to Professor Churchill last year because the jury took him at his word that return of his tenure at the University of Colorado was the chief demand of his lawsuit for unlawful dismissal? Judge Larry [K]naves vacated the award and the verdict, which is why Churchill v CU is now being reprised for the Colorado Court of Appeals. As Lawyer David Lane outlined for the reporters, Churchill wants the reinstatement of an original secondary claim dismissed without a trial, he wants to resume teaching at CU Boulder, and precisely for its symbolism, Ward Churchill wants that dollar back. This post’s title is my guess at the Denver News headline.

Actually, mention of the solitary dollar was made in court, but from the other side. Believe it or not, CU argued against having to reinstate Ward Churchill because it adjudged the small award to be indicative of the 2009 jury’s intent. Instead of believing the jury’s statement, that they chose reinstatement in lieu of awarding damages, CU pretended that the trivial remuneration meant they couldn’t give a fig if the wronged professor got his job back either.

Oral arguments were heard today by the Colorado Court of Appeals, in a temporary venue located in the Denver Post building, which until recently was also home to the Rocky Mountain News. Was this a supreme irony, or like the usual M.O. in matters of Native American affairs, a direct insult? Ward Churchill had to plead for redress with authorities under the roof of the establishment most responsible for having slandered him.

How did it go? The room was packed, the judges did not appear to show their hand and promised a judgment would be forthcoming. Probably they say that to everybody.

David Lane gave his usual masterful performance, parrying cuts to the quick from the three judges as if his client’s claims were a foregone conclusion. Lane was ready with his trademark descriptive quips, Churchill’s persecution dubbed a “torchlight parade” where the CU trustees fell over each other to grab the microphone to denounce his September 11th Little Eichmanns quote, even as later they claim quasi-judicial immunity for terminating Churchill without prejudice.

Providing the perfect foil was CU’s counsel Patrick O’Rourke, the down syndrome-coiffed wunderbreadkind, who has me convinced there’s a niche for the incompetent lawyer shtick. How else to battle charismatic speakers like Lane, than play the everyman with a limp to elicit the jury’s sympathies. Lingering on my mind, as CU’s attack-defender lost his train of thought and asked a judge to repeat his question, was the news that O’Rourke is reportedly shortlisted for an appointment as judge, perhaps in recompense for his dispatch of Churchill v CU through the backdoor.

O’Rourke raised the inanity of having been presented with no evidence that the Boulder campus suffered a chilling effect as a result of Professor Churchill’s first amendment rights being violated. One judge ran with the theme, until Lane was able to politely corral the sophomoric philosophy quandary. I wished Lane could have gone for a laugh line: Clearly the CU faculty have become frightened to speak their minds, how else to explain the ongoing dearth of critics among them, in times of continuing and escalating barbarity by our history makers?

The turnout saw a good collection of Denver’s rising legal luminaries, Lane’s team from the original trial, the ACLU legal eagles, and members of the National Lawyers’ Guild. Also in attendance were notorious Denver activists and other Churchill supporters, including the owners of Boulder’s Left Hand Books. A notable absence for me was activist lawyer Lynne Stewart, who’d stopped by the original trial to show her solidarity for Ward Churchill and the besieged academics who served as his witnesses. At that time Stewart was appealing her sentence for aiding-and-abetting terrorists in her role as their defense counsel. This summer, Stewart received not a reprieve, but an even longer sentence, and consequently this month spent her 71st birthday behind bars.

As he did in the original trial, David Lane opened with the suggestion that this case was likely to have a legacy more broad than the presiding judges may all imagine. So far, whether the jurists for the establishment concur or not, I’d say he has been proven correct.

One thought on “Ward Churchill wants his dollar back

  1. Yeah, they wouldn’t let me be their Token Gimp, because I say a lot of things they would be paying other people to suppress. Same way they fired Professor Churchill when it became obvious he wasn’t going to be their Token Indian.

    They were gunning for Dr. Churchill ever since he taught the Truth about the U.S., Britain and their proxies in Canada having deliberately used smallpox as a biological weapon against the American Indian tribes. Fortunately for them they have other Token Minorities representing their lies as though they were truth.

    One of the local Historical Purity Extremists suggested that Dr. Churchill be put to death for teaching Indian history from an Indian point of view.

    (he) should only be allowed to teach History to fellow Death Row inmates

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