[2005/01/13] Incompetent Defense by Cobb County Attorney May Have Caused School District Loss
Incompetent Defense by Cobb County Attorney May Have Caused School District Loss 01/13/2005
The decision by a federal judge in Georgia to overturn a textbook sticker about evolution may have been aided by the school district's own lawyer, according to the Center for Science and Culture at Discovery Institute.
Seth Cooper, an attorney and legal analyst with Discovery Institute, faulted school district lead counsel Linwood Gunn for putting on "an incompetent defense."
Cooper points to the judge's written ruling which highlights just how lackluster Gunn's efforts to defend the school district were. In footnote 4, the judge writes that he originally ruled that textbook author and biologist Kenneth Miller could not testify at trial as an expert witness, only as a fact witness. Yet when Miller actually testified, the ACLU essentially used Miller as an expert witness. Because the school district attorney did not object, the judge wrote in his opinion that he would accept Miller's unrebutted scientific testimony despite his earlier ruling. The school district attorney also failed to object to the last-minute inclusion of another expert witness by the ACLU, so the judge also treated the testimony of that witness as admissible.
The courtroom performance of Gunn has previously been the subject of criticism among district parents and others. During the trial Discovery Institute issued a statement noting that Gunn decided not to have any scientists serve as rebuttal witnesses, despite the fact that dozens of Georgia scientists had submitted a friend of the court brief defending the district.
At that time, Cooper called Gunn's decision a "legal blunder of the first order."
"A vigorous defense of the sticker's constitutionality would have focused upon the growing number of scientists who have raised scientific criticisms of aspects of neo-Darwinian and chemical evolutionary theories," Cooper said today.
"Parents in Cobb County who supported the textbook sticker should be wondering why their school board attorney put on such a lousy defense," Cooper added. "If the school district plans to appeal the ruling, it should think hard about how to ensure more effective legal representation."