Not a coincidence

March 11, 2009

Opening arguments took place today, along with a couple of witnesses. There’s plenty to read about, but my favorite exchange came in the following between David Lane, Churchill’s attorney, and then-Chancellor Phil DiStefano. From the Daily Camera.

Lane also asked DiStefano why an intercepted email from Mimi Wesson, a CU law professor who headed up the investigative committee looking into Churchill’s scholarship, to other faculty comparing Churchill unfavorably to what he described as a double-murderer, child molester, and lying cheater was never disclosed to Churchill.

“Would you want to be judged by somebody who compares you to O.J. Simpson, Michael Jackson, and Bill Clinton?” Lane asked the provost.

Lane also asked DiStefano why one of the main allegations of misconduct against Churchill — several of which came from what Lane described as the professor’s rivals — had already been brought to the school’s attention a decade earlier and disregarded.

He took issue specifically with an allegation dean of the CU Law School, David Getches, received from a professor in New Mexico in 1996 that once again gained life in 2005, after Churchill’s 9/11 essay exploded into the public consciousness.

“In fact nobody took it seriously in 1996 and Dean Getches didn’t take it seriously,” Lane said.

DiStefano said the professor from New Mexico had contacted Getches about it again in 2005 and CU looked into it this time and found it to be credible.

. . .

Lane then put on display for the jury a copy of an email that dean of the CU Law School, David Getches, had written to DiStefano on Jan. 28, 2005 — just days after the controversy over the essay erupted — saying that Churchill’s remarks were not “befitting of someone in a postion of leadership at CU.”

Getches, DiStefano and another CU dean joined together to look into whether Churchill had gone over the line of protected speech with his 9/11 essay.

Lane had DiStefano focus on a particular line in Getches’ email, in which the law school dean said Churchill’s essay casts “serious doubt on his competetence and integrity as a scholar.”

He asked the provost whether the email didn’t betray the school’s intentions — before allegations of academic misconduct by Churchill had even been introduced — to tag Churchill as academically incompetent and get rid of the controversial professor.

Lane also asked why Mimi Wesson, a CU law professor who had long worked with Getches, was appointed to head up the investigative committee that would ultimately recommend firing Churchill.

“Do you think that’s just a coincidence?” Lane asked the provost.

DiStefano said no it wasn’t.

Let’s see, how long do you think a prospective juror for this trial would have lasted if s/he were to compare Phil DiStefano to a murderer, child molester, and adulterer?

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2 Responses to “Not a coincidence”

  1. piet Says:

    thank you for your work Ben, … forgive me, just broke down past the burning eye stage, one drop actually fell out. Hearing

    angels are singing in heaven tonight
    James King

    for the first time was bound to that i guess. Speciall alongside the dailycamera threads and footage.


  2. […] to last until March 27. The first blog, The Ward Churchill Trial, has a post up for today (”Not a Coincidence” March 11) detailing some of the exchanges between Chirchill’s attorney and Phil […]


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