“The research he did into DNA, proteins and how a cell functions shows you not only can't get a cell by chance, you can't get a single functional protein by chance.”
Representing JPL, attorney James Zapp said during his opening remarks Tuesday that Coppedge was his own worst enemy while at JPL.
More than 15 coworkers complained to JPL supervisors about Coppedge, Zapp said. They were concerned about his alleged inability to work effectively with others, Zapp said, not his views on the origins of the universe or Proposition 8, California's initiative banning gay marriage.
“[They] said, ‘We have no problem with people discussing religion or politics in the office, as long as it's not unwelcome or disruptive,'” Zapp said.
Coppedge's attorney, William Becker, said Tuesday his client was told he risked losing his job if he discussed religion or politics at all.
“Mr. Coppedge was barred from engaging in the same kinds of activities involving religious and political expression that other employees at JPL were permitted to engage in,” Becker said.
Becker said Coppedge, who was first demoted in 2009, was the subject of no workplace complaints from 2003 to 2008.
The case is being tried without a jury before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ernest Hiroshige.
On Tuesday, attorneys for JPL have asked Hiroshige to ban the media from witnessing the testimony of Coppedge's former coworkers.
Zapp said they will be expected to testify about their religious beliefs and that it would be a violation of their privacy rights to have the media present.
“It's unfair to put these people through that kind of exposure on these sorts of personal subjects,” Zapp said Tuesday. “They didn't bring this lawsuit. We're trying to protect employees who are innocent in this process.”
Hiroshige rejected the request Wednesday afternoon, but did not offer his reasons in open court.
Coppedge's attorney, William Becker, said the judge will limit questions regarding the religious or political beliefs of JPL workers to those that are relevant to interactions with Coppedge.