Freshwater Update (Re-updated 21 Sept)

| 67 Comments

Update Sept 21: In the comments there is some speculation about the strategy being followed by Kelly Hamilton, John Freshwater’s attorney. Thursday of last week, the 17th, Hamilton and Freshwater were interviewed on a radio program hosted by David Barton, notorious revisionist pseudo-historian who is in the process of polluting social studies standards in Texas. Late in the interview (there are no time markers) Hamilton explains his motivation for taking Freshwater’s case:

Everybody in this world is given an opportunity to be obedient at any given time, and it just so happens that I’ve known for several years prior to this event taking place that God made it very clear that one day I would be arguing about the First Amendment as it relates to His Bible. I’ve known this and I can’t wait to share that with others. But, you know, for anybody that doubts God’s intervention in this particular matter, they simply have to recall chapter 6 in Ephesians and the spiritual battle and the [bounty?] that is being fought. The symbolism is so great in this particular case. Recognize that “fresh water,” of course, represents baptism, and that’s exactly .. that’s John’s last name. There is a .. the opposing attorney in this particular case, his last name is Millstone. All you need to do is go to the book of Luke, and when you take a look at the book of Luke it will say, you know, “It would be better for someone to put a mill stone around their neck than to keep these little ones from me.” Then, of course, the judge’s last name in this particular case, his last name is Shepherd. So you start putting some of the symbolism together just on the names, you start to see some of the unique intervention that God has had in this particular matter.

There you have it. It’s a done deal. It’s all in the names.

Note also that Hamilton throws in some snark alleging the family who brought the affair to light were just after money. Recall that they settled their suit with the district for $5,500 and costs. Big money, all right. Hamilton’s gratuitous snark came after the announcement of the settlement.

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Original post

As is obvious, the administrative hearing on John Freshwater’s appeal of the decision of the Mt. Vernon Board of Education to terminate his employment as a middle school science teacher did not resume on Sept 10, as had been previously hoped. The hold up is Freshwater’s request that the Ohio Supreme Court issue a writ of mandamus that compels (at least) two members of the Board of Education (Jody Goetzman and Ian Watson) to testify in the hearing.

To recap the other legal proceedings associated with the situation, last month a partial settlement was reached between the Dennis family and the school district defendants in the federal suit the Dennis’ brought against the district, several administrators, and Freshwater. Freshwater remains a defendant in that suit.

The other federal lawsuit was brought by Freshwater against a range of defendants – board members, administrators, and miscellaneous John and Jane Does. One defendant is David Millstone, the Board’s attorney for the administrative hearing. As I posted on Sept 2, on September 1 Millstone’s attorney filed a motion with the federal court requesting that he be removed as a defendant. I’ve now got the text of Millstone’s filing and memorandum of support (I suspect it’ll be up on the NCSE docs site soon), and it’s more than a simple request to be removed as a defendant. Millstone is asking the federal court to impose sanctions and fees against R. Kelly Hamilton, Freshwater’s attorney, arguing that Hamilton’s inclusion of Millstone as a defendant as an “agent” of the Board of Education, when in fact he is a private attorney hired by the Board, violates the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The filing says

Defendant Millstone is moving the Court for sanctions and fees based on specific conduct by Plaintiff’s [Freshwater’s] counsel that violates Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11. Plaintiff’s Complaint against Defendant Millstone violates Rule 11 because it only serves to harass, cause unnecessary delay, or needlessly increase the cost of litigation. Further, the claims asserted against Defendant Millstone are not warranted by existing law and are not supported by a nonfrivolous argument for extending, modifying, or reversing existing law or for establishing new law. (p. 2)

The rest of the 17 page document provides the support for the request for sanctions and fees. Millstone’s attorney filed this motion after an attempt to resolve the inclusion of the Board’s attorney as a defendant in Freshwater’s lawsuit failed because Hamilton did not respond to a request to discuss the issue informally.

Hamilton’s claims about Millstone in Freshwater’s suit (documents here) do seem a bit strange to a lay person. For example, Hamilton accuses Millstone of “conspiring” with the Board of Education. Erm, is a client consulting with its attorney engaging in a “conspiracy”? Seems a little weird to me, and is part of the basis for Millstone’s request for sanctions and fees against Hamilton.

Actually, one begins to wonder if Hamilton is taking his legal cues from the Thomas More Law Center. We all know how well that worked out for the Dover Area Board of Education. More seriously, something I’ve been watching for in the various twists and turns of this situation is some sign that Hamilton is getting coaching from the ‘professional’ creationist defense outfits. So far I see nothing that suggests that. Hamilton is apparently screwing it up on his own.

67 Comments

Is Hamilton basically throwing out anything he and Freshwater can think of to see what sticks?

Wheels said:

Is Hamilton basically throwing out anything he and Freshwater can think of to see what sticks?

That’s what it looks like to me. And this one may cost him (and/or Freshwater) some money.

RBH said: …this one may cost him (and/or Freshwater) some money.

Cost is no object for the True Believers™. They will take up more collections to cover all of Freshwater’s expenses.

O well, as long as they are wasting money on lost cases like this, that money cannot be used for more damaging purposes.…

RBH said:

Wheels said:

Is Hamilton basically throwing out anything he and Freshwater can think of to see what sticks?

That’s what it looks like to me. And this one may cost him (and/or Freshwater) some money.

Hrm. I’d think a good lawyer, while being able to lay into it from different angles, would at least have enough sense not to formally pursue a kind of conspiracy theory, regardless of what their client thinks is going on. But I’m pretty ignorant about lawyering, so maybe it’s not as crazy as I think it sounds. Thanks for these updates.

Sheesh; it looks like these ID/creationists are trying to emulate a metastasized, inoperable cancer. Making sure the patient dies in the process.

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I am much pleased. I absolutely called this ages ago. When the Freshwater people spun their conspiracy theory and said the school board’s attorney was a major player in that conspiracy, I said that was unethical, disturbing, and likely to get R. Kelly Hamilton sanctioned. I believe it will stick. Going after opposing counsel legally is completely unprofessional and unethical, and that’s been established law for centuries now, and in dozens of countries.

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I’m inclined to agree. The legal strategy employed in this case does strike me, as a non-lawyer, as one that is destined to fail.

It would make more sense to just go before the Board and the arbiter and provide Freshwater’s defense.

As matters appear to me, just reviewing the record, the District didn’t persecute Freshwater, in fact, it went out of its way not to fire him. The clear, proximate cause the district deciding to initiate action against him was the student filing a lawsuit.

The only thing that does (almost) make a little sense to me is that the attorney for the district engaged in ex parte communication with the outside personnel firm hired to investigate Freshwater. As I recall, he sent it back to the personnel firm two or three times asking for more information.

I would imagine that the board’s attorney is conspiring with the board to defeat Freshwater. And Freshwater’s attorney is conspiring with Freshwater to defeat the board.

Isn’t that what lawyers do? Isn’t that why you hire them in the first place? Wouldn’t an attorney who’s not conspiring against the other side be committing some kind of ethical breach?

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This comment has been moved to The Bathroom Wall.

WikiAnswer.com:

A writ of mandamus is a court order instructing an inferior court, a corporation or a person to perform some duty specified in the order. +2 deleted sentences.

Writ of Mandamus seems to mean a court order.

1. It is obvious that the Freshwater defense thinks they are losing. They are struggling like a hooked carp. Stalling, filing frivolous legal motions, and so on. This seems to be a last ditch effort to force a settlement on the basis of tiring out the school board.

2. Time is not on Freshwater’s side. The school board is playing with tax payer money. He is playing with his own and whatever fundie xian sources want to kick in.

3. The usual rule, “When you find yourself in a hole, first stop digging.”Freshwater et al. are still digging.

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Do not feed that troll, please. All responses are gone to the BW.

Thanks.

Maybe there’s both a short term and a long term element to this strategy. The short term goal is to grind down the school board into a disposition more favorable to Freshwater. The long term goal (giving perhaps more credit than they deserve) is to do everything possible to maximize the dollar cost of firing anyone for such offenses.

The thought process can be heard from here: “Yeah, he’s preaching in the classroom and having his students pray to Jesus and flunking biology students who don’t give biblical test answers, BUT in the first place he’s doing God’s work as a true Christian should, and in the second place the last time we fired someone it costs us millions, forcing up taxes, causing the board to get voted out of office in favor of more creationists, and changed nothing fundamental. So let’s ignore it.”

raven said: 2. Time is not on Freshwater’s side. The school board is playing with tax payer money. He is playing with his own and whatever fundie xian sources want to kick in.

I suspect he (or at least Hamilton and his pastor Matolyak) think time is on their side. There’s an election in November, with two BOE slots up. There are 5 candidates: two incumbents who voted to terminate Freshwater, a person who would have voted to do so, one who would not have, and one unknown. If they can elect the one known Freshwater sympathizer, prevent two from voting (Watson & Goetzman) by virtue of their having testified in the hearing (that’s the goal of the mandamus request), and bring sufficient pressure to bear on the member who is an administrator at the Nazarene university, they’d have a 2-1 majority among those remaining to vote on the recommendation of the hearing referee.

And also probably in part what Flint said.

If they can elect the one known Freshwater sympathizer, prevent two from voting (Watson & Goetzman) by virtue of their having testified in the hearing (that’s the goal of the mandamus request), and bring sufficient pressure to bear on the member who is an administrator at the Nazarene university, they’d have a 2-1 majority among those remaining to vote on the recommendation of the hearing referee.

Sounds like a Hail Mary strategy even though they probably don’t much like Catholics. A lot of breaks have to go their way at once.

Depends on how much strength the hard core fundies have in the school district. Usually, they overestimate their appeal and lose if they are open about violating the US constitution. But Mt. Vernon, OH, who knows?

Even if the school board changes, they still can’t violate the constitution. Now that people are watching, that just means more lawsuits.

Re: the update. I think we’ve reached the throw-your-hands-up point where it is no longer worth dealing with this level of lunacy.

Seconded. Learned counsel has chug-a-lugged the koolaid and let go the things of Earth. Train wreck unfolding as we watch.

Richard B. Hoppe Wrote:

There you have it. It’s a done deal. It’s all in the names.

D’Oh, why didn’t I think of that before? - “Fresh water”, (Dover’s Bill) “Bucking ham.” This could be the start of a whole new era in our legal system!

So, let me get this straight, God told this guy he would be fighting for justice. All the names are in the Bible somewhere with the guys on his side having all the good names, (even though you should always do what the shepard wants, the Bible says that), and all because the holy mission is to defend the “free speech” of branding students. RIGHT. Now why would God want you to brand students with an “X”? Does’t say nothin bout that in the Bible, at least nothin good. On the other hand, if they are now admitting that the brand was a cross, then it makes perfect sense, at least in bizzaro world.

Look, you cannot claim that you are defending this guys religious freedm or right to preach in class as free speech. That is why he was fired, because that is illegal. Why doesn’t the other attorney go on the radio and explain how God told him to fight against the liars who break the law and endanger students all while denigrating and misrepresenting the science they were hired to teach? How can these jerks claim the moral high ground here? Who would be dumb enough to fall for that? Who would give this guy money for a defense that can only cost tax payers more?

So in other words, this guy has no real interest in actually defending his client’s interests before the school board. Instead of arguing the case, he’s going for political grandstanding and praying that the composition of the school board changes.

In principle, there’s nothing inherently wrong with using publicity and pressure to further a client’s cause. But this seems to go beyond any effort to actually win and argue the case.

This guy strikes me more as a con man than a true believer. When it’s over, Freshwater still won’t have a job or a settlement, because this guy just won’t go argue the facts and the law.

I can’t say I feel sorry for Freshwater.

Hamilton:

that God made it very clear that one day I would be arguing about the First Amendment as it relates to His Bible.

1. So what happens when Hamilton loses? Does this mean god is losing his super powers?

2. Shorter Hamilton. “I’m a fundie xian death cult kook”.

3. ID has nothing to do with fundie xian cults. No way. The lawyer, Freshwater, and his supporters all just happen to be fundie cult religious fanatics.

This guy strikes me more as a con man than a true believer.

I’m sure he is a believer, but in what?

Reportedly, he isn’t doing this pro bono, for free. He claimed to have a mortgage claim of some sort on Freshwater’s property.

Seems like if he was doing god’s will, he should be working for free, something some lawyers do occasionally for reasons of personal conviction.

“In god we trust, everyone else pays cash.”

The symbolism argument was very entertaining and he’s obviously speaking to a very specific audience. I would venture to guess that he would not present this argument to the general public, unless he’s attempting career suicide.

As an aside, I’m extremely grateful that my last name is not “Fierycaraccident”.

raven said:

Hamilton:

that God made it very clear that one day I would be arguing about the First Amendment as it relates to His Bible.

1. So what happens when Hamilton loses? Does this mean god is losing his super powers?

Of course not. It just means that we simpltons can’t fathom God’s vast, intricate plan or know the full impact of His plan that includes Hamilton and Freshwater losing. I mean, clearly if Hamilton loses, God planned such, and likely in the grand scheme of things Hamilton will become greater because of it. Clearly God planned Jesus’s and Paul’s deaths, right? Must be the same sort of thing - set an example of the poor state of the world that needs to be forgiven (or better still, destroyed) by punishing the good. Isn’t that the most logical course of action?

/sarcasm off

bk said:

Since Hamilton is an apparently self-taught expert at names, do you think he could tell what the slogan “With a name like Smuckers, it has to be good” is supposed to mean?

It took me about 35 years to figure that out myself. It’s saying that the quality of the jelly must be very high, in order to overcome the handicap presented by the weird name. I think.

Monado said:

I hope that was “on their backs” because a talent is a measure of weight and 40 talents would probably break their necks.

No “probably” about it, since 1 talent = 75 pounds. Personally, I’d settle for a cashier’s check.

ben said:

bk said:

Since Hamilton is an apparently self-taught expert at names, do you think he could tell what the slogan “With a name like Smuckers, it has to be good” is supposed to mean?

It took me about 35 years to figure that out myself. It’s saying that the quality of the jelly must be very high, in order to overcome the handicap presented by the weird name. I think.

Could be, but I always thought that the name resembled a “lip smacking” sound. It sounds like it ought to mean yummy. An alternative hypothesis–now how could we test them?

As hilarious as all this is, it’s interesting that Richard sees no signs of Thomas Moore-type coaching. (No way Discovery Institute would be that inept).

seriously is a lawyer named R Kelly drawing attention to names??

To paraphrase Gandhi:

When it comes to the struggle against Evolution:

First they laugh at you.

Then they roll on the floor helplessly

Then you attack them once they’ve broken a few ribs.

Freshwater been in Russia lately?

“Quranic Verses ‘Appear’ on Baby’s Body - Russians flock to see ‘miracle’ baby”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWLKdVlFbps

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This page contains a single entry by Richard B. Hoppe published on September 19, 2009 3:41 PM.

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