Freshwater Update (Re-updated 21 Sept)

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.


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.