Score: Roseville 1, Caldwell 0

In the Caldwell v. Roseville Joint Union High School District case, where plaintiff Larry Caldwell sued Roseville claiming viewpoint discrimination, Roseville has obtained a summary judgment in their favor. [I had something here about summary judgment that several readers took issue with, so I’ll try again later. — WRE]

Caldwell operates a website called Quality Science Education for Everyone that used to have a small amount of material on it about how he was going to improve science education via the legal process. Looking there just now, the site no longer even provides that; it just says something about the site being revamped.

Caldwell filed a lawsuit in 2005 against Eugenie C. Scott over an article she wrote for “California Wild”, and withdrew it without serving it — or bothering to notify Scott that it had been withdrawn. Caldwell served as attorney for a complaint made by his wife (hey, want to buy a bridge cheap?) against the University of California system over the “Understanding Evolution” website. That case was dismissed on a technical issue concerning standing.

Update: Get the decision here.

Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Data scientist in real estate and econometrics. Blogger. Speaker. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.

7 thoughts on “Score: Roseville 1, Caldwell 0

  • 2007/09/11 at 12:00 pm

    A legal-procedural quibble:
    Your explanation of summary judgment is wrong. What you are describing is a motion to dismiss for failure to state a cause of action. (In California state court, that motion is known as a demurrer.) In a motion to dismiss/demurrer, the court considers the facts in the complaint to be true. The court decides whether, assuming the truth of the complaint, the plaintiff has a legal claim.

    A summary judgment motion is completely different. The moving party claims that the important facts are undisputed and, based upon those undisputed facts, that party wins as a matter of law. In a summary judgment motion, the moving and opposing parties must establish the facts with evidence. In a motion to dismiss/demurrer, no evidence is used — the court just looks at the complaint and assumed those facts are true.

  • 2007/09/11 at 12:31 pm

    Hey, just a quibble: you say, “the standard for a summary judgment is that the claims made by the plaintiff in their complaint are considered true and the court decides that there is no basis in law for the claims made in the complaint.”

    That’s not quite right. That’s the standard for a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted; a motion to dismiss can be heard without any evidence, because it determines the legal sufficiency of the complaint itself.

    Summary Judgment is a somewhat different critter, and is usually granted only AFTER there has been some discovery. In Summary Judgment, the standard is whether there is any genuine issue of material fact precluding judgment as a matter of law for the moving party. Instead ot taking the claims of the complaint as true, the court takes the evidence presented by the parties (through affidavits, depositions, et cetera), considers that evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party (that is, all questions of fact are treated as though they’ve been resolved against the party seeking summary judgment), and determines whether, given those facts, the moving party is entitled to relief as a matter of law. The court will take the claims of the moving party as true only to the extent that they are not put in dispute by the non-moving party.

    So, in other words, the court didn’t have to consider the claims in the complaint to be true. Still, the standard on summary judgment is very deferential to the nonmoving party and so this is a good swift kick in the rear…

  • 2007/09/11 at 12:52 pm

    Actually, Wesley, that’s the standard for dismissal. Summary judgement is when the judge only considers those facts that are not in substantial controversy. It basically pits each sides’ legal interpretation of a core set of undisputed facts against each other and sees if judgment can be rendered without having to present conflicting fact claims. If judgment can’t be fully rendered, the remaining claims of the case goes to trial.

    The phases of judgment go as follows:

    Dismissal – plaintiff can’t establish necessary facts or court can’t offer relief requested

    Summary Judgment – some or all of the claims can be decided on uncontested facts

    Trial – remaining claims decided on contested facts

  • 2007/09/11 at 1:19 pm

    “The standard for a summary judgment is that the claims made by the plaintiff in their complaint are considered true and the court decides that there is no basis in law for the claims made in the complaint.”

    Sorry, IAAL, and that’s the standard for motions to dismiss. On motions for summary judgment, the allegations in the complaint are supplemented by whatever evidence the parties are able to present short of trial (e.g., affidavits, depositions, facts of which the court may take judicial notice, etc.). Then the court decides whether the facts in evidence create a genuine legal dispute. (The legal shorthand is whether there is a “genuine issue of material fact.”) If not, and the case can be decided short of trial, the summary judgment motion will be granted.

  • 2007/09/11 at 2:03 pm

    It’s good to get feedback. It still looks like Kurt said, “a good swift kick in the rear” for the litigious.

  • 2007/09/13 at 9:52 am

    Hi Wesley–

    My “afdave” login stopped working again at AtBC. I’m sure this is just a technical malfunction. Could you fix it please? I have an important post to make on the Bathroom Wall. Don’t worry … it’s not about you or your moderation habits or anything like that. It’s about a very recent discovery in Science.


  • 2007/09/13 at 10:43 am

    Oh yeah, that was really earth shattering, Dave.

    Thanks so much. I’ve now reached my recommended daily allowance of Tard. See ya’ tomorrow.

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