Can Cobb Co. Attorney Overcome Trial Mistakes in Time to Save School District?

NOV. 11, 2004 – “Either this attorney threw the case on purpose,” says legal analyst Seth Cooper, an expert on the legal aspects of teaching evolution, “or he simply doesn’t know what he was doing. This was a textbook case. Literally. And he blew it.”

The defense mounted this week by the Cobb Co. School District’s attorney Linwood Gunn is being criticized for not calling expert witnesses to rebut those of the plaintiff. While the plaintiff’s attorneys called multiple witnesses including a scientist, Gunn only called one witness, who was not a scientist.

“On Wednesday, Gunn called the defense’s only witness to testify, and even that testimony appears to be unhelpful,” says Cooper. “A strong defense requires a strong factual record for the judge to base his decision on. The defense appears to have dropped the ball in this regard.”

“With the kind of lackluster defense that Gunn mounted, one cannot help but question his commitment to the case,” says Cooper. “It causes one to wonder what his personal opinion on this issue is.”

Another problem in the case according to Cooper is the plaintiff’s efforts to focus the case on supposed religious motives of parents in Cobb County.

“Even if parents in the community happen to be religious,” explains Cooper, an attorney with Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture, “their motives or perceived beliefs are all but irrelevant to the issue being decided by the judge, which is about the constitutionality of the sticker.”

Witnesses called by the ACLU repeatedly asserted that they believe evolution to be a fact, and that there is no scientific debate over the evidence for Darwinian evolution.

Cooper points out that two dozen scientists in the state of Georgia alone have signed an amicus brief acknowledging the importance of students learning about the scientific controversy over neo-Darwinian and chemical evolutionary theories.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this is a blunder of the first order,” says Cooper. “You absolutely can’t let the testimony of a scientist go unanswered by a scientist. Gunn could have called two dozen of them to refute the testimony of the ACLU’s witnesses. Why didn’t he?”

The trial concludes Friday with closing remarks, but Cooper expressed doubts about the ability of the school district’s team to mount an aggressive defense of their client.

About Seth Cooper

Seth Cooper is an attorney and Program Officer, Public Policy & Legal Affairs for Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture.

About Discovery Institute

Discovery Institute is a non-profit, non-partisan, public-policy, think tank which promotes ideas in the common sense tradition of representative government, the free market and individual liberty. Current projects include: technology, the economy, science and culture, regional transportation, and the bi-national region of “Cascadia.”

Discovery Institute

Discovery Institute promotes thoughtful analysis and effective action on local, regional, national and international issues. The Institute is home to an inter-disciplinary community of scholars and policy advocates dedicated to the reinvigoration of traditional Western principles and institutions and the worldview from which they issued.