By Felisa Cardona
The Denver Post
Posted: 07/23/2009 01:00:00 AM MDT
Ward Churchill continues fighting to get his job back in a new legal motion that says a Denver District Court judge erred when he ruled against reinstating the fired University of Colorado professor.
A juror who sat through Churchill's civil case against the university submitted an affidavit to Chief Judge Larry Naves on Tuesday that said the jury wanted him to reinstate Churchill.
"A majority of the jurors thought that the academic misconduct charges were not valid," wrote juror Bethany Newill. "We felt that the procedures afforded to Churchill by the University of Colorado, before his termination, were biased."
Churchill was fired from the university's ethnic studies department in 2007 for academic misconduct. His termination came two years after a speech he wrote came to light that likened some victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to World War II Nazi official Adolf Eichmann.
The speech prompted political outrage across the country. CU investigated whether his speech was protected under the First Amendment and found that it was.
But while the national spotlight was on Churchill, academics came forward and accused him of plagiarism and fraud in scholarly writings, which led to his termination.
Churchill sued the university and was awarded $1 in damages in April by jurors who determined that he was fired in retaliation for his speech.
Under the law, jurors could not decide the issue of reinstatement. That was left for Naves, who presided over the trial.
On July 7, Naves decided not to give Churchill his job back and set aside the jury's verdict. He also wrote in his opinion that CU's Board of Regents acted as a "quasi- judicial" panel that has immunity from the lawsuit.
Churchill's attorneys disagree with his reasoning.
"Essentially, this court has ruled that regardless of how egregious any Constitutional violations are by the Regents of the University of Colorado, as long as they provide a sham, kangaroo court for individuals targeted for termination and/or prosecution because of their political beliefs, the courts of the state of Colorado will never interfere with any such wholesale violations of the Constitution," the motion says.
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