A former computer specialist with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory was laid off because he was combative and didn’t keep his skills sharp — not because he advocated for his belief in intelligent design while at work, an attorney said Monday in a case that plays on the tensions over the controversial origins-of-life concept.
David Coppedge, who worked on NASA’s Cassini mission exploring Saturn and its many moons, sued JPL for wrongful termination in a case that has generated intense interest among proponents of intelligent design — the idea that life is too complex to have evolved through evolution alone.
Closing arguments ended Monday after a five-week trial. The case will be decided by Superior Court Judge Ernest Hiroshige after both sides agreed to forgo a jury.
Coppedge, a self-described evangelical Christian, claims he was demoted then let go for engaging his co-workers in conversations about intelligent design and handing out DVDs on the topic while at work.
Coppedge was a stubborn and disconnected employee who decided not to heed warnings to get additional training, even when it became clear the Cassini mission would be downsized, defense attorney Cameron Fox said.