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FW: Judge grills Dover official

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  • Popplestone, Ann
    ... From: Steven A. Edinger [mailto:Steven.Edinger.1@Ohio.edu] Sent: Tuesday, November 01, 2005 8:57 AM To: Science Education Subject: Judge grills Dover
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 1, 2005
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      -----Original Message-----
      From: Steven A. Edinger [mailto:Steven.Edinger.1@...]
      Sent: Tuesday, November 01, 2005 8:57 AM
      To: Science Education
      Subject: Judge grills Dover official

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      Dear Colleagues,

      Did I mention that I have some experience with train wrecks,
      specifically
      rebuilding railroad tracks for the Grand Trunk Western after
      derailments? It
      sounds as if Dover School Board members Alan Bonsell and Bill Buckingham
      were a
      pair of train wrecks for the Dover defense team, both impeaching the
      credibility of themselves as well as the defense in general. Add this
      to the
      defense lawyer's cross examination of Dr. Barbara Forrest, which
      included a
      question about evolution making sex with animals O.K., and I think
      (hope) the
      whole case is becoming a huge train wreck for the defense.

      For those wondering why on earth members of the Thomas More Law
      Center would
      ask such ridiculous questions, I suggest going to some of the pro
      Intelligent
      Design Creationism or pro traditional creationism web sites to see the
      scree
      they are spreading (<http://icr.org/> is a good start). It includes
      suggestions that evolution promotes Nazism, communism, homosexuality,
      atheism,
      sex with animals, etc. Since the Thomas More Law Center is a Christian
      organization founded to defend the rights of Christians, I think they
      have read
      that scree and made the mistake of believing it, thinking most other
      people
      will also believe it and believing the creationists (IDC and traditional
      creationists) press clippings about what they think evolution means and
      promotes. I certainly hope any Federal Judge would have the wisdom to
      see
      through such bogus arguments and beliefs.

      Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (Nov. 2, 3 and 4) are the last
      scheduled days
      of the trial. The decision in the trial may not be out for months, and
      the
      Thomas More Law Center has vowed to appeal the case all the way to the
      Supreme
      Court. Considering the stakes in this case, I'm afraid we will all have
      to
      hold our breath till the decision is in, and may have to hold it till
      the
      Supreme Court makes a decision!

      Best wishes,

      Steve Edinger


      >From the York Daily Record at YDR.com


      Judge grills Dover official
      The judge's questioning of Alan Bonsell centered around a check used to
      buy
      books.
      By LAURI LEBO
      Daily Record/Sunday News
      Tuesday, November 1, 2005

      HARRISBURG - After Alan Bonsell finished his testimony Monday, in which
      he
      accused two local newspaper reporters of making up the information that
      drove
      the Dover Area School District into a First Amendment lawsuit, Judge
      John E.
      Jones III demanded to see a copy of Bonsell's previous sworn statements.

      Steve Harvey, the plaintiffs' attorney who had cross-examined the Dover
      Area
      school board member, offered to provide a clean copy later in chambers.

      "I want it now if you have it," the federal judge said. At the end of
      the first
      day of the sixth week of Dover's court battle over intelligent design in
      U.S.
      Middle District Court, Jones had some questions.

      Bonsell sat quietly on the stand chewing gum and swiveling in his chair
      as
      Jones reviewed the man's Jan. 3 deposition in which he denied knowing
      anyone,
      besides his father, who had been involved in donating copies of the
      textbook
      "Of Pandas and People" to the Dover school district.

      After he finished reading, Jones asked Bonsell when he became aware that
      his
      father, Donald, was in possession of an $850 check used to purchase
      copies of
      the pro-intelligent design textbook.

      Bonsell said he had given the check to his father.

      Last week, former board member Bill Buckingham testified he handed the
      check,
      dated Oct. 4, 2004, to Alan Bonsell and asked him to forward it to
      Donald
      Bonsell. Written in the check's memo line were the words: "for Pandas
      and
      People books."

      "You tell me why you didn't say Mr. Buckingham was involved," a visibly
      angry
      Jones said, staring at Bonsell as he read from his deposition.

      Bonsell said he misspoke. And then, "That's my fault, your honor."

      Bonsell said he didn't think it mattered because Buckingham had not
      actually
      donated any of his money. Rather, the money had been collected from
      members of
      his church.

      But Jones pointed out that Bonsell had said he had never spoken to
      anybody else
      about the donations.

      The judge also wanted to know why the money needed to be forwarded to
      his
      father, why Buckingham couldn't have purchased the books himself.

      Bonsell stammered.

      "I still haven't heard an answer from you," Jones said.

      "He said he'd take it off the table," Bonsell said.

      "You knew you were under oath?" Jones asked at one point.

      Later, outside the courthouse, plaintiffs' attorneys had no comment on
      Jones'
      questioning, and Dover's attorney Patrick Gillen had little to say.

      "I won't speculate" about the judge's actions, Gillen said. "I'm
      confident that
      he's seeking the truth in these proceedings."

      Jones' exchange with Bonsell was the second time the judge has
      intervened in
      testimony and questioned school board members on his own. On Friday,
      Jones
      asked Heather Geesey about her newly acquired recollection that board
      members
      at June 2004 meetings were publicly discussing intelligent design,
      rather than
      creationism as reported in the media.

      In her deposition, Geesey had been unable to recall details about board
      discussions during the meetings.

      Much of Bonsell's testimony echoed Buckingham's from last week.

      Buckingham testified about donations from his church. But like Bonsell,
      Buckingham said initially, in his first deposition on Jan. 3, that he
      didn't
      know from where the 60 donated copies came.

      Before Bonsell was forced to defend his past recollections, he spent
      much of
      his time on the stand accusing the local press, in particular two
      reporters -
      Heidi Bernhard-Bubb, a freelance writer with The York Dispatch, and Joe
      Maldonado, a freelance writer with the York Daily Record/Sunday News -
      of
      incorrectly reporting that board members had said "creationism" at the
      June
      2004 board meetings rather than "intelligent design."

      Bonsell said the media continues to misrepresent the case and the
      concept of
      intelligent design - the idea that life's complexity demands a designer.

      Harvey wanted to know why he keeps talking to reporters, since he
      doesn't feel
      they are correctly reporting the facts.

      Bonsell said because he hoped "some of the truth would get out."

      Before Bonsell's testimony Monday, former board member Jane Cleaver had
      also
      testified that board members had been talking about intelligent design
      at the
      June 2004 board meetings, but the local newspapers reported they were
      saying
      creationism.

      However, under cross-examination, she said she was unsure if intelligent
      design
      had been brought up at meetings in June or later at the July board
      meeting.

      Whether board members were talking about creationism then is important
      to
      Dover's First Amendment battle. Attorneys for the 11 parents suing the
      district
      over the mention of intelligent design in biology class say board
      members were
      motivated by religious beliefs, one of the prongs used by the courts to
      determine whether an action violates the constitutional guarantee of
      separation
      of church and state.

      At the Jan. 3 depositions, board members Bonsell, Buckingham, Harkins
      and Supt.
      Nilsen all said they did not remember other board members talking about
      creationism at the June 2004 meetings.

      Cleaver, like Bonsell, blamed the reporters, particularly Maldonado, for
      making
      up their stories.

      "Joe doesn't know how to tell the truth," Cleaver said. "Joe only knows
      how
      tell a lie."

      Last week, both Maldonado and Bernhard-Bubb testified to the accuracy of
      their
      articles. They said no board members ever requested a correction from
      articles
      about the meetings.

      AT A GLANCE

      Excerpts from Alan Bonsell's Jan. 3 deposition:

      Plaintiffs attorney Eric Rothschild: Was the first time you became aware
      of any
      possible donation when you (sic) father told you he intended to do it?

      Dover school board member Alan Bonsell: Well, he wasn't - I mean as far
      as I
      know, he wasn't the only person.

      Rothschild: You don't know who the other people are?

      Bonsell: I don't know who the other people are.

      Rothschild: You have never spoken to anybody else who was involved with
      the
      donation?

      Bonsell: I don't know the other people.

      Rothschild: The only person you could have spoken to about the books was
      your
      father; correct?

      Bonsell: Yes. As far as donating the books, I guess they offered to pay
      for the
      books. And they got the books and gave them to the School District.




      Please see the Ohio Citizens for Science's web page at:


      http://OhioScience.org



      ------------------------------------------------------------------------
      ---
      Steven A. Edinger, Physiology Lab Instructor

      064 Irvine Hall
      Department of Biological Sciences
      steven.edinger.1@...
      Ohio University Office: (740) 593-9484
      Athens, Ohio 45701-2979 Fax: (740) 593-0300
      ------------------------------------------------------------------------
      ---

      ******************************************************
      "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of
      evolution." Theodosius Dobzhansky, 1973
      ******************************************************




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      ******************************************************
      "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of
      evolution." Theodosius Dobzhansky, 1973
      ******************************************************
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