How Much Will It Cost to Buy Out Ward Churchill?

March 2 2005, 11:35 AM

It appears that the University of Colorado may attempt to buy out Professor Ward Churchill's contract. David Lane, Colorado's foremost civil rights attorney, who represents Churchill, warns it will be costly. And the more Governor bill Owens argues for Churchill's termination, the more it may cost.

Lane said such comments only help build the case for a civil rights lawsuit if the regents decide to fire Churchill. "Let's play this out," Lane said. "Let's assume they come up with some excuse for firing him. All I would have to show is that one of the motivating factors in his termination is free speech. If I can prove that, the burden falls on them. And that's a difficult burden for them to meet." ... "Every time a public official makes a statement saying he (Churchill) should be fired, they are making it easier for me to make my case that speech was a motivating factor in his termination.

CU President Betsy Hoffman agrees with Lane.

She said demands for Churchill's dismissal would backfire and only help to make him "a wealthy man at our expense."

The university's regents might face personal liability.

"Absolutely," [Lane] said. "The nature of civil rights litigations is that they would be personally liable."

At a time when tuition at CU is so high that out-of-state applications are declining, neither a lawsuit nor a costly settlement seem to be in the taxpayer's best interest.