That was the essential question before a panel of Colorado Court of Appeals judges on Wednesday, when Churchill and his attorney argued that his firing from the Boulder campus in 2007 represented an unfair clampdown on academic freedom, reports the Daily Camera. Churchill, the once-tenured professor who won $1 from a jury that concluded he was fired illegally for exercising his constitutional right to freedom of speech, says his firing had a chilling effect on the campus' sense of self-expression—a contention one CU legal team calls void of "credible evidence."
Churchill's lawyer, David Lane, told the three-judge panel his client deserves a new trial because a judge ignored evidence that CU's governing body, the Board of Regents, wanted Churchill fired even before dismissal hearings began. "It was all but a torchlight parade to the doorstep of Regent's Hall," Lane added. "They called him reprehensible" (via The Associated Press).
CU attorney Patrick O'Rourke argued that public employers may control conduct in the workplace, just as private companies do.
Lane tells the Camera appellate opinions are generally issued within a month, but he expects the decision in this case to take longer.