From the Denver Post:
After nearly five years of legal battles, Ward Churchill took his fight to be reinstated as a tenured professor at the University of Colorado to the state’s highest court.
The Colorado Supreme Court heard arguments from Churchill’s lawyer and the university this afternoon after accepting his appeal last month.
Churchill, a longtime professor in the ethnic studies department, was fired in 2007 after an investigation discovered that he had committed academic misconduct. That investigation was sparked by a public controversy that erupted after he published an essay that called Sept. 11 victims “little Eichmanns” — a reference to Nazi Adolf Eichmann.
Churchill sued the university, claiming that he was improperly fired — not for academic misconduct but because his writings, which were protected by the First Amendment, were controversial. A Denver District County jury ruled in his favor in 2009, but it awarded only $1 in damages.
That same year, Denver District Judge Larry Naves ruled that the university didn’t have to reinstate Churchill.
The state Supreme Court will decide if CU’s Board of Regents, who voted to fire Churchill, have immunity from lawsuits and whether the investigation that led to his firing violated Churchill’s First Amendment rights.
“It all comes down to a reminder of what the facts are,” said David Lane, Churchill’s lawyer, describing the attention his client gained as reminiscent to a Mary Shelley novel with “people with pitchforks going after the monster Ward Churchill.”