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Judge rules Churchill can’t return to job

Churchill (The Spokesman-Review)
Churchill (The Spokesman-Review)

BOULDER, Colo. – The University of Colorado professor who was fired after likening victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to a Nazi leader cannot return to his job, a state judge decided Tuesday.

Ethnic studies professor Ward Churchill had won a lawsuit in April alleging that the university retaliated against him for exercising his free speech rights – not for the academic misconduct of which he was subsequently accused.

Yet, the jury awarded him only $1 in damages, a decision Chief Denver Judge Larry Naves cited in ruling that Churchill would not return to his $96,392-per-year job. Nor is the tenured professor entitled to a financial settlement.

“I am bound by the jury’s implicit finding that Professor Churchill has suffered no actual damages as a result of the constitutional violation,” the judge wrote.

Naves also supported the university’s contention that Churchill’s return would weaken its ability to hold students and faculty accountable for misconduct and that Churchill’s relationship with the university had deteriorated to the point where his return would be counterproductive.

“An absence of mutual trust makes reinstatement unfeasible,” Naves wrote.

Churchill sharply criticized the judge’s decision.

“What he’s saying, in essence, is they were not prepared to treat me as any other faculty member would be treated, which was all I ever required,” Churchill said.

He said he would appeal.