Saturday, August 22, 2009

Stupid, Not Contemptuous

Late yesterday, U.S. Federal District Judge Casey Rodgers found Michelle Winkler not guilty of civil contempt when she disobeyed an earlier temporary court order forbidding organized prayer at Santa Rosa County public school events. We summarized the history of this case here ["Laying Down the Puritan Law"] and here ["Southern Hos-Pee-Tility"].

Wernowsky is a clerical employee about as low on the school district's totem pole as anyone can go. According to PNJ reporter Kris Wernowsky, the judge ruled at the close of the day that the evidence showed Wernowsky was insubordinate to her employer but not willfully contemptuous of the court:
Rodgers said that while Winkler clearly defied a superior's directive, she did not willfully violate a temporary injunction Rodgers implemented on Jan. 19, as the School District and ACLU hashed out a long-term written agreement.
In other words, Michelle Winkler is stupid, but not crazy. That's good news for her, even if it should worry her genetic descendants.

The ruling also should worry high school principal Frank Lay and athletic director Robert Freeman. They still face far more serious criminal contempt charges brought on the judge's own motion.

The religulous defense attorney for Winkler refuses "to speculate as to what today's decision means for Mr. Lay and Mr. Freeman." But we're happy to do so.

As we see it, coach Freeman's best defense is to claim that he's dumb as a post and was just following orders from preacher Lay. That might or not might not fly with the court, but in either event Frank Lay is going to be left holding a very heavy bag. Even being stupid won't help him.

More Pace High School Religious Instruction

Sept. 18: Late Editorial Update ("Homo Neanderthalensis")
Sept. 17: Lay, Freeman Beat the Rap with the 'I'm Stupid' Defense
Sept. 17: Pictures of a Pep Rally
Aug. 22: Stupid, Not Contemptuous
Aug. 5: The One and Only Faith
Aug. 4: Frank Lay's Criminal Contempt Order
May 31: Principal Lay Has a 'Come to Jesus' Moment
May 27: Laying Down the Puritan Law
May 15: Southern Hos-Pee-Tility

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You switched Winkler's name with Wernowsky in the second paragraph.

Still don't see how judge ruled Winkler didn't wilfully violate the court order. I saw in PNJ the school had prepared some kind of FAQ dos and don'ts and judge said it may have confused her. Well, that's very convenient! From now on maybe the people running the schools just keep putting out wrong info - then no one gets in trouble....ha!