Churchill Trial Blog Day 2: Gov. Owens Questioned

Former Governor Says He Though Churchill Should Be Fired

Former University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill is suing to get his job back, saying he was fired over an essay he wrote about the Sept. 11 attacks. The school argues that he was fired because of plagiarism, fabrication and other research misconduct. 7NEWS Reporter Steve Saunders is blogging live from the trial.

9:10 a.m.

Former Acting Chancellor for the University of Colorado, Phil DiStefano, takes the stand to continue his cross examination.

9:15 a.m.

DiStefano says he had no role in picking the faculty staff that evaluated Ward Churchill's conduct.

9:20 a.m.

DiStefano is explaining how he came to the University of Colorado and became Dean of the Education Department.

9:34 a.m.

DiStefano testifies that he was getting enormous pressure from parents of CU students to dismiss Churchill. Some parents said they would take their children out of the school if Churchill stayed. At same time, he said he was trying to balance the respect for academic freedom. He called it a balancing act. He was very aware of Ward Churchill's first amendment rights.

9:40 a.m.

DiStefano is reading from book that Churchill published that included his controversial 9-11 essay. He testified that Churchill made no effort to make it clear that he was not speaking for the university. He said that the university began hearing reports that Churchill had advocated violence and "hate speech." DiStefano said it would have been irresponsible for him not to further investigate the allegations.

10:00 a.m.

DiStefano said he did not "throw Churchill to the mob" as Churchill attorney David Lane contended in his opening statements. He said it was quite the opposite.

10:33 a.m.

Trial takes its first recess. Former Gov. Bill Owens is expected to testify in the early afternoon.

11:15 a.m.

After morning recess, DiStefano continues to be cross examined by Churchill's attorney, David Lane. DiStefano admits that he violated some of the rules of confidentiality as the investigation continued. He said it was not intentional.

12:00 p.m.

Robert Perkinson, a former student of Ward Churchill is now on the witness stand. He is defending Churchill's research practices.

12:30 p.m.

Lunch recess has begun. Former Gov. Bill Owens is expected to testify at 1:30 p.m.

1:38 p.m.

Former Colorado Gov. Bill Owens takes the witness stand. He says he had never heard of Ward Churchill's name until the controversy began in early 2005.

1:41 p.m.

Jury hears a deposition tape in which former C.U. President Elizabeth Hoffman says Owens told her in an angry tone to "fire Ward Churchill tomorrow." Owens says he doesn't recall the exact conversation.

1:58 p.m.

Owens admits he went on television several times saying he thought that Churchill should be fired. Jury hears transcript of Owens on Bill O'Reilly show where Owens said he cannot fire Churchill on his own, but believes that a process is under way that will ultimately lead to Churchill's firing.

2:05 p.m.

Owens told O'Reilly he did have some budget authority over the university. David Lane says that was a veiled threat to fire Churchill or face the consequences.

2:13 p.m.

Owens says some universities have fired employees for their comments.

2:15 p.m.

David Lane finishes his direct examination of Owens.

2:18 p.m.

Owens says the Board of Regents' process for firing Churchill was "superior" to his initial call to fire Churchill. He said regents never told him in private that they would find a way to fire him.

2:25 p.m.

Owens denies there was a strategy to get Churchill fired after it became clear that Churchill could not be fired for his 9-11 comments.

2:32 p.m.

Owens is finished with his testimony. A brief recess has begun.

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