Posted by Ed Brayton on June 20, 2005 09:08 AM

I reported yesterday about William Dembski, John Campbell and Stephen Meyer being withdrawn as expert witnesses by the Thomas More Law Center in the Dover lawsuit. There is now developing some contradictory explanations for that withdrawal. The York Daily Record reported that the TMLC refused to allow the three Discovery Institute (DI) fellows to have their own legal representation present during depositions because it was a "conflict of interest":

Dembski, a mathematician and scientific philosopher, said the Thomas More Law Center, which is defending the school board, basically fired him because he wanted to have his own attorney present during the depositions...

Thompson said the problem arose in the past several weeks when the Discovery Institute insisted that its people have separate legal representation.

But last night, Dembski posted on his blog that it was not the Discovery Institute's insistence on separate legal representation that was a problem at all. In fact, Dembski says that the TMLC would allow Stephen Meyer of the DI to have legal representation, but would not allow Dembski to have an attorney with him and that it was the Foundation for Thought and Ethics (FTE), for whom he works as an editor, who insisted on the separate representation:

The Thomas More Law Center, a public interest law firm which had hired me as an expert witness, did not want the Foundation for Thought and Ethics, which publishes the ID textbook that under dispute in the Dover case (Of Pandas and People) and for which I am the academic editor, to provide me with additional legal counsel when the ACLU was to depose me on June 13th. I expect I would have gone along with the Thomas More Law Center, except that they were prepared to let Stephen Meyer have legal representation. This put me in an impossible situation with my employer FTE — how was I to justfiy to FTE my refusal to let their attorney be present when Thomas More was permitting Discovery to have additional legal counsel present for Stephen Meyer? When I indicated that I would need to have FTE’s counsel at the deposition, the Thomas More Law Center fired me as an expert witness.

This makes no sense for several reasons. First, because in the interview with the YDR, Dembski said that the confict was between the TMLC and the DI:

"Discovery and Thomas More have their differences," he said. "I have a lot of loyalty with Discovery."

According to Dembski's post last night, the problems were not between the DI and the TMLC, but between the TMLC and FTE. Or was he referring to some other set of problems between the DI and TMLC? Second, both Meyer and Campbell, who are also DI Fellows but do not work for the FTE like Dembski does, were also fired as expert witnesses by the TMLC. And the head of the TMLC says that he fired them because the DI insisted on separate representation for all three of them. Third, Campbell was actually withdrawn as an expert witness before Dembski was, nearly a full week before, then Dembski, then Meyer. Lastly, if the TMLC insists that it was a "conflict of interest" to have separate attorneys present during depositions, why would they insist this only with Dembski and not with the others? These explanations don't seem to be consistent with one another. Someone isn't telling the truth.

As I said, I think there are very deep divisions between the DI and the TMLC. I suspect the DI is unhappy both with the fact that the TMLC took the case, thus risking a Federal ruling that ends any chance of getting ID into schools, and with the way they're handling it. Thompson's performance so far, which has included a public letter calling for the firing of a tenured university professor who wrote a letter to the school board criticizing their policy, hasn't exactly been inspiring for their side I'm sure. So I'm sure there's a lot more going on behind the scenes than has been made public.

Incidentally, Dembski himself put a plug on his own blog for my article on PT about the situation, and left a comment in reply to that article as well. Unfortunately, he didn't clear up any of these interesting inconsistencies.