The York Dispatch's recent editorial ("Design' folks lose poorly") both misrepresents and misunderstands (the) Discovery Institute's report which found that 90.9 percent of Judge John Jones III's section of the Kitzmiller ruling on whether intelligent design is science was copied verbatim, or near verbatim, from the American Civil Liberties Union's Proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law.

The Dispatch favorably quotes ACLU attorney Witold Walczak attacking the report, saying "it's standard procedure for jurists to cite, in their rulings findings of facts from attorneys involved in cases they are deciding."

Apparently neither Walczak nor the Dispatch has read Discovery's report, which acknowledges precisely the same point: "Proposed 'findings of fact' are prepared to assist judges in writing their opinions, and judges are certainly allowed to draw on them. Indeed, judges routinely invite lawyers to propose findings of fact in order to verify what the lawyers believe to be the key factual issues in the case."

The present situation is different from what the Dispatch and Mr. Walczak misunderstand to be the issue. The extent of Judge Jones' reliance -- verbatim or near-verbatim copying -- from a party's briefs dwarfs the usual practice.


Indeed, legal scholar Bruce Green from the Louis Stein Center for Law and Ethics at Fordham Law School told the Associated Press that it is "not typical for judges to adopt one side's proposed findings verbatim."

The late federal appellate Judge James Skelly Wright, famous for desegregating New Orleans public schools, was favorably quoted in 1964 by the U.S. Supreme Court for instructing judges to avoid the blanket adoption of lawyers' arguments:

"I suggest to you strongly that you avoid as far as you possibly can simply signing what some lawyer puts under your nose. These lawyers, and properly so, in their zeal and advocacy and their enthusiasm are going to state the case for their side in these findings as strongly as they possibly can. When these findings get to the courts of appeals they won't be worth the paper they are written on as far as assisting the court of appeals in determining why the judge decided the case."

Yet that is precisely what happened here. The ACLU, in its "zeal and advocacy," promoted false claims in its Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, which Judge Jones essentially emplaced without change into his ruling.

As one example, Judge Jones claimed intelligent design "is not supported by any peer-reviewed research, data or publications" when pro-intelligent design biochemist Scott Minnich testified that there are between "seven and ten" peer-reviewed papers supporting intelligent design, and Minnich discussed Stephen Meyer's explicitly pro-intelligent design article in the peer-reviewed biology journal, Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington.

Yet that language came verbatim from the ACLU. Numerous other errors which Judge Jones incorporated directly from the ACLU are documented in our report available at

The York Dispatch obviously agreed with the Kitzmiller ruling, which they claim showed intelligent design to be "a lot of hooey."

The newspaper is entitled to its opinion, but Judge Jones' copying directly from the ACLU diminishes the value of his ruling on whether intelligent design is science both in the eyes of the public, and future courts.

Attorney Casey Luskin is co- founder of the Intelligent Design and Evolution Aware ness Center, www.ideacente, in Seattle.