We are getting a slightly later start today, 9:15 instead of 9 a.m., because yesterday’s proceedings went until 7 p.m. What a treat.
The word on the street is there will be more expert witnesses called today, but at the rate we’ve been going, I’d guess we’ll only get through one if we’re lucky.
Side note: Be patient with us on comment moderation. Because of the sensitive nature of this trial, we’re being extra careful about what is approved for the public eye. So if it’s been taking longer than usual to see your pen name on the screen, now you know why.
To the jump, my update-loving friends.
UPDATE 9:40 a.m.
Still haven’t started. Sen. Royce West just arrived, whistling a little tune.
I’ve confirmed that Swann won’t resume his testimony until Wednesday. Today, an IT expert will reportedly take the stand.
UPDATE 1:30 p.m.
Court is still in lunch recess. I’ve been feverishly writing up a story for Park Cities People so I apologize for the delay on updates. Here ’tis:
As you might have imagined, ESD once again filed a last-minute motion to have the plaintiff’s expert testimony excluded. This time, the expert is computer forensic investigator John E. Wiechman with TSLI Inc. Chrysta Castaneda’s objection was that ESD still does not have Jane Doe II’s computer.
“How is that relevant?” Benson asks.
Eventually, Wiechman is allowed to testify.
Wiechman, responding to questions from Brent Walker, says he did not find any emails on Jane Doe II’s or Nathan Campbell’s from each other. He goes on to explain that it’s still possible they sent emails, but they may have been deleted or overwritten.
Wiechman says although he can’t find a full record of instant messages on either computer, he can tell there is “a relationship” between the two accounts due to time logs, error messages, and message fragments.”
Walker asks if an employer can monitor its laptop anywhere it is used, including on a home network. Wiechman says, “Yes, easily.” He also says the software to do this has been around “at least 10 years.”
“If ESD takes the position there is no way to monitor the cell phone and laptop they gave an employee, is that accurate?” Walker asks.
“No, it is not,” Wiechman says.
Chrysta Castaneda begins cross-examining Wiechman by asking, “Are you familiar with the kind of network security systems schools typically use?”
He says he is not.
Castaneda asks Wiechman if he would agree the majority of the IMs took place after 8 p.m. He agrees.
Regarding key stroke software, Castaneda asks if “every single thing that was typed would’ve been recorded, whether or not it got sent or saved, correct?”
“That’s correct,” Wiechman says.
“Is it fair to say you have no idea how many hours and how much manpower would be needed to review those files?” Castaneda asks.
“I have no idea. That’s not my area of expertise,” Wiechman says.
“Are you saying ESD should’ve put this software on all its school-issued laptops?” Castaneda asks.
“I’m absolutely not saying that,” Wiechman says. “Its an option for an organization to install that type of monitoring. … I’m not a [chief technology officer for a school]. I don’t have an opinion on what a school should or shouldn’t do.”
UPDATE 5 p.m.
The court is adjourned for the day. Proceedings (and the latest expert witness testimony) will resume at 9 a.m. tomorrow. Here’s the play-by-play of the after lunch testimony:
Scott Koelker comes off the bench for ESD and presents a motion to get expert witness testimony excluded. I feel like I’ve heard this argument before. So does Benson, who denies the motion.
Dr. Edward Dragan, and his 17-page resume, takes the stand as an expert witness for the plaintiff. Dragan is employed as a consultant to schools, attorneys, and individuals for Education Management Consulting, LLC.
Cyndy Goosen, attorney for the plaintiffs, asks Dragan if several of his papers, including one titled “Lack of oversight in a school can cost you millions if a student is hurt,” is relevant in cases like this one.
“Yes,” Dragan says.
Castaneda asks to approach the bench.
“Sure, why not,” Benson says.
Shortly after this, questioning resumes. Goosen asks Dragan to tell the jury what his opinion is about ESD’s hiring and supervision practices.
“[ESD] failed in their responsibility to conduct the proper hiring process,” Dragan says, adding that he found no proof Campbell’s references were actually checked. “In the 5 years that Campbell was a teacher, he was never observed or consulted about his teaching performance … The administration in a school is responsible for ensuring teachers are doing what they ought to do so the children can learn.”
Regarding references, Dragan says Campbell’s personnel file contained notes that his former employers “wouldn’t respond to inquiry.”
“This indicates there was some attempt [to check his references], but that’s not sufficient … If you end up at a dead end, you have to continue to pursue it,” Dragan says.
After returning from a brief recess, Goosen asks Dragan if the school acted reasonably and consistent with education standards regarding its monitoring of school-issued equipment.
“When you have a predator and nobody’s watching, that provides an opportunity, unfortunately, for a predator to take advantage of a kid,” Dragan says, adding later, “You don’t just give a teacher a laptop, or a cell phone, or keys to a van and a building … In my opinion, [ESD] failed to meet the standard.”
Regarding Jane Doe II’s expulsion, Dragan describes the matter this way:
“This was one of the most disturbing parts of my review,” Dragan says. “Jane Doe II was the victim. Campbell was the predator. The end result was Jane Doe II was punished for what occurred.”
Goosen asks “Is it common practice to have an expulsion procedure in place?”
Dragan says yes, and goes on to explain that in his experience, schools provide a due process, involve the student in that decision and plan for the transition to a new school.
Goosen asks if in his opinion, ESD acted in a negligent manner concerning policies, procedures, monitoring devices, and how they handled Jane Doe II’s expulsion and Campbell’s resignation.
“They acted in a negligent way,” Dragan says. “They absolutely were negligent in providing policies and procedures and implementing them.”
Goosen asks Dragan to read from comments that Campbell wrote on Jane Doe II’s report cards and to offer his opinion on if they are appropriate.
“[Jane Doe II] was certainly like a dog with a bone this quarter,” Campbell wrote. “I admire her tenacity … I look forward to more late night emails and in-depth questions.”
Dragan responds, “This should have stood out as a red flag. There’s no reason for a student to send a teacher an email late at night.”
“I enjoy the daily visits with [Jane Doe II],” Campbell wrote. “I’d like to see her participate and ask more questions in class instead of saving them for my office.”
“[Jane Doe II] is one of the few students who regularly comes by my office for assistance,” Campbell wrote.
Goosen asks, “A seasoned educator should’ve picked up on this, correct?”
“Yes,” Dragan says.
Changing gears to Jane Doe II’s expulsion, Goosen asks “should expulsion, in this circumstance, be the first option in dealing with such a crisis?”
“No,” Dragan says, adding, “I would characterize it as trying to sweep the situation under the rug.”
Goosen asks Dragan if it was prudent for the school to offer Mr. Doe no other options besides withdrawing his daughter that day or having her expelled (A memo by Rebecca Royall states “There is no door #3).
“Not only do I not find it prudent, I find it appalling,” Dragan says.
After trying (and failing) to define “gross negligence” in a way ESD’s council will agree on, Goosen and opposing counsel approach Benson and she, rather than ruling, adjourns the court until tomorrow.