Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Bill Buckingham’s Dover Testimony

While preparing for a presentation on the Dover trial, as well as prepping for the book project, I’ve been rereading some of the testimony transcripts from the Dover trial. Rereading the cross examination of Dover school board member Bill Buckingham is really quite appalling. It becomes very clear that this man is simply not very bright and is almost completely ignorant about the most basic scientific subjects. It’s frightening to me that we have men like this deciding school curricula that they themselves simply are neither intelligent enough nor educated enough to understand on even the most basic level. Put this guy into a high school biology class and give him a final exam and he would almost certainly fail, and fail badly. Yet he was in charge of the committee that set the curriculum in the Dover school district. Over and over again, they read him what he said at his deposition and he had no idea even what he had said then, or what it meant. He just comes across as a completely ignoramus. I’ll quote some long excerpts below the fold.

Here’s his complete confusion about what intelligent design means or what it says, as opposed to evolution:

Q. And in contrast to evolution you believe that the theory of intelligent design is not inconsistent with your personal religious beliefs, isn’t that true?

A. I’m not an expert on intelligent design. I don’t know everything about intelligent design. I just know that it’s another scientific theory that we thought would be good to have presented to the students.

Q. My question is a little different, Mr. Buckingham. I’m asking you it’s your understanding that intelligent design is consistent with your personal beliefs, isn’t that right?

MR. GILLEN: Objection. Foundation. He just said he doesn’t have a detailed understanding of intelligent design.

THE COURT: Well, the question is different. It has to do with whether it’s consistent with his personal belief. So I’ll overrule the objection. You can answer the question.

A. I can’t answer that because I don’t know everything about intelligent design. I don’t know.

Q. Mr. Buckingham, I’d like you to turn to a page to the deposition transcript that was taken on January the 3rd, and turn to page 134, please.

A. I’m there.

Q. Line 12, are you there?

A. Yes.

Q. Didn’t I ask you the following questions and you give the following answers?

” QUESTION: Earlier today I asked you about whether the theory of evolution was inconsistent with your personal religious beliefs, you told me that it was. You don’t need to confirm that. Just kind of remember.

ANSWER: I think I said it wasn’t.

QUESTION: No, you definitely said that the theory of evolution was inconsistent with your personal religious beliefs at least to the extent that it taught that life forms were derived from a common ancestor.

ANSWER: Origins of life, yes.

QUESTION: Is the theory of intelligent design as you phrased it, is that inconsistent with your personal beliefs in any respect?”

And then there was an objection, and I said, clarified the question, “Well, in any context,” and you said, “In any context no, it’s not inconsistent.” Do you remember giving that testimony, Mr. Buckingham?

A. I remember giving the testimony, but I think in any context I’m sure there’s some context of intelligent design that aren’t inconsistent with my faith.

Q. Now, you believe, Mr. Buckingham, that intelligent design is a scientific theory, don’t you?

A. Yes, I do.

Q. And I asked you at your deposition on January 3rd if you could tell me what you understand intelligent design to mean, and you told me that you believe that intelligent design teaches that something, molecules or amoeba possibly, evolved into the complexities of life we have now. Isn’t that right?

A. Without seeing it in front of me I can’t tell you if that’s right or not, sir.

Q. Please take a look at page 61 of that same deposition transcript. Actually, Mr. Buckingham, it begins on page 60, line 22.

A. I’m there.

Q. Didn’t I ask you the following questions and you gave the following answers?

” QUESTION: I’m just trying to understand so we can have a working understanding here of what intelligent design is if we can. Do you have an understanding in very simple terms of what intelligent design stands for? What does it teach?

ANSWER: Other than what I’ve expressed that scientists, a lot of scientists, don’t ask me the names, I can’t tell you where it came from, a lot of scientists believe that back through time something, molecules, amoeba, whatever, evolved into the complexities of life we have now.

QUESTION: That’s the theory of intelligent design?

ANSWER: You asked me my understanding of it. I’m not a scientist. I can’t go into details and debate it with you.”

Do you remember giving that testimony?

A. Yes.

Q. And at least as of that date, January the 3rd, that’s all that you understood about what the theory of intelligent design is, isn’t that correct?

A. Plus the fact that I felt that life was too complex to have randomly happened without a design of some sort.

Q. That’s right. In fact, you told me at your deposition that one of the differences between the theory, that between the theory of evolution and intelligent design is that the theory of evolution according to you teaches that the beginning of man is just happenstance, isn’t that correct?

A. Can you show me where I said that?

Q. Sure. Please take a look at pages 20 and 21 of that same deposition transcript.

A. I’m there.

Q. If you start on page 20 — actually to get some context here we really need to go to page 18. The question that was asked was, “Let’s just take it for a second,” and this is line 11 on page 18, “But let’s just take it for a second that the common ancestor, let’s say it’s some single celled organism many millions of years ago, and that if that’s what the theory of evolution teaches that that’s the common ancestor, that that violates or is that inconsistent with your personal religious beliefs?”

And then you answered the question over on page 20, you asked me a question, “Ancestor what? Ancestor to what?” And I said, “To all forms of life, including man,” and you said, “The question was is that inconsistent with my beliefs?

” QUESTION: Yes.

ANSWER: Yes.

QUESTION: Why is that inconsistent with your beliefs?

ANSWER: Why is that inconsistent with my beliefs?

QUESTION: Yes.

ANSWER: My faith is founded on the Book of Genesis.

QUESTION: Can you explain further?

ANSWER: They’re different.

QUESTION: How are they different?

ANSWER: Do you want to do this again?

QUESTION: I would like to make sure that the record is clear on this point.

ANSWER: Again I’m not a scientist, but it’s my understanding that in the theory of evolution where it goes back to the beginning of man it’s happenstance, it just happened, and that’s inconsistent with my faith.”

You gave that testimony, didn’t you, Mr. Buckingham.

A. Yes, when we talked about the origins of life, yes.

Q. And intelligent design it’s your understanding teaches that the beginning of man is not happenstance, correct?

A. True.

Q. According to you, intelligent design expresses an order, as opposed to evolution which talks about chance, correct?

A. I would say evolution talks about random chance and intelligent design expresses an order.

Here’s his utter confusion about what the book Of Pandas and People – the book that he went out of his way to make sure would get into the hands of Dover students – said:

Q. Now, Mr. Buckingham, you’re familiar with the book Of Pandas and People, aren’t you?

A. Somewhat.

Q. You actually ordered a copy of that book back in the summer of 2004, isn’t that right?

A. Yes.

Q. May I approach the witness, Your Honor?

THE COURT: You may.

Q. Mr. Buckingham, I’ve handed you a copy of the book Of Pandas and People which has been marked as P-11. We might want to refer to it in the next few questions, and my question is do you know whether intelligent design says that life, like a manufactured object, is the result of intelligent shaping of matter? Does intelligent design teach that?

A. I’ve never heard that.

Q. Well, actually at your deposition you told me that it doesn’t teach that, isn’t that right?

A. If you can show me where I said that.

Q. Please turn to page 163 and 164 of your transcript. Excuse me, 63 and 64. Page 63, line 19, Mr. Buckingham, the question I asked was:

” QUESTION: Mr. Buckingham, does intelligent teach that life, like a manufactured object, is the result of intelligent shaping of matter?

ANSWER: I think one, I think intelligent design expresses an order, as opposed to the theory of evolution, which talks about chance.

QUESTION: It expresses an order you said?

ANSWER: An orderly process to things.

QUESTION: Who or what directed that order?

ANSWER: I don’t know.

QUESTION: But my question is, or excuse me, was, does intelligent design teach that life, like a manufactured object, is the result of intelligent shaping of matter?

ANSWER: I don’t know about shaping. I think there’s an order in intelligent design that’s not in evolution. Whether it’s not, it’s shaping, I don’t know.

QUESTION: Does intelligent design teach that life…”

Let’s stop right there. So you gave that testimony on January the 1st, isn’t that right?

A. Yes.

Q. I’d like you to turn for just a second to in your book Of Pandas and People there to page Roman VII, it’s little “vii,” it’s one of the first pages in the book. Actually it’s right under the word “Introduction” on the right-hand side. I’d be happy to come show you.

A. I have it.

Q. Do you have it?

A. I have it.

Q. And Matt, would you please bring that up on the screen and highlight the language in the bottom right-hand corner? This is Of Pandas and People, this book we’re looking at, isn’t it?

A. Yes, it is.

Q. This is the book the school district approved for the Dover High School, isn’t that right?

A. As a resource book, yes.

Q. As a resource book on intelligent design, correct?

A. Yes.

Q. And if you look in the lower right-hand corner it says, “Likewise, proponents of intelligent design throughout history have shared the concept that life, like a manufactured object, is the result of intelligent shaping of matter. Do you see that?

A. Yes, I do.

Q. You didn’t even know that Pandas said that, did you?

A. I didn’t remember that it said that. I don’t know if I — no, I didn’t.

Q. You didn’t know that, correct?

A. No.

Q. Now, do you know whether intelligent design teaches that life owes its origins to a master intellect?

A. I don’t know that.

Q. Well, at your deposition you told me that intelligent design doesn’t teach that life owes its origins to a master intellect, isn’t that right?

A. That’s what I’m saying. I don’t know what you said you thought I knew.

Q. And in fact if you’ll turn to page 58 of this book Of Pandas and People, please tell me when you get there.

A. I’m there.

Q. Just above the words “Suggested reading resources” there’s the last sentence in the previous section says, “This parallel strongly suggests that life itself owes its origin to a master intellect.” Isn’t that what Pandas says, Mr. Buckingham?

A. That’s what that sentence says. I don’t know the context it was written in though.

Q. So but the point is you didn’t even know that Pandas and People, the book that was approved for the Dover High School about intelligent design, teaches that life owes its origins to a master intellect? You weren’t aware of that, is that right?

A. If you’re asking me if I memorized this book, I didn’t.

Q. I’m just asking if you were aware of that. You were not aware of that, isn’t that true?

A. No.

Q. I’m sorry, you meant to say correct, isn’t that right? Correct, you weren’t aware of that?

A. Could you rephrase the question or ask me the question again?

Q. Sure. I’m just trying to establish, you weren’t aware that Pandas teaches the life owes its origins to a master intellect?

A. I didn’t remember that being in there, no.

Q. Okay. Now, does the theory of intelligent design teach that various forms of life began abruptly through an intelligent cause?

A. What I know about intelligent design is that it’s another scientific theory, and I’m sure there are a lot of things about intelligent design. I don’t know.

Q. Well, let me just re-ask the question. You don’t know — just let me make this clear, you don’t know whether or not intelligent design teaches that life, the various forms of life began abruptly through an intelligent agency. You just don’t know whether it teaches that or not, isn’t that right?

A. No, I don’t.

He bought a copy of the book, allegedly read it, talked the board into refusing to order new biology textbooks unless they also used this book along with it, yet he has absolutely no idea what it said or what it meant. And sadly, we have school boards all over the country populated by people just like this, people who have no idea what they’re talking about.

Then there’s this claim that he didn’t say a number of things that he was recorded by multiple sources as having said at board meetings. You’ll love the last one especially:

Q. And then the next sentence says, “Buckingham said the committee would look for a book that presented both creationism and evolution.” Do you see that?

A. I see it.

Q. You actually said that?

A. No, I didn’t.

Q. You didn’t say that at the —

A. No, I didn’t.

Q. Now, the march of the articles, let’s go on to P-46, which is another article.

A. I’m there.

Q. This is an article dated June the 9th, 2004 from the York Daily Record, isn’t it?

A. Yes.

Q. And it was written by Joseph Maldonado?

A. Yes, it was.

Q. And do you know Mr. Maldonado?

A. I know he’s a reporter.

Q. And he was a reporter for York Daily Record, right?

A. Yes.

Q. Now, did you read this article at or around the time it was published on June the 9th, 2004?

A. No.

Q. Let’s look at that, I want to ask you some questions about the text. Look at the very first paragraph in this, it says, “Former Dover high school board member Barrie Callahan repeated her request for new biology books for the high school at Monday night’s board meeting.” Do you see that?

A. Yes, I do.

Q. And that’s referring to the June 7th meeting?

A. Yes.

Q. And that’s actually a true statement, isn’t it? You agree with that?

A. That was normal for her. Every meeting she did that, yes.

Q. And therefore the next sentence in the P-46 is also true, it says, “For the past few months she has appeared several times before the board to request a status update.”

A. That’s true.

Q. And the next statement says, “Board member William Buckingham, who sits on the curriculum committee, said a book had been under consideration, Biology, by Miller and Levine, but was declined because of its one-sided references to evolution.” Do you see that?

A. I see it.

Q. That’s a true statement, isn’t it?

A. No, it’s not. It wasn’t declined at that point.

Q. So that statement is true except that it wasn’t declined at that point, right?

A. And I don’t think I said it’s declined because of one-sided references to evolution.

Q. So it’s your testimony that that statement in the Exhibit P-46 is in fact not true, correct?

A. True. Correct.

Q. Let’s look at the next paragraph. It says, actually the article says, it’s quoting you, “‘It’s inexcusable to teach from a book that says man descended from apes and monkeys,’ he said. ‘We want a book that gives balanced education.'” Do you see that?

A. I see it.

Q. Now, that’s a true statement. You did say that at the June 7th board meeting?

A. I don’t remember saying that.

(Brief pause.)

Q. So your testimony is not that you didn’t say it. It’s that you don’t remember saying it, isn’t that right?

A. That’s my testimony.

Q. Then the next paragraph says, “Buckingham and other board members are looking for a book that teaches creationism and evolution.” Do you see that?

A. I see it.

Q. Now, you said that, didn’t you?

A. No, I didn’t.

Q. And the statement after that says, “But a former student, Max Pell, told the board Monday night that he was concerned that that type of book would trample on the separation of church and state.” Do you see that?

A. I see it.

Q. Now, do you remember a young man by the name of Max Pell speaking at that meeting?

A. Yes, I do.

Q. And do you remember him saying something about what the board wanted to do would the trample on the separation of church and state?

A. I can’t say I do, no.

Q. So you just don’t remember, is that correct?

A. I don’t remember everything he said.

Q. You don’t remember whether he said this statement, isn’t that correct?

A. That’s true.

Q. Now, the next paragraph says, “Board president Allen Bonsell disagrees, saying there were only two theories, creationism and evolution, that could possibly be taught. He said that as long as both were taught as theories, there would be no problem for the district.” Do you see that?

A. I see it.

Q. Did Mr. Bonsell say that?

A. I never heard him say that.

Q. So it’s your testimony that he didn’t say it or you don’t remember?

A. I don’t go with him everywhere he goes. I don’t know if he said it or not, but I don’t remember hearing him say it.

Q. Well, I guess what I’m trying to figure out is this is reporting that that was said at the board meeting, right?

A. Apparently that’s what they’re saying was said, but I didn’t hear it.

Q. And I just want to make the record clear here, are you saying that you don’t remember it, you don’t remember hearing it, or are you saying you’re sure it wasn’t said?

A. I’m sure it wasn’t said, because if he would have said it I would have remembered it, because it just wouldn’t have made sense.

Q. Okay. Let’s talk about the next statement in there. It says, again quoting you, “‘Have you ever heard of brain washing?’ Buckingham asked Pell. ‘If students are only taught evolution, it stops becoming theory and becomes fact.'” That’s true, isn’t it?

A. It’s close, but it’s not accurate.

Q. In what respect is it not accurate?

A. What I said was if students are taught the same thing over and over again, whether it’s true or not, it becomes fact in their minds.

Q. And then the next statement says, “After the meeting Buckingham said all he wants is a book that offers balance between what he said are Christian views of creationism and evolution.” Do you see that?

A. I see it.

Q. And you in fact did say that at the meeting, didn’t you?

A. No, I didn’t.

Q. And then the final statement in here says, “He said, ‘There needn’t be consideration of the beliefs of Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, or other faiths and views,'” and then quoting you directly, “‘This country wasn’t founded on Muslim beliefs or evolution,’ he said. ‘This country was found on Christianity, and our students should be taught as such.'” Do you see that?

A. I see it.

Q. You said that, didn’t you?

A. No, I didn’t.

Q. Well —

A. I didn’t say it then. I made a statement similar to that when we having a discussion about taking “under God” out of the Pledge, and I said it to Joe Maldonado after the meeting because he asked me if I didn’t think that Hindus and Muslims would be offended by having “under God” in there. I said I didn’t think they would, because it doesn’t refer to a specific god. It refers to God. And I did make this statement that this country was founded on Christianity, we have the Pilgrims and so forth, and the Federalist Papers, the Preamble to the Constitution says we’re all created, you know, it’s all through our history, and that’s what I was getting it.

Mr. Buckingham is as ignorant about American history as he is about evolutionary biology. This country was not “founded on Christianity”; for crying out loud, the Treaty of Tripoli, negotiated under George Washington and signed by John Adams contains the statement, “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion”; you simply don’t get much clearer than that. Nor is there any mention of creation or Christianity anywhere in the Federalist Papers or in the preamble to the Constitution. Again, it’s absolutely appalling that the education of thousands of students was in the hands of something this uneducated himself.

And here is getting caught in a glaring lie concerning where the money came from to purchase the some 60 copies of Pandas:

Q. And at a board meeting in the fall of 2004, a question was raised by a man named Larry Snoke, who was a former member of the board, about who donated the copies of Pandas to the school district. Right?

A. Yes, I remember that.

Q. And the board didn’t provide any answer to Mr. Snoke’s question, did they?

A. I don’t recall what the response was.

Q. Well, you didn’t speak up and say that you knew where the money came from, did you?

A. No, I didn’t.

Q. And are you aware that Mr. Alan Bonsell spoke up and said he knew where the money came from?

A. I don’t remember him saying that.

Q. And the reason why you didn’t speak up at the board meeting in the fall of 2004 about who donated the money for the donation of Pandas is because you didn’t want anybody to know that the money was raised at a church. Isn’t that true?

A. That’s not true. I didn’t — I couldn’t say who donated the money because I didn’t know where cash came from. We had mailboxes inside the church that the pastor and the elders used to communicate with us from week to week, and envelopes would be placed in there with cash in it. There was no note, there was nothing, it was just cash. I didn’t know who gave it to me, I just knew where it came from.

Q. So you just knew that it came from members of your church, but you didn’t know which specific members of your church. Right?

A. As far as the cash goes, that’s true.

Q. And there was also one check, and you knew who that came from. Right?

A. Yes, I do.

Q. And you think that because you didn’t know the specific names of the people at your church who gave the money, that you shouldn’t tell this former board member, this member of the public, where this — that the money for the donation was collected at your church. You didn’t think you should share that information. Right?

A. I didn’t see where it was relevant.

Q. Well, actually, you wanted to hide that information. Isn’t that true, Mr. Buckingham?

A. No. If someone would have asked me if it came from the church, the people at the church, I would have told them it did, but it never came up.

Q. Well, Mr. Buckingham —

A. It was put to us, who donated the money, and I don’t know who did. I know there were people in a certain setting that did, but I don’t know who they were.

Q. If someone had asked you specifically about that, you would have told them. Right?

A. Asked me about what?

Q. About who donated the money.

A. I don’t know who donated the money.

Q. I’m asking you, if somebody had asked you specifically who donated the money, you’re telling us you would have told them. Right?

A. As far as the cash goes, yes.

Q. Well, as a matter of fact, Mr. Buckingham, I asked you specifically who donated the money, and you didn’t tell me at your deposition on January the 3rd, 2005. Isn’t that true?

A. The cash are you talking about?

Q. I asked — let’s review your testimony. Please go to Page 57, Line 9.

A. Of the March or —

Q. This is January 3rd.

A. 57, Line 9?

Q. Yes, sir.

A. I’m there.

Q. I asked you the following questions, and you gave the following answers:

Question: The school district received a number of copies of the book Of Pandas and People. Correct? Answer: Yes. Question: Do you know how many copies? Answer: I’ve been told there were 60. I haven’t seen them. Question: Do you know where that came from, who donated the money? Answer: No, I don’t. Question: You have no idea? Answer: I have thoughts, but I don’t know. Question: What are your thoughts? Answer: I think it could have a tie to Alan Bonsell, who was board president at the time. Question: Why do you think — I know you’re not saying it was, but why do you think it might have ties to Mr. Bonsell? Answer: Because he was the president of the board at the time, and I just deduced from that that.

That was the testimony that you gave on January the 3rd of 2005. Isn’t that true?

A. Doesn’t that reference the books, not the money?

Q. Isn’t that the testimony that you gave on January the 3rd, 2005?

A. Yes.

Q. And then if you’ll turn, Mr. Buckingham, to — or, actually, go down the page to Line 24 on Page 58. Didn’t I ask you the following questions and you give the following answers:

Question: Were you ever at a board meeting where someone asked who donated the book to the school, in fact, Larry Snoke, a former board member asking who donated it? Answer: I think he expressed a wonder-type thing over where they came from. I don’t think — I don’t remember anybody asking directly where they came from. Question: Were you curious to know where it came from? Answer: I know they came from someone in the public sector. I know we didn’t use taxpayer funds to pay for them.

Question: Did you ask where it came from? Answer: No. Question: Why didn’t you ask? Answer: Didn’t want to know. Question: Why didn’t you want to know? Answer: Well, what purpose would it serve? Question: Well, because you’re a board member and the school district is part of your responsibility as a board member and maybe where these books came from would be something that you should know. Answer: No, I think it was a wonderful gesture, and I didn’t concern myself with where they came from.

That was your testimony, wasn’t it, Mr. Buckingham?

A. I believe Larry Snoke was asking where the money came from, not where the books came from, and that was why I answered that that way. And the rest of it is my testimony, yes.

Q. Well, when I asked you, why didn’t you ask where it came from, and you said, didn’t want to know, what you really meant to say was that you knew where it came from. That was the right answer there, wasn’t it? That was the correct answer?

A. I didn’t know who donated the cash. I knew they were in a certain building when they put it in the box, but I don’t know who put the cash in the box.

Q. You knew that I was seeking that —

A. In the mailbox.

Q. You knew that I was seeking that information when I asked you those questions on January 3rd, and you didn’t give me the — you didn’t tell me anything about donations being taken — a collection being taken at your church. Isn’t that correct?

A. I didn’t consider it a collection. I didn’t ask for it. They just did it because there was a need there. I didn’t ask them for it.

Q. Mr. Buckingham, you lied to me at your deposition on January 3rd, 2005. Isn’t that true?

A. How so?

Q. By not telling me, when I asked you those questions, that you knew that a collection had been taken at your church for the book Of Pandas and People.

A. I did not take a collection.

Q. Well, you wrote the check to Donald Bonsell, didn’t you?

A. Yes, I did.

Q. And you didn’t tell me that you knew that — anything about Mr. Bonsell, did you?

A. I don’t recall if I did or not.

Q. Well, we just read your testimony. You didn’t say anything about Donald Bonsell in that testimony, did you? Do you want to go back and look at it?

A. Well, there’s more testimony than that. I don’t know if I referenced him anyplace else in it or not.

Q. Well, when I was asking you about where the donation of Of Pandas and People came from, you didn’t mention anything about Donald Bonsell, did you? Do we need to relook at your testimony again?

A. I’d like to, yes.

Q. Okay. Let’s do that. January 3, Page 57, Line 9. Let me read it to you again, Mr. Buckingham, and you tell me if I’ve got it right.

Question: The school district received a number of copies of the book Pandas and People. Correct? Answer: Yes. Question: Do you know how many copies? Answer: I’ve been told there were 60. I haven’t seen them. Question: Do you know where that came from, who donated them? Answer: No, I don’t. Question: You have no idea? Answer: I have thoughts, but I don’t know. Question: What are your thoughts? Answer: I think it could have a tie to Alan Bonsell who was board president at the time. Question: Why do you think — I know you’re not saying it was, but why do you think it might have ties to Mr. Bonsell? Answer: Because he was the president of the board at that time, and I just deduced from that that. Did I read that correctly?

A. Yes, you did.

Q. No reference to Donald Bonsell in there. Right?

A. No, there wasn’t.

Q. You should have told me about that at the time, shouldn’t you, to be truthful?

A. I thought I answered the question the way you asked it. Money was given to Alan Bonsell to forward to someone, turning out to be his father, that it was going to go someplace else. I don’t —

Q. Well, you knew that it was being given to Donald Bonsell because you wrote his name on the check?

A. That’s true.

And in that same vein, here’s the text from the testimony of board president Alan Bonsell, when Judge Jones interrupted the attorneys to question Bonsell himself on why he had clearly perjured himself with regard to that check and where the funds came from to purchase those copies of Pandas:

BY THE COURT:

Q. When did you first become aware of the fact that your father was in possession of the $850.00 that was being donated to buy Of Pandas and People?

A. Well, Mr. Buckingham gave the check to me to pass to my father. He said this was money that he collected for donations to the book. So I gave it to him.

Q. So you were the conduit —

A. Yeah.

Q. — by which your father received the $850.00?

A. Yes.

Q. Tell me why, in January of 2005, you didn’t tell Mr. Rothschild on his repeated questioning that your — that Mr. Buckingham was involved in that exchange?

A. Basically because I understood the question to be, who donated the books? Do you know anybody that donated? I only knew my father was the one that donated the books. I am still to this day convinced, you know, that Mr. Buckingham didn’t give any money towards the books.

He said to me, this is money that he collected towards the books. And I didn’t ask him. You know, he didn’t say — if he would have said, some of this money is mine, or I put 50 bucks in the pot, or I did this, I would have told Mr. Rothschild at that time.

Q. The specific question was asked to you, sir: You have never spoken to anyone — anybody else who was involved with the donation? And your answer was, I don’t know the other people. That didn’t say, who donated? That said, who was involved with the donation?

A. Okay. I’m sorry. What —

Q. Why did you — I’m on page 16.

A. Okay.

Q. Line 9. That didn’t say, who donated? That said, who was involved in the donation? Now you tell me why you didn’t say Mr. Buckingham’s name.

A. Then I misspoke. Because I was still under — from behind — wait a second. I — well, I’m going back here — and so, yeah, that’s my fault, Your Honor, because that’s not — in that case, I would have — I should have said, Mr. Buckingham.

Q. Tell me again why you gave the money to your father. Why did you utilize your father as the ultimate recipient — not the ultimate recipient, but as a conduit for this money?

A. Why he was the conduit?

Q. You took the money from Mr. Buckingham, if I understand it. You turn it over to your father. Is that correct?

A. Yes. Yes, sir.

Q. Because the check was made specifically to your father. Why was your father involved?

A. He agreed to — he said that he would take it, I guess, off the table or whatever, because of seeing what was going on, and with Mrs. Callahan complaining at the board meetings not using funds or whatever.

Q. Why couldn’t you use Mr. Buckingham’s check? What was the difference?

A. My father was the one that agreed to do the books.

Q. I understand that.

A. And that basically anybody, you know, if somebody wanted to give money, they could give money to him. He just passed, you know —

Q. Now the way I understand it from Mr. Buckingham’s testimony, Mr. Buckingham stood up in front of his church. Mr. Buckingham, despite testimony which was somewhat confusing, obviously, apparently made a plea for funds for this book. Mr. Buckingham received in addition to, apparently, his own contribution funds, which totaled $850.00. Why couldn’t Mr. Buckingham’s check be used? Why did your father have to be involved?

A. I guess it could have been used, but put the thing is, the money was going to him, and he was purchasing the books. And I think it was basically, if somebody gave money, fine. If not, he was going to buy the books. He was going to do it himself.

Q. You don’t know why Mr. — in other words, you don’t know why Mr. Buckingham couldn’t just purchase the books directly? Is that what you’re telling me? Because I still haven’t heard an answer as to why your father — why the funds had to be paid first to Mr. Buckingham, why Mr. Buckingham couldn’t write a check. Why did he have to give the funds to your father? I still haven’t heard an answer.

A. I guess he wouldn’t have had to give the funds to my father. It’s just that he was — he had made — he had made the —

Q. Who’s he?

A. My father. He had made the — oh, I don’t know what word I’m looking for. He said that he would get — donate the books, you know. So basically, I guess, he asked — I guess you’re saying, Mr. Buckingham went before his church. He collected money —

Q. You were here. You heard Mr. Buckingham.

A. He collected the money. And just — because — he had the check, gave me the money, I gave it to my father.

Q. I still haven’t heard an answer from you as to why your father was the recipient of this money. Tell me why.

A. Because he’s the one that said he would donate the books.

Q. It wasn’t — the money did not belong to your father. It came from Mr. Buckingham. He didn’t donate the books. He received money from Mr. Buckingham that Mr. Buckingham received through donations from his church. Your father, unless I’m missing something, did not donate the books. He was the recipient of donated money and purchased the books.

A. No, but my father donated money towards the books. It’s just that people had given money, and if — basically, if no one had given a penny, my father would have bought all the books. So he must have went out and said, you know, if you want to give money, Mr. Bonsell is — and so that’s why the check is in his name, because the money was going to him. He was buying the books. So he did put money towards the books, and he would have bought all the books.

Q. Now you were under oath. You know you were under oath on January the 3rd of 2005, is that correct?

A. Yes.

Q. And your reason that you didn’t mention Mr. Buckingham’s name on January 3rd of 2005 is because you said you misspoke?

A. I was under the impression, Your Honor — I was under the impression — they were asking me who — do you know anybody else? I mean, because I’m the one that brought my father forward in the testimony. I said, it was my father. He was the only one that I knew that put money towards the books. Because, to be honest — I mean, truthfully, I did not know that Mr. Buckingham gave any money towards those books. I would have said that. I would have said that. Now like I said —

Q. You knew on January 3rd that Mr. Buckingham had possession of funds that he received from his church, didn’t you?

A. Not from his church, no.

Q. You knew that Mr. Buckingham had received funds, which he turned over to your father, from someplace?

A. Oh, yes.

Q. Do you have any explanation for why Mr. Buckingham in this same series of depositions in January of 2005 also failed to admit that he was involved in soliciting money for the purchasing of this book? Do you have any explanation for that?

A. Why he said he wouldn’t solicit money? I don’t know.

Q. Were you here for Mr. Buckingham’s testimony?

A. I heard part of it.

Q. Well, let me represent to you that Mr. Buckingham testified in June of 2005 in his deposition that he didn’t know where the money came from. Do you have any explanation for why that is?

A. I don’t have any explanation for that.

The whole thing reads like the Keystone Cops.

Comments

  1. #1 kehrsam
    December 30, 2006

    That is just painful to read. Why on earth would the defense team not make sure that their witnesses had read their own depositions? Why was there not a mock cross-examination prior to this?

    I confess that I know little of the trial details, but this evidence seems to suggest that the defense did not exercize due dilligence on behalf of their client. Is it possible that Dover’s insurance carrier severely limited the defense budget?

  2. #2 Roger
    December 30, 2006

    Everytime I read this testimony about the collection of the money I am infuriated that someone who calls themselves Christian would lie under oath about the collection of the money. The questions at the deposition and trial were clearly about the process and the people who gave the donation. Just as clearly the so-called church people lied and obfuscated until they were faced with their cancelled checks. Whatever Christ they profess to follow is not the same one that I learned about in church, Sunday School, scripture or any other Christian proclamation.

    Unfortunately I’ve seen this attitude before – because I’m doing it for the church it’s o.k. – and I find it detestable whenever it happens.

  3. #3 Reed A. Cartwright
    December 30, 2006

    Dover voided it’s insurance policy when they opted to go with the TMLC instead of their official law firm. The insurance company and the local lawyers would have been smart enough to never let this go to trial. Good thing for us that the TMLC actually believed the DI’s propaganda and had no idea how bad the case for ID was.

  4. #4 mark
    December 30, 2006

    I don’t think Dover’s insurance carrier imposed any limits–the Sword and Shield of People of Faith provided their services free, delighted that they could have a chance for a grand legal victory over the evil Darwinists.

    For the most part, I think these guys were obfuscating and trying to avoid giving truthful, embarrassing, self-incriminating answers:

    A. I didn’t see where it was relevant.
    Q. Well, actually, you wanted to hide that information. Isn’t that true, Mr. Buckingham?
    A. No. If someone would have asked me if it came from the church, the people at the church, I would have told them it did, but it never came up.

    In the period leading up to the trial (including the giving of depositions), I think they were in large part parroting information gleaned from proponents of intelligent design (with some local creationist materials mixed in) because they just wanted something to justify teaching their religious version of biology. Buckingham was asked why, if they were incorrectly reported, he never corrected the statements attributed to him that appeared in both local papers–both of which were delivered to his house. (He responded that he did not read either paper.)

    Buckingham later blamed his incoherence and contradictory statements on medication he was taking for back pain.

  5. #5 Paige
    December 30, 2006

    One gets the impression that they were coached to hide the truth as much as possible — or to be more blunt, they were coached to lie.

    But Ed makes a good point about morons like these people serving on school boards. The whole exchange should be mandatory reading for all school boards — and all voters.

  6. #6 David C. Brayton
    December 30, 2006

    I once prepped a client for his deposition. At the time, I’d known the man for several years and he is a very bright guy with an Ivy League MBA, and a high level, high paying job. We discussed the importance of giving truthful testimony, paying close attention to the questions.

    He gets in the depo and the only thing he says is: “I don’t recall.” He thought he was playing it smart. We ended up settling that suit for a good chunk of change when we should have prevailed because of his “smart” testimony.

    Of course, I’m chastises for letting the witness do dumb things. That stupid client didn’t even get it when I interrupted the depo, took him outside and told him that this won’t work.

    A lot of ‘smart’ people have a huge ego and they think they are in control of the situation.

    But cross examination is a brutally effective tool for getting at the truth. It is almost impossible to underestimate your task if you are ever called to testify.

    The most unsettling thing about the Dover school board was that other members of the school board either were never called to testify at trial (or did so only briefly) because they completely and utterly abdicated their responsibility regarding the school curriculum. They simply had no useful information regarding this issue because they didn’t get involved. They rubber stamped Buckingham’s decision with nary a question.

    If there was a crime of being a negligent school board member, the others would be serving life sentences.

  7. #7 SLC
    December 30, 2006

    Re Bonsalls’ lies

    Judges don’t like it when witnesses come into to their courtroom, take an oath to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth and then lie on the witness stand. When this happens, judges tend to take it out on the attorneys for the offending party. It is not suprising then that Judge Jones was so harsh on the defendents in his decision. A couple of examples in high profile cases include Judge Ito sticking it to Marsha Clark for putting lying witness Mark Fuhrman on the stand and Judge Ruckriegle sticking it to Mark Hurlburt for putting lying witness Kathrine Faber on the witness stand.

  8. #8 Ed Darrell
    December 30, 2006

    This demonstrates so clearly what I think are the most corrosive effects of creationism: Creationism leads otherwise good Christians to high levels of deception — here, perjury in federal court — in order to avoid telling the truth, in order to maintain falsehoods, or just to hide the fact that they didn’t know what they were talking about.

    In Christian scripture, Jesus warns about those who turn the righteous away from righteousness. He’s not happy about it. This transcript clearly shows the evil influences of creationism at work.

    And the creationists all issue a denial, then they all say, “Amen.”

  9. #9 mark
    December 30, 2006

    I can’t imagine Buckingham felt he was in control on the witness stand. He’s the guy who agreed to meet a reporter, and afterwards claimed he was “ambushed” in the parking lot and “like a deer in the headlights” because he let slip the “C” word. And that was funny, too, because it was just like a scene out of The Simpson’s where Homer thinks, “Don’t say Creationism…Don’t say Creationism” and then ejaculates: “Creationism!” (Buckingham actually claimed he was thinking “Don’t say Creationism.”)

  10. #10 J-Dog
    January 2, 2007

    I am looking forward to this scene in the upcoming movie!
    I think Donald Rumsfield should play the part of Buckingham.

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