Thursday, August 23, 2007

Judge Kravitz To Jon Stewart:

You Are
"A Model Of Civil Discourse"

The Cool Justice Report
Aug. 23, 2007

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story is available for reprint courtesy of The Cool Justice Report,

U.S. District Judge Mark Kravitz made that observation today while presiding over the Doninger civil rights case in New Haven.

Witness testimony this week has focused regularly on the slang meaning of douche bag, a term used now and then by Jon Stewart, host of Comedy Central's The Daily Show.

Today's definitions included "jerk, idiot, someone you don't like ... "

Besides entering the vernacular of teenagers and cops, douche bag has also been uttered on tv shows including The Family Guy, South Park and NYPD Blue.

Kravitz, in an understated drawl, made the observation during testimony by 17-year-old Avery Doninger, a student at Lewis Mills High School in Burlington. The judge's seemingly casual remarks to lawyers about the slow pace of the hearing have drawn friendly snickers from spectators.

Doninger, Secretary for the Class of 2008, was elected by write-in vote in May despite being removed from the ballot by Principal Karissa Niehoff and Superintendent Paula Schwartz. The school has refused to acknowledge her victory.

Schwartz and Niehoff disciplined Doninger after she and other student leaders lobbied taxpayers to secure a venue for Jamfest, a battle of the bands. In April -- after Niehoff and Schwartz canceled Jamfest -- Doninger made a posting from her home to a personal blog, referring to central office "douchebags" and seeking community support for the event.

Attorney Jon Schoenhorn of Hartford filed the civil rights action and is asking Kravitz to order the school superintendent and the principal to formally reinstate Doninger as Secretary of the Class of 2008.

Other testimony today focused on tampering of Doninger's personal file by Niehoff, Schwartz and school board lawyer Christine Chinni; and the banning of free speech t-shirts from an election assemby. Niehoff threatened not to count votes of students who shouted support for Doninger prior to the commencement of speeches by candidates.

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a brief -- written by Quinnipiac University Law School Professor Martin Margulies -- supporting Doninger.

No word yet from Stewart on whether he will accept Kravitz's nomination for the coveted title, "Model Of Civil Discourse."

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