Fired Florida Atlantic University professor James Tracy blasted a federal judge on Wednesday, a day after she rejected his request for a new trial on his claims that the school robbed him of his First Amendment rights by dismissing him for expressing his beliefs that the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre and other national tragedies never happened.
In a stinging rebuke of Tracy’s claims that a jury got it wrong, U.S. District Judge Robin Rosenberg on Tuesday ruled that ample evidence was presented during a December trial to support the panel’s decision that FAU fired the tenured professor for insubordination, not to punish him for his controversial views.
“The central premise in (Tracy’s) motion for new trial is that the jury’s verdict was against the great weight of the evidence,” Rosenberg wrote in a 31-page ruling. “This contention is without merit. Instead, the court concludes that the great weight of the evidence at trial was in favor of (FAU).”
University officials said they fired Tracy for repeatedly failing to submit a mandatory form, divulging his work on his blog, Memory Hole, the platform the communications professor used to espouse his view that the 2012 shooting of 26 children and teachers at the Newtown, Conn. school was a hoax.
Using that blog, Tracy on Wednesday published a transcript of an interview his attorney did with another professor, who shares Tracy’s belief about Sandy Hook. In the interview, Tracy’s attorney, Louis Leo IV, blamed Rosenberg for what he described as an unfair trial.
“I should start by saying that the reason Dr. Tracy lost in this trial is because of deception and fraud in the court, and it’s something that the court sanctioned, using the rules of evidence,” Leo said during the interview with retired University of Minnesota philosophy professor James Fetzer.
In his blog post, Tracy acknowledged Rosenberg’s rejection of his request for a new trial. He noted that he has already appealed the jury’s decision to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta and asked for donations to his legal defense fund.
In her ruling, Rosenberg firmly rejected Leo’s attempt to rehash decisions she made prior to the two-week-long trial. “That is improper argument,” she wrote.
Instead, she focused on evidence that, she claimed, justified the jury’s decision. She pointed out that college administrators endured a firestorm of hostility when news surfaced that Tracy was writing an online blog, contending that the Sandy Hook school shooting was staged by the government to spur gun control.
Even as angry phone calls and emails poured into the school, she said, administrators didn’t order Tracy to stop blogging. It wasn’t until 2015 — three years after news of Tracy’s Memory Hole blog surfaced — that school officials terminated him for refusing to fill out the form, divulging his outside activity.
“That the period of time running from (Tracy’s) most controversial blog posts about Sandy Hook to the time of (his) termination was three years — this time period calls into question the entire theory of (Tracy’s) case,” she wrote.
Further, she noted, FAU took no action against an instructor who was involved in the now infamous “Stomp On Jesus” exercise in an intercultural communications class on FAU’s Davie campus. While the instructor said it was designed to illustrate the power of words, it was widely viewed as an attack on Christianity.
“That controversy resulted in a police presence on campus,” Rosenberg wrote. “Yet, that professor was able to keep his job at FAU — there was no censorship.”
She also rejected Tracy’s claims that he had no obligation to tell university officials about his outside activity. Tracy was president of the faculty union that negotiated a contract, requiring professors to submit the form, she said.
After a year-long hiatus, Tracy reactivated his blog in March. Two weeks ago, he was back on FAU’s campus, delivering a two-hour lecture on the Central Intelligence Agency’s influence on mainstream media. His invitation came from political science professor Marshall DeRosa, who has called transgender activist and former athlete Caitlin Jenner a “freak of nature” and described “black supremacy” as a major factor in slavery, according to reports.
Tracy recently told a Palm Beach Post reporter that he has been unable to find work in academia. “I still enjoy researching and writing, and I would still enjoy teaching as well,” Tracy said.