University of Virginia

Legal skirmishing continues in the effort of the global warming denial machine to obtain 12,000 emails sent and received by paleoclimatologist Michael Mann when he was at the University of Virginia. Now that the Virginia Supreme Court has tossed out Attorney General Cuccinelli’s inquisition, next up is the American Tradition Institute’s demand for the same documents using the state’s Freedom of Information Act.

The Washington Post’s Northern Virginia blog reported on March 21:

…U.Va. apparently has already given the 12,000 e-mails to Mann himself, though he left Charlottesville years ago. The American Tradition Institute, the conservative group hoping to show that climate change scientists like Mann manipulated their data, argues that U.Va. can’t give the e-mails to one person and not another. By giving the emails to Mann, the university has waived any exemptions they’re claiming to the state Freedom of Information Act, ATI says. …

“I would agree with that,” said Megan Rhyne, executive director of the Virginia Coalition for Open Government. “Once you turn it over in one venue, you’re deciding to give it out.”

Kevin Goldberg, a First Amendment and FOIA lawyer in Arlington, said, “I can see that the balance is now tipped in [ATI’s] favor. Now it’s up to the University to prove they can still withhold the material.”

But Mann thoroughly disagrees, as do his lawyers.

“I’m a bit surprised that anyone professing to be familiar with the law would believe that [ATI’s] argument has any merit at all,” Mann said Tuesday in an e-mail. “I am not a lawyer, but I have legal experts advising me on this matter, and they say the matter is quite clear: There is no waiver where the parties have a common interest in the documents, including a shared copyright interest and a shared proprietary interest in protecting your scholarly works under the scholarly works exemption to FOIA statute. If the records were not my emails it would be a different story. Of course, the records are my emails. ATI’s argument is way off-base and, indeed, quite disingenuous.”

So the stage is set.

The case is scheduled for argument on April 16 in Manassas. …

[Full text of the article is here.]

Earlier posts:
Virginia Supreme Court tosses out AG Cuccinelli inquisition on Michael Mann

Climate Science Legal Defense Fund: Support Michael Mann

Letter calling on Univ. of Virginia to prevent inappropriate open records disclosure of climate scientists’ exempt emails and documents [Union of Concerned Scientists, American Association of University Professors, American Geophysical Union, Climate Science Watch]

In defense of academic freedom against denialist FOIA inquisition tactics [Letter to University of Virginia President Sullivan from American Association of University professors, Virginia ACLU, Union of Concerned Scientists, and nine other groups, including Climate Science Watch]

Here’s a good video for the record, resurrected by Peter Sinclair at Climate Denial Crock of the Week.  Mann’s testimony on his research, at a hearing held by the House Energy and Commerce Committee in July 2006.

Links to various interviews – print, audio, and video – on Mann’s website.