Split Court Decision for Michael Mann in Global Warming Legal Battle
Virginia Supreme Court renders a verdict that permits continued suppression of evidence in the Michael Mann ‘hockey stick’ graph controversy – but only just. One dissenting judge scuppers the climatologist’s hopes of yet another global warming whitewash and skeptics remain upbeat.
The latest decision (March 2, 2012) in the Cuccinelli vs. University of Virginia. (UVa) case determines that the university is not a “person” subject to a “Civil Investigative Demand” (CID) from the attorney general. This means UVa won’t have to hand over Michael Mann’s Climategate e-mails and documents to Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (at least – not for now).
With Justice McClanahan dissenting on the “with prejudice” issue this is not the 'get out of jail free' card that Michael Mann hoped for.
Legal Precedents May Assist Attorney General’s Gambit
Legal analysts will read with interest dissenting McClanahan’s opinion that affirms Cuccinelli was correct on the point that UVa is not exempt from the Attorney General's authority to issue CIDs pursuant to Code § 8.01-216.10. As such Justice McClanahan believes the taxpayers’ champion, Cuccinelli, was authorized to issue CIDs to UVa. This offers Cuccinelli some wriggle room to mount a legal challenge on the basis that the 'with prejudice' component of the decision may be viewed as:
Excessively heavy-handed and thus contrary to the best interests of justice i.e. Cuccinelli should reasonably be permitted to amend and perfect his CID. Thus he might overcome the issue that his original submission "did not sufficiently state what the Attorney General suspected Dr. Mann did that was "false or fraudulent" in violation of Code § 8.01-216.3(A)"
Falling foul of recent “personhood” case law, particularly as to its applicability to organizations and corporations. Cuccinelli may find some joy here by applying Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 08-205 (2010), 558 U.S. ––––, 130 S.Ct. 876 (January 21, 2010).
Many with legal training in the skeptic camp may deem the ruling to be politically motivated (see from page 5 for the “Person” analysis in the opinion).
Focus Shifts Inexorably to Canada Court Case
So while we may rue a battle victory to Mann the war goes on. If Cuccinelli fails to resurrect his case in Virginia this will mean supporters of transparency and accountability in climate science will turn their attention to events in the Supreme Court of British Columbia (Vancouver).
It is there that Dr. Mann is fairing less well in his libel suit against Canada's ever-popular skeptic climatologist, Tim Ball. Dr. Ball’s legal team is correctly demanding the full disclosure of this very same hidden evidence. As Mann is the complainant – and B.C. jurisdiction provides Ball the right to motion for full disclosure – it is far trickier for Mann to hide his numbers here.
With great confidence that Ball’s jibe that Mann “belongs in the state pen, not Penn State” will be shown to be accurate, some of us have literally bet the farm that Mann will lose. Thus mishaps in Virginia won’t necessarily delay Mann’s ultimate downfall. So please donate to Tim Ball’s legal fund today.
John O’Sullivan is Legal Counsel and Co-founder and Coordinator of Principia Scientific International