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Judge releases ruling in case against U.Va.

Final opinion says Cuccinelli does not have strong enough evidence for civil investigative demand for papers

Attorney General and University alumnus Ken Cuccinelli's attempt to seek documents belonging to former University Prof. Michael Mann was nipped in the bud yesterday in an Albemarle County Circuit Court.

Cuccinelli had initially alleged that Mann's climate change research, which shows the steady escalation of the Earth's temperatures during the past two decades, was fraudulent in receiving funds from the state. Judge Paul M. Peatross, Jr. held that although Cuccinelli has the right to investigate state grants to professors such as Mann, he did not present sufficient evidence of any fraudulent conduct to substantiate a civil investigative demand.

The ruling prevented Cuccinelli from pursuing an investigation that would force Mann, now the director of the Penn State Earth and Science Center, to disclose more information surrounding the conduct of his research.

Peatross' ruling offered mixed messages for both sides of the case because although Cuccinelli's demand did not go forward, the ruling also stated that though the University is a public corporation created for purpose, it is a public institution and therefore "governed and controlled by the state." Consequently, the attorney general is permitted to investigate state grants to professors such as Mann, provided that Cuccinelli give specific conduct to investigate.

"According to the judge, Cuccinelli asserted that there was some reason to investigate without offering any facts to support it," University Law Prof. Richard Schragger said.

Peatross held that Cuccinelli does not have "unbridled discretion" to review professors and instead must found civil investigative demands on an "objective basis."\nIn turn, the ruling did not directly address issues of academic freedom, Schragger said, "because [Cuccinelli] did not even meet the minimum demand of investigative requirement."

Cuccinelli, who is skeptical about global warming, surmised that Mann's research was manipulated to receive grants. Mann, however, called the inquiry into his records "a fishing expedition," as "it was not clear what [Cuccinelli's] investigation was seeking."

The case attracted nationwide attention, with controversy arising as to just how much academic freedom is allowed to a professor. It generated a reaction from the Faculty Senate, the Board of Visitors, the American Association of University Professors, the Union of Concerned Scientists and the American Civil Liberties Union presented an amicus brief to the court.

A statement released by the University emphasized that the attorney general failed to support any allegation that Mann engaged in fraudulent conduct and that academic freedom should inform the propriety of an inquiry into the conduct of University faculty.

According to a press release, Cuccinelli said although the decision was not an outright ruling in his favor, he is pleased that the judge has agreed with his office on key legal points and has given him a framework for issuing a new demand. Cuccinelli also stated in the press release he has yet to decide whether to appeal part of the ruling.


Published August 31, 2010 in News









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Sean
(12/31/69 7:00pm)
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So the scientific method and methodology are to be kept secret now?

And the public needs to somehow be protected from data compiled and evaluated with public funds?

Hmm.. Why would that be?

It has long been true that politics often trumps science, and that many scientists put their politics way before their dedication to the scientific method. But it's still amazing how many scientists and academics at UVA are actually enthusiastic about turning back the clock and reversing the tradition of transparency and peer review in science. This is really scary stuff if you think about it. If you think this is a great idea (keeping data and methods secret), then just imagine if some supposedly earth shatteringly important discovery was made with public funds that supported a more conservative political viewpoint was given to you as fact that you must accept. then imagine that the scientific details were kept secret to the extent that not even a doubtful liberal Attorney General could review it. Get it?

This was not a case "against UVA." It was a request from the top cop in a state whose taxpayers funded this research to review the data and the process that produced the "hockey stick" graph while Mr. Mann was at UVA.\nThat top cop's intentions appear to be to find something amiss in the research - for largely political reasons one might add - but isn't it the Attorney General's job to make sure that public funds are not used to create fraudulent results?

As for the question as to whether he has any reason beyond his political beliefs to suspect that things were not done in an honest and transparent way, I give you two things to consider:

First, the opinion of one of his colleagues and a co author of Mr. Mann who worked with him at the IPCC:

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100018173/climategate-sack-no-longer-credible-michael-mann-from-ipcc-urges-climatologist/

Second, from the now infamous (and stolen) East Anglia emails:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/globalwarming/6636563/University-of-East-Anglia-emails-the-most-contentious-quotes.html

From Phil Jones To: Michael Mann (Pennsylvania State University). July 8, 2004

"I can't see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow



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