Climate Scientist Prevails in FOI Battle at UVA

Climate scientist Michael Mann reported Monday that he and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville have prevailed in a court case against the conservative American Tradition Institute (ATI), which had sought access to emails he wrote while serving as a professor at the school from 1999-2005.

Now at the Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Mann says the ruling supports the University of Virginia’s argument than an exemption to the state’s freedom-of-information law “applies to faculty communications in furtherance of their work”. The Prince William County Circuit Court ruling came directly from the bench in and was not immediately available online.

“This finding is a potentially important precedent, as ATI and other industry-backed front groups continue to press their attacks on climate scientist through the abuse of public records and FOIA laws and the issuing of frivolous and vexatious demands for internal scholarly deliberations and personal correspondences,” Mann said in an announcement on his Facebook page.

The University of Virginia initially signed an agreement with ATI that would have granted ATI officials access to the emails, but at a contentious hearing in November 2011 university officials changed course and decided to fight. At the same hearing, Mann prevailed in his effort to formally join the lawsuit and defend himself alongside the university (see Climate scientist wins his day in court).

More here.

Climategate Stops at the Virginia Supreme Court

Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli’s quest to obtain records from a noted climate scientist has been halted by state’s Supreme Court.

The court ruled that Cuccinelli did not have the authority to subpoena records from Michael Mann, one of climatologists who put together the “hockey stick graph,” which came under attack during the “climategate” scandal. Mann used to work at the University of Virginia, but now teaches at Penn State.

As we reported last May, the school already released a large cache of emails in response to a Freedom of Information Act request brought by a conservative climate organization.

The records Cuccinelli is looking for, however, are grant applications. The AP reports he is trying to prove that Mann “defrauded taxpayers by using manipulated data to obtain government grants.”

Mann has been vindicated by a variety of investigations, which sifted through the leaked emails and found Mann had not manipulated data in order to make the case in favor of climate change.

More coverage here

English: Attorney General of Virginia Ken Cucc...

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The Latest on Climategate FOI docs: UVA will lean on exemptions..

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I’d like to say, “Yeah, well, of course…”

University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan says the school plans to use “all available exemptions” under the state’s freedom of information act as it responds to a formal legal request from a conservative group seeking e-mails and documents written by a former university climate scientist.

The American Tradition Institute’s Environmental Law Center has askedthat the university turn over the documents related to the work of Michael Mann, a former U-Va. professor who now works at Pennsylvania State University.

They hoped that the public information request would force the university to turn over the same documents sought by Attorney Gen. Ken Cuccinelli (R) with a civil subpoena.

Cuccinelli is trying to force the university to turn over the documents because he says he wants to see whether a fraud investigation is warranted into Mann’s research, which has shown that the earth has experienced a rapid, recent warming.

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Climate FOI Requests Continue to Create Controversy

A coalition of advocacy groups has asked the University of Virginia to shield some climate change research papers sought under an open records request to the school earlier this year.

That appeal comes in an April 14 letter that urges university officials to balance “the interests in public disclosure against the public interest in academic freedom” in weighing the record request from the American Tradition Institute and others.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, the Union of Concerned scientists and the American Association of University Professors are among the interest groups that jointly issued the letter.

This dispute is the latest chapter of a saga that began when Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli demanded similar records from U.Va. in a subpoena-like order to the university seeking materials linked to the grant-funded research of former school professor Michael Mann, a scientist whose climate change conclusions have been alternately lauded and denounced.

His initial demand largely was rejected by a Circuit Court judge in August, through Cuccinelli has appealed that ruling to the state Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, a revised record demand from the attorney general that the university opposes is pending in circuit court.

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