Judge hears Virginia AG Cuccinelli’s climate science ‘fraud’ case, will rule within 10 days


After hearing oral argument August 20 on the University of Virginia’s petition to block Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s document demands relating to research of former UVa climate scientist Michael Mann, Judge Peatross ruled that he would need more time to make a decision. One has to wonder how many Virginia voters are following this story and finding Cuccinelli’s anti-science inquisition offensive, or realizing how retrograde it makes their state look to have a right-wing prosecutorial zealot as Attorney General.

Post by Rick Piltz

As Kent Willis, executive director of the ACLU of Virginia, put it, “If the court permits the attorney general to gain access to the private communications among scientists whenever he disagrees with their ideas, the scientists will simply stop sharing their ideas. The chilling effect on academic freedom and scientific inquiry is incalculable.”

The Charlottesville (VA) Daily Progress reported August 20:

…During Friday’s hearing, attorneys for UVa and Cuccinelli reiterated their positions outlined in a series of briefs filed over the last several months. Cuccinelli has been trying to subpoena a mass of data, documents and correspondence relating to the research of Michael Mann in an attempt to investigate whether Mann violated Virginia’s Fraud Against Taxpayers Act by accepting $466,000 through four federal and one state research grants between 1999 and 2005.

Chuck Rosenberg, a Washington, D.C., attorney representing the university, said in court that Cuccinelli’s demand fails the statutory requirements of an investigation under the act — a statement of “the nature of the conduct constituting the alleged violation” and a “reason to believe” that UVa as the CID recipient has data about a violation of Virginia’s anti-fraud law.

The attorney said case law shows that would require “more than an intuition” of wrongdoing….

From the Washington Post’s August 21 coverage:

…“It’s frankly offensive to be attacked by a sitting attorney general in a state I know and love,’’ Mann said in a phone interview after the hearing. “These charges continue to be made by climate-change deniers. There is no grounds whatsoever for the claims they are making.” …

Mann worked at U-Va. from 1999 to 2005 and now works at Penn State.

“Calling scientific findings ‘fraudulent’ because you don’t agree with them is dangerous,’’ said Francesca Grifo, director of the Scientific Integrity Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Earlier CSW posts:

August 19: Univ. of Virginia protest against Cuccinelli climate scientist witch hunt August 20

May 28: University petitions court to quash Cuccinelli subpoena of climate scientist Michael Mann’s papers

May 21: Nine ways to undermine Virginia AG Cuccinelli’s McCarthyite demand for scientists’ communication

May 5: Free the Cuccinelli 40: Virginia AG demands e-mails of Michael Mann and 39 other scientists

July 6: Turning the tables: Virginia AG Cuccinelli under investigation for climate probe by Greenpeace

July 1: Interview with Michael Mann on the Penn State Final Report and the war on climate scientists

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