Status Update on UVA/Mann FOIA legal fight

From ATI, Dr. David Schnare

It appears UVA gave Michael Mann a copy of the documents we have sought and under law this means UVA waived its right to withhold the documents from us. UVA effectively admitted they gave the emails to Mann and in their most recent motion and legal memorandum  they argue we are trying to do an “end run” to obtain them from Mann instead of UVA.  In light of UVA’s delaying tactics and on the basis of this new information, we are going on the attack.   Hence our motion and memorandum of law.We ask the court to find that UVA waived their right to keep the emails secret and ask the court to order UVA to hand them over to us.

Keep in mind, UVA calls these documents “proprietary” and thus something they don’t want their competitors to have. But who is Michael Mann and Penn State if he and his university are not UVA’s competitors?  He and Penn State compete for research grants, quality students and quality faculty. These are exactly the people and institutions against whom UVA has a right to withhold its emails (if they actually contained economically valuable information).

BACKGROUND 

Many have asked us about the status of the law suit against the University of Virginia challenging their withholding of 12,000 emails written or received by Michael Mann while he was a junior faculty member there. Because the University has taken every step it could to delay this getting to the judge, it has taken a long time to get where we are and will take several months more.

Full report here

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35 thoughts on “Status Update on UVA/Mann FOIA legal fight

  1. I’m glad you are pursuing these emails, and I wouldn’t dispute the legal analysis, but I don’t see why if someone voluntarily gives documents to someone, why that should void their right to privacy. Privacy isn’t just for a single individual alone. Sometimes groups of individuals need privacy against outsiders. Couples are a clear example. I don’t think anyone would contend that couples should lose their right to privacy in their bedroom just because they go at it together rather than alone. Just because you give up some of your right to privacy to one person doesn’t mean you should lose it all together.

    On the other hand, taxpayers are under no obligation to give money for research and email systems without the right to view and audit all the work produced.

  2. Note the common thread in this post and the following post on McIntyre’s investigation of obfuscation by the University of East Anglia

    These enablers of scientific fraud and deceit (some universities, journals, even some government agencies) are starting to sense that the wheels are coming off the gravy train, and they’ll go to great lengths to keep the gravy flowing

  3. Notice the common thread in this post and the following covering McIntyre’s analysis of the obfuscations in the UEast Anglia “inquiries”

    The enablers of non-scientific work and FOIA stonewalling (some universities, journals, and some government agencies) are beginning to sense that the wheels are coming off the gravy train — and they will go to great lengths to keep the gravy flowing.

    Cui bono? “Follow the money”

  4. This is weird.

    Does this mean that UVA must maintain the emails as secret from the very person who wrote the emails in the first place?

  5. I understand why Mann is scared of them becoming public. However UVA is not Mann. Their fear can only be because they think there is fire in those emails, and it will besmirch their reputation.

  6. Yet another brick out of the dam.
    It’ll still take some time but eventually the whole thing will collapse.

  7. Who is the author of this post? Anthony? Another entity?

    Nice to see things moving in the right direction.

  8. MindBuilder says:
    February 6, 2012 at 11:32 am

    I’m glad you are pursuing these emails, and I wouldn’t dispute the legal analysis, but I don’t see why if someone voluntarily gives documents to someone, why that should void their right to privacy. Privacy isn’t just for a single individual alone. Sometimes groups of individuals need privacy against outsiders. Couples are a clear example. I don’t think anyone would contend that couples should lose their right to privacy in their bedroom just because they go at it together rather than alone. Just because you give up some of your right to privacy to one person doesn’t mean you should lose it all together.

    On the other hand, taxpayers are under no obligation to give money for research and email systems without the right to view and audit all the work produced.
    Hi .Are you sure ???

  9. Phil, it’s possible that UVA is worried that they may have to give Mann’s grant money back, if he is convicted of research fraud while a member of their faculty.

    As I see it, though, there is prima facie evidence of fraud in Mann’s own ‘back to 1400 CENSORED’ directory. Steve McIntyre has a copy of that, and I don’t see why that directory is not subpoenaed. The emails are a side-light. Emails may show conspiracy. The contents of that directory will establish the fact. Following that evidence in hand, Mann’s original code, in full, would legitimately be then subject to subpoena as well.

  10. I am a bit surprised that the members of academia are so resistant, this is not an issue of intellectual freedom, it is a question of whether or not communications that occurred while a member of an arm of the state of Virgina are to be accessible to the people. Even if you are a a supporter of AGW, I would think that you would want this information released, because somewhere at some time you have to know the shoe will be on the other foot.

    To me the answer is simple, protect privacy of people, not that of big mega billion dollar institutions that seek to do business in the dark. This University, along with Penn State, should be ashamed of itself, because what they hope to protect are public secrets.

  11. The more they delay, the more I get suspicious of what could be in those emails. And I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.

  12. Pat Frank says:
    February 6, 2012 at 3:18 pm
    Phil, it’s possible that UVA is worried that they may have to give Mann’s grant money back, if he is convicted of research fraud while a member of their faculty.

    As I see it, though, there is prima facie evidence of fraud in Mann’s own ‘back to 1400 CENSORED’ directory. Steve McIntyre has a copy of that, and I don’t see why that directory is not subpoenaed. The emails are a side-light. Emails may show conspiracy. The contents of that directory will establish the fact. Following that evidence in hand, Mann’s original code, in full, would legitimately be then subject to subpoena as well.

    What connection does that have to the UVA emails?

  13. Authors of corporate communication have no rights to the communications once they leave the corporation (unless specified explicitly in the employment contract both parties signed). So, if the university granted access to these communications, subject to a law suit and freedom of information request, to the author, they are admitting they are not that critical to the university and thus should be released. Of course a judge may interpret it differently, but as the university has already stretched the patience of the court, the judge may not be inclined to be benevolent to the defense. Of course plaintiffs can file whatever they want, in the end it is up to the judge.

  14. Indeed the house of cards is beginning to sway mightily. Look at the vast sums of political will and power being applied to continue the scam. Not too much more and the cards will be tumbling down on their heads.

    It seems paper cuts are very scary to the team…

  15. Phil ATI is after the emails because they suspect the emails contain evidence of scientific fraud and/or evidence of a conspiracy to commit fraud.

  16. LazyTeenager says:
    February 6, 2012 at 11:59 am

    This is weird.

    Does this mean that UVA must maintain the emails as secret from the very person who wrote the emails in the first place?

    Good question, Lazy. But rememember Mann saying he was the ONLY ONE who could understand what he wrote to people and what people wrote to him?

    If that isn’t the worst logic black hole I’ve ever heard of, I don’t know what is.

  17. I can’t imagine them fighting so hard over scientific misconduct. I suspect those emails have something more damning; like contract fraud that could lead to government sanctions on the university or commercial entanglements with green investors.

  18. Maybe certain climate research individuals and organizations should realize that they’re not expert lawyers.

  19. Jean Parisot says:
    February 6, 2012 at 6:52 pm
    I can’t imagine them fighting so hard over scientific misconduct. I suspect those emails have something more damning; like contract fraud that could lead to government sanctions on the university or commercial entanglements with green investors.

    ===========

    Good point. Let’s see the emails.

  20. I believe I can answer your question. Mindbuilder asked:

    “I’m glad you are pursuing these emails, and I wouldn’t dispute the legal analysis, but I don’t see why if someone voluntarily gives documents to someone, why that should void their right to privacy. Privacy isn’t just for a single individual alone. Sometimes groups of individuals need privacy against outsiders.”

    If you read the memorandum at law, you will see that it goes to great lengths to show that legally, Michael Mann has an adverse interest to the defense being made by UVA. That is the key claim in the memorandum. If Mann *does* have a legally defined adverse interest to UVA in this case then, as a matter of law, the right to privacy with respect to these documents was waived as soon as they were given to him. A plaintiff does not have the right to pick and choose who has an adverse interest to his case; it is a matter of strict and technical legal definition.

    The exact reason for the adverse interest is rather technical, and I’ll refer you to the memorandum if you want to see the reasoning. But this should explain the basis for the claim. If the Court agrees that Mann had an adverse interest to UVA in any aspect of this case, then UVA will have to drop its claim of privacy with respect to these documents.

    And let me also say that while I think they have made a very good case here, you can never guarantee what a judge will do. He may agree, or he may not, or he may find some way to kick the can down the road. It will be interesting to see which option he chooses.

  21. “Their fear can only be because they think there is fire in those emails, and it will besmirch their reputation.”

    I wouldn’t over do it here. It may well be the case that they’re standing up on a point of principle. Whether you agree with that principle or not (I don’t if they’re using tax-payers money) don’t assume that there’s always no smoke without fire. Sometimes there is :p.

  22. The whole way they are fighting tooth and nail to withhold the release of the emails smells like they have a lot to hide.Withholding scientific information is scientific FRAUD. Denying public access to information /research paid for with taxpayer dollars is TREASON . The emails, if they ever get released will be the World War 3 of climategate, an End – of – Days scenario where all is revealed with devastating political fallout. Can you imagine the anger that could be unleashed when suddenly the magic 10 % of the population (from there it will go viral) realizes the Great Fraud that the UN and politicians on both sides of the political divide have perpetrated on the human race. I am not a religious person, but the full scope of the plot really is the work of the DEVIL.

  23. If it’s “principle”, it’s principle with some specific fears motivating it. What else are they concerned will be subject to disclosure if this suit is successful? Here’s where we need input from all interested conspiracy theoryists!

  24. @jeff5778 – The COV is not spending money on principal, but on law enforcement. If every criminal walked into a police station and turned themselves in, then I guess there would be no need for investigations. As most criminals do not do that, I guess if we want effective law enforcement, we have to pay for investigations.

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