Mann’s emails to be subject of state supreme court case

You have to wonder what he’s got in those emails to be fighting so hard to keep people from seeing the supposedly mundane details of research.

Prince William FOIA case on global warming headed for Virginia Supreme Court

The fight by a conservative legal group and Del. Robert Marshall (R-Prince William) to obtain the e-mails written by leading climate change scientist Michael E. Mann while he was at the University of Virginia was shot down by a judge in Prince William County last year. But Marshall and the legal group appealed, and the Virginia Supreme Court has agreed to take the case and rule on whether the state’s Freedom of Information Act exempts unpublished academic research from being disclosed to the public, even after it’s been concluded or has been released elsewhere.

Richard C. Kast and Madelyn F. Wessel, U.Va.’s lawyers, argued that Judge Sheridan got it right when he ruled that the university had properly interpreted FOIA. They acknowledged that there was no judicial precedent on the FOIA exemption, but that “the policy of open government under the act is not ‘absolute,’” citing more than 100 exemptions in Virginia’s FOIA law. They noted that the Institute and Marshall challenge the judge’s interpretation of “proprietary,” but that the conservatives “offer no alternative definition or explanation as to why the plain meaning of the term should not apply.” Plain meaning, in U.Va.’s view, being “a thing or property owned or in the possession of one who manages and controls them.”

Mann said in an e-mail to me [the WaPo writer] that “I believe Judge Sheridan’s ruling protecting faculty research correspondence is correct and is precisely what Sen. Thomas Michie intended when he proposed his legislation to amend Virginia’s FOIA law and the legislature enacted in 1984 to enhance the ability of Virginia’s public colleges and university’s to protect the scholarly research endeavor.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/local/wp/2013/10/09/prince-william-foia-case-on-global-warming-headed-for-virginia-supreme-court/

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58 thoughts on “Mann’s emails to be subject of state supreme court case

  1. You have to wonder what he’s got in those emails to be fighting so hard to keep people from seeing the supposedly mundane details of research.

    At this point an open admission of fraud in the emails would not astonish me.

  2. Since his paranoia makes him think that the lawsuit is funded with dirty Koch money it’s not like he thinks he’d benefit from draining their resources by keeping them entangled in the legal system. So scared of things to come to light is the most likely thing.

  3. …conservatives “offer no alternative definition or explanation as to why the plain meaning of the term (proprietary) should not apply.”

    It should not apply because public tax dollars paid for everything: Mann’s computer, the University of Virginia’s servers, and the University of Virginia as well. They also paid Mann’s salary and the salaries other climastrologists who very likely have perpetuated a decades long fraud on taxpayers around the world.

    This is precisely the kind of activity FOIA laws were enacted to protect taxpayers against.

  4. Two Stanford profs rated the VA Supreme Court as “18th most conservative”, which would if accurate put it in the top of the middle third of state SCs (1-17, 18-33, 34-50).

    http://judgepedia.org/index.php/Supreme_Court_of_Virginia

    Not sure if protecting emails of a public employee as protected privacy & freedom of speech vs. the people’s right to know what their workers are up to is a conservative or liberal issue, however. Hard to keep personal opinions about CACA out of the decision matrix, however, IMO.

  5. It appears that “freedom of information” is just another Orwellian Newspeak term given the constant losing battle for the people to see what they have purchased with their tax dollars. It’s pathetic and sad how far this case this has gone. Shame on the university, shame on Mann shame on the court. They show nothing but contempt when they treat tax payers as indentured labour and slaves without rights.

  6. The reasons he does not want the emails exposed must be one of more of the following:

    1. They are full of obviousy bad science which he discusses with his pals (as in reviewers).

    2. They reveal him as the vindictive, petty little **** that he is.

    3. He is swapping porn with his pals.

    There cannot be anything in these emails of commercial or strategic value, so why should he have any reason to hide them unless it is one or more of the above?

  7. If his immature behavior on Twitter is anything to go by, his emails which he thinks are private must be a treasure trove of BS [bad science]

  8. If there’s nothing to hide, release it voluntarily. That would go a long way toward restoring whatever credibility Mann has left.
    If he was trying to protect a patent on the hockey sticks or CO2…but he’s not. All this legal finagling sounds like Lois Lerner pleading the fifth after stating she was innocent.

  9. I guess that part of his problem is that he is not sure want are in the e-mails in the first place . So cannot afford to take the risk of people seeing any ‘dirty launder’ he may have left behind .

    That he is a nasty little so and so and is disliked by many on his own side , does suggest that there will at least lots of personnel stuff in there , that he rather others did not see. So If it does come out its full of bad science too , and with Mann is there another type , is will be a bonus.

  10. I currently work with a lot of “proprietary” information. The definition we use reflects the OSHA definition of “Trade Secret”: any confidential formula, pattern, process, device, information, or compilation of information used in a business that gives the business an advantage over competitors who do not know or use it. [29 CFR 1900.1200, Appendix D]
    Since Mann’s work was funded by the People of the Commonwealth of Virginia rather than a business (so the Commonwealth ‘owns’ the work and the information), and there are no relevant ‘competitors’ in ‘climate science’, it is a mystery to me how the products of his work at UVA can be considered ‘proprietary.’

  11. The money that paid for everything was spent in order for the professor to do research and any emails that concern that researchcannot possib ly have been intended to be interpreted as “private correspondance.” Personal privacy has no place in scientific research, since the research is obviously not intended to be someone’s private property.

  12. Mardler:

    At October 9, 2013 at 11:55 am you say

    I’m not holding my breath. The outcome won’t be good for anyone other than Mann.

    OK, I will bite.

    Dr Mann is going to extreme lengths to avoid complying with a FOIA request for him to release the contents of the emails. If the emails contain information which would benefit him if disclosed then Dr Mann would be likely to disclose it. And if the emails contain nothing that Dr Mann wants to hide then he would be unlikely to be expending such large amounts of time, money and effort in trying to hide it.

    There are only two possible outcomes. Either Dr Mann will be forced to comply with the FOIA request for him to release the emails or it will be ruled that he need not so comply.

    If he manages to avoid the FOIA request then he will have placed himself under the permanent suspicion that he has something he wants to hide. If he fails to avoid the FOIA request then he will have wasted all that time, money and effort whether or not he has anything to hide.

    Hence, I do not understand how the outcome can only be good for Dr Mann. Please explain.

    Richard

  13. I think Mardler has the right of it. Don’t gloat and crow. Regardless of the type of case, the courts tend to view the position of the ‘state’ with deference. I have dealt with it many, many times as an expert witness on behalf of many clients. In such cases, the judges will hear compelling arguments from both sides and they tend to take the attitude: “The State (in this case the state university) has no particular stake in this, but the other side does. I will bias my opinion and lend more credence toward the side without a vested interest – i.e., the most dispassionate.”

    It’s not a question of which side in fact DOES have a greater vested interest. I have seen courts rule pursuant to the government deference principal on cases I thought, naively at the time, were cut and dried on my side’s favor. ….. WRONG!!!

    And if you think ad hominem attacks have been used outrageously so far, the other side’s argument in this case will try to make us all look like vindictive, anti-science, shills for industry to prejudice the judges into thinking we DO have a vested interest and the state doesn’t.

    In brief – don’t count your chickens.

  14. Can we take up a collection for NSA contractors and recently retired IRS operatives at this point?

  15. “It should not apply because public tax dollars paid for everything”

    This, and also the fact that his deliberations and his ‘scientific research’ have had – and continue to have – a direct effect on public policy worldwide.

    It is therefore in everyone’s interest to see how his conclusions were arrived at (saving his own, clearly). There can be no property rights in publicly funded research which is used for international policy making

  16. Bloke down the pub says:

    October 9, 2013 at 10:35 am
    Or else he’s leading everyone on a wild goose chase.

    At the cost so far that has to be the goose that laid the golden email.

  17. richardscourtney says:
    October 9, 2013 at 12:14 pm
    —-
    Regarding Mardler

    I’m not holding my breath. The outcome won’t be good for anyone other than Mann.

    I took his post to mean that he doubts that the Virginia Supreme Court will rule that Mann’s emails are subject to FOIA and must be turned over.

  18. BTW – as a follow up to my previous comment. Ask yourselves: If the courts ruled according to what WE in the public think is black and white, why are soooo many companies and insurers and municipalities so anxious to settle a claim out of court? It is because the rulings of the courts are VERY unpredictable and will turn on the smallest bit of evidence or clause in a law. I have represented many clients in the legal arena and have had relatively few actually go to court where I testified (still a bit, but relatively few), because BOTH sides would rather settle than risk an unfavorable ruling no matter how strong they think there case is.

    In this instance, the case is going to be heard, but the outcome is anybody’s guess.

  19. Mark Bofill: I also think that Mardler means that Mann will likely win, but that the court will insert some ambiguous clauses in its ruling which will cause the legislature to either tighten definitions or expand on exceptions or some such modification to the existing law. When a ruling causes legislatures to change laws, no-one benefits. It’s how we end up with convoluted laws which every person looks at and asks: How did we end up with THAT law?

    No-one else will win because, as Jefferson stated: Government governs best, that governs least. Adding new clauses to existing laws to countervail court rulings results in governments governing more.

  20. Tom,

    Government governs best, that governs least.

    Won’t catch me arguing against that. :)

    I can’t speak to the rest of your post, except to say it sounds plausible to me, but I wouldn’t really know.

  21. First and please correct me if I’m wrong here, Mann does not have a dog in this fight does he? Whilst the mails requested are from him the foi requests were always to his previous employer no? It’s they who continue to spend vast amounts of public money to avoid releasing information that belongs in the public domain if requested.
    I don’t think Mann could release these mail even should he want to.

    Second, how can anything in the mails be ‘proprietary’? It seems to me that the University feels that there is something in there which might have commercial value. After all of this time I doubt it however it also confuses me how public funded state schools can be allowed to be profit-minded.

    My feeling is that this obfuscation and denial is likely sanctioned by people powerful enough to do so. The same people whose livelihood’s and reputations could be at stake were we to get a true look into the mind and method of Dr Mann. I don’t see how it could be otherwise or surely someone in public office, holding the purse strings, would balk at so much public money being spent defending against this action over a matter so seemingly trivial? I’m sure this will be allowed to go on until there is no more will or funds for Marshall and the Institute to continue.

  22. By Tom Jackman in the WaPo, Published: WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 09, 5:00 AM ET

    “. . .

    . . . But Marshall and the legal group appealed, and the Virginia Supreme Court has agreed to take the case and rule on whether the state’s Freedom of Information Act exempts unpublished academic research from being disclosed to the public, even after it’s been concluded or has been released elsewhere.

    . . .

    Schnare wrote recently that “when citizens seek public records of state university professors, Freedom of Information rights can collide with the creative academic process.” He said that a Virginia Supreme Court justice asked during his attempt to get the case heard “how to ensure the former while protecting the latter. This is an issue of first impression across this nation and it deserves a utilitarian answer.

    . . .

    . . . And the decision to take the case again opened up the possibility of an important ruling on what material produced by “government employees on government property using government facilities for government purposes,” as Sheridan wrote, is available for public review.”

    – – – – – – – – –

    How about one year? One year after the research has concluded then FOIA applies to releasing the material produced by “government employees on government property using government facilities for government purposes”.

    The year is long since up. Come on Va Supreme Court, justice for taxpayers funding scientists is a simple concept. Release the material.

    John

  23. Its right that people want to see what they get for their tax money. But Mann is only a tiny fish in a big climate pond.

    The real question is what did we get for the more than $100Bn worldwide ‘invested’ around the world in climate studies.

    It seems that our knowledge is barely increased since this firehose of cash was turned on.

    What did they do with it all?

  24. Nothing could be stronger proof of something to hide than fighting so hard to keep it from being disclosed. Mann, you will be found out.

  25. Can the court/judges ask to read the emails during the course of the proceedings?? That would certainly tighten up a sphincter or two I’d suspect….

  26. I wish someone at the University had the necessary gumption to fish out those e-mails and simply release them.

    If Mann believes in what he has, he should stand by it proudly and show the world. Perhaps one of his followers – you know, someone who really believes – will think so too, and do it for him.

    Too much to hope for…? Oh, well.

  27. Tom G(ologist) says:

    When a ruling causes legislatures to change laws, no-one benefits. It’s how we end up with convoluted laws which every person looks at and asks: How did we end up with THAT law?

    I think that lawyers have a truism for this. Goes like:

    “Bad cases make in bad laws”

  28. It will also depend on whether the CAGW scam is at its tail end and it is decided to toss Mann to the dogs to divert attention from his masters.

  29. ““government employees on government property using government facilities for government purposes” — Quote from John Whitman

    ‘For government purposes’ is really the crux of it. Essentially it comes down to the idea that either government paid for the research, and so it is theirs, which satsifies ‘purposes.’ Or the idea that government research grants are Food Stamps for Philosophers.

  30. Don’t forget about the National Review and Mark Steyn’s defense in the defamation lawsuit launched by Mann. The defense will be entitled to discovery. He may have to cough them up anyway or drop the lawsuit. If there is a trial, all discovery data becomes part of the evidence.

  31. I think Paul W is right. The National Review and Steyn case will be the one to look out for because of the right to discovery.
    In that particular action Mann has everything to lose: discovery will hopefully reveal his email shenanigans to the world, or he’ll drop the case and we can all infer that he’s worried about his emails being seen because they are so incriminating.

  32. I would bet serious money that the collusion to produce the hockey stick is detailed to the point of who, when, and where the money trail leads, back and forth emails to the puppet masters and or their discussion as to how to control the media or peer review process, from the early start of the fru@d.

  33. Can we read anything into the mere fact that the state supreme court has decided to review a case already decided in favor of the defendant?

  34. For all those stating Mann has something to hide otherwise he would not fight the disclosure, remember the 900 lbs gorilla in this case, UVA, probably has greater reason to fight the precedent that would be set by a decision requiring disclosure. Mann may not be the driving force here.

    • @Patrick B – Mann is not the driving force. But he is a willing participant. UVA did indeed initiate the fight, and it could have stayed that way. But Mann stepped in (even though he had no legal standing nor was a party to the original suit). One has to wonder why.

  35. Jquip on October 9, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    ““government employees on government property using government facilities for government purposes” — Quote from John Whitman

    – – – – – – –

    Jquip,

    Although I wish I had said that, it was said by Va Judge Sheridan in the initial trial.

    Regarding your “Or the idea that government research grants are Food Stamps for Philosophers.” That was well put. I like it, but would suggest a qualification, namely ‘natural philosophers’.

    John

  36. Gary Hladik on October 9, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    Can we read anything into the mere fact that the state supreme court has decided to review a case already decided in favor of the defendant?

    – – – – – – – –

    Gary Hladik,

    It does seem that it indicates a Va Supreme Court interest in a critique of the correctness of the initial court’s ruling.

    I am not a lawyer. Any legal counsel in the audience?

    John

  37. Our plaintiffs brief is due in early November. You all will be able to read it then. Also, the court is going to see 31 example emails and another half dozen I’ll be using in the brief. They do shoe Mann as he actually was, and I don’t know about his mother, but mine would not have been proud of me if I’d written them.

    David Schnare
    Plaintiffs’ Counsel

    • @David Shnare – WOW! Mann must be really rich! Paying his lawyer to argue the case in front of a bunch of people that will not and CAN NOT affect the outcome of the case.

      Wish I had that kind of money.

  38. We have all had to deal with an habitual liar at some stage. Lies, to support lies, to support lies. Then one day you pick up an inconsistency and realize that all they have been telling you from the outset is a big pack of lies. These people will lie to the bitter end and beyond to avoid the truth ever coming out. Ever notice that the more prestigious the “organisation” they represent, the longer it takes for the trust to wear thin and the bigger the stakes of the con? This one of course goes all the way up to the UN. Michael Mann is showing the classical signs of an habitual liar. He knows that the contents of the emails are dynamite-the truth must never be revealed. If he really had nothing to hide, he would release the emails willingly to settle the matter. Mind you, people from the Left seem to be habitual liars in general(not that other politicians are much better.)

  39. Working in big Pharma, our emails can be requested by agencies. If there is deemed a legal hold on one of our programs, it’s against the law to delete any emails regarding the program and all those emails can be obtained by the agency. How can these publicly funded schools be any different?

    And indeed, what in the world are in Mann’s emails that they are protecting so heavily???

  40. Latimer Alder on October 9, 2013 at 12:42 pm
    Its right that people want to see what they get for their tax money. But Mann is only a tiny fish in a big climate pond.

    The real question is what did we get for the more than $100Bn worldwide ‘invested’ around the world in climate studies.

    It seems that our knowledge is barely increased since this firehose of cash was turned on.

    What did they do with it all?
    —————————
    They fudged data, wrote bogus computer models, published papers, gave biased news conferenses, and attended conferences, In addition they garnered salaries for themselves and their research assistants, grad students, and post docs. Plus the Universities charge a huge overhead on any grant monies brought in and spent. Everyone benefits but the tax payer

  41. Patrick B says: October 9, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    For all those stating Mann has something to hide otherwise he would not fight the disclosure, remember the 900 lbs gorilla in this case, UVA, probably has greater reason to fight the precedent that would be set by a decision requiring disclosure. Mann may not be the driving force here.

    Much as I love the man, I haven’t seen much evidence that he is heavily involved here. UVA seem to be fighting this one and probably because a decision against them would open the flood gates to University FOI requests generally. We wouldn’t want that now would we? Who knows what headline generating ‘skeletons in closets’ might be uncovered (not necessarily at UVA)? A win for UVA is a win for every organisation subject to FOI.

  42. “A win for UVA is a win for every organisation subject to FOI.”

    And a loss to the taxpayers. >:-(

  43. Barbara Skolaut says:
    October 10, 2013 at 9:51 am

    “A win for UVA is a win for every organisation subject to FOI.”

    And a loss to the taxpayers. >:-(

    ========================================================================
    And the students enrolled in these “re”education camps.
    Parents have a right to know what their children are being taught regardless of the subject.

  44. Maybe, just maybe this has little to do per se with Mann. Has it occurred to anyone that this process has run this far in order to hide the possibility that something in the emails shows that this scam goes right to the very top. I’m not talking climatologists or universities or local politics. I’m talking international scam overseen by the UN and national governments. Big people, big interests.

    SteveT

  45. My knee jerks everytime I see the suggestion that Mann should hand over the emails if he has nothing to hide. He and UVA should release the emails because it’s the law and I hope the court upholds this. The “nothing to hide” or “did nothing wrong” argument is not how we do things in the US.

    I’m not interested in any emails where Mann shows us, again, what an arrogant, unlikable A** he is. We already know all about that. If he complains about colleagues or bosses, it’s immaterial to me. I’m interested in any suggestion that the science isn’t important, that the hockey stick is a good icon, even if inaccurate, or any talk of hiding data and blocking papers that don’t conform to the Team’s message. I surely don’t want to know about any porn trading. I’m sickened thoroughly about the Pachuri book… please spare me the visualization of Mann with a laptop in a private place.

  46. “exempts unpublished … released elsewhere”. Isn’t there an aspect missing? Lawyers squabbling! This is a classic example of the difference between the law and a modicum of justice. Taxpayers are entitled to expect that academic research paid for from the public purse be available for public scrutiny.

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