UVA to supply Mann emails/documents but you can't look (yet)

Updated: 8:30PM PST, statement from ATI received via email, see below. – Anthony

BREAKING:

Steve McIntyre sends word that University of Virgina has been ordered to produce the Mann emails and documents sought by the lawsuit from the America Tradition Institute (ATI). Only one little hitch. Get a load of this excerpt from the court consent order:

“All Exempt Information contained or discussed in any pleading, motion, exhibit, or other paper filed with the Court shall be filed under seal.”

Steve writes:

==============================================================

A consent order was entered into today in respect to FOI requests to the University of Virginia under Virginia FOI legislation from the American Tradition Institute. The order in case CL-11-3236 dated May 24, 2011 stated:

it is therefore ADJUDGED ORDERED and DECREED as follows: The Respondent [UVA] shall complete its supply of requested documents no later than 90 days after the date of this order and will supply them in electronic form.

As I understand the order, information claimed to be Exempt Information will be filed under seal and, after examination of the Exempt Information, the Parties have an opportunity for in camera review.

===========================================================

For those not familiar with the legal language, in camera means:

In camera (Latin: “in a chamber”) is a legal term meaning “in private“.It is also sometimes termed in chambers or in curia.

In camera describes court cases (or portions thereof) that the public and press are not admitted to.In camera is the opposite of trial in open court where all the parties and witnesses testify in a public courtroom, and attorneys make their arguments in public to the trier of fact.

UPDATE: First impressions about “sealed” may be wrong. Apparently, there is another way to look at this. Sealed documents may not be the permanent situation, just the initial one, to give a chance for both parties to get a handle on some information that may need to be withheld for a valid reason. Reader JD writes:

Anthony, I am a lawyer in Ohio and a climate realist. (don’t claim to be an expert in Virginia law, but from a general perspective as a lawyer, I think I see the gist here) I see this order as being a decent preliminary step forward in transparency. Apparently, the court has indicated that it is rejecting blanket exemptions by UVA. To save time, the court is telling the parties to see how much they can agree is subject to disclosure. Following the UVA’s almost certain claim that some of the information requested is exempt, the court will initially have the claimed exempt materials reviewed in private (in camera).

This is only logical because if some information is to be truly exempt (for instance, the names of informants, potentially in criminal cases), the only way to give meaning to the exemption is to have some sort of private review. When the court rules on the virtually inevitable exemption claims of UVA, then we will have a good idea of whether justice and common sense will be achieved. At this point in time, the court is merely following a sensible preliminary procedure.

STATEMENT FROM ATI:

Statement:

http://www.atinstitute.org/court-orders-university-of-virginia-to/

Chris Horner writes:

In short, the University was forced to part ways from supporting the PFAW/ACLU/AAAS/AAUP demands and Mann’s interests, and start working to make itself look less bad to a court. Beginning by agreeing to let us see it all — ‘it’ being the records as described in the AG’s CID — and begin the process of identifying what within that ‘all’ it was going to fight over and why. See attached.

So we get it all, and electronically, including the coded material oddly delivered in printed form when mailed to us last week.*

They must isolate and declare what they declare exempt and we’ll present what of that that’s withheld, that we want released, to the judge to decide whether it is rightly exempt under a specific FOIA exemption. What isn’t stamped is ours at that time w/o further fight. It is the University’s burden to argue that what they’ve claimed an exemption for must not be released, i.e., be returned to them.

*On Friday, with a hearing looming, they turned over a stack of records, apparently hurriedly produced, after we filed suit on Monday, with enough having become enough. Although a few decent items slipped through, inter alia affirming that ClimateGate appeared on its face to be, at least a couple of respects, they clearly turned over as much chaff as they could scrape together from the review they had largely been avoiding undertaking in the first place (pages and pages of ads in email threads, and the like) to show volume if not actual cooperation. But that era is over.

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86 thoughts on “UVA to supply Mann emails/documents but you can't look (yet)

  1. The breadth and depth of the political inroads into everyday life should not be underestimated
    The establisment rules !!!

  2. This implies there is information contained within these emails that they wish to hide from public view.
    Now I can understand this if there are communications contained within that are more to do with “business”-related activities which might be considered as being “important to be kept confidential”.
    But what I don’t understand is, if the research was funded by public money, why can’t the public then see HOW this money has been distributed and used.

  3. Some Fear Facts.
    Others search for Facts.
    It is just that clear.
    Demand Searches.

  4. There is only one reason for this. UVA does not want the emails released via WUWT’s website. Wouldn’t want the truth in wide distribution!!!
    The Vatican’s action in 1600 towards Galileo was nothing compared to UVA hostility to truth and the general scientific community. I have a message for the neanderthals at UVA, “yet it moves”.

  5. Could a FOIA request be made some time in the future, for those documents, after all the investigations are complete?
    Failing that, if there were to be a trial based on information contained within the documents, then surely all the dirty laundry will come out eventually?

  6. Is it possible to read this in another way?
    Judge to UVA: Enough! Deliver the documents within 90 days.. Anything you think is exempted will be reviewed by this court and if it still exempted, it will be available in camera. Anything that fails exemption will be released as per FOI.

  7. It would be hard for climate science to sink any farther than it already has but I think they’ve done it again. Wow.

  8. Anthony, I am a lawyer in Ohio and a climate realist. (don’t claim to be an expert in Virginia law, but from a general perspective as a lawyer, I think I see the gist here) I see this order as being a decent preliminary step forward in transparency. Apparently, the court has indicated that it is rejecting blanket exemptions by UVA. To save time, the court is telling the parties to see how much they can agree is subject to disclosure. Following the UVA’s almost certain claim that some of the information requested is exempt, the court will initially have the claimed exempt materials reviewed in private (in camera).
    This is only logical because if some information is to be truly exempt (for instance, the names of informants, potentially in criminal cases), the only way to give meaning to the exemption is to have some sort of private review. When the court rules on the virtually inevitable exemption claims of UVA, then we will have a good idea of whether justice and common sense will be achieved. At this point in time, the court is merely following a sensible preliminary procedure.
    JD

  9. They just buried FOI under a mountain of legal mumbo-jumbo.
    That alone will throw a truckload of jet fuel on every conspiracy theory out there, as well as engender contempt and disbelief at every turn.

  10. crosspatch says:
    May 24, 2011 at 6:45 pm
    Sounds to me like a judge that knows which side of his bread has the butter.
    ———————————————————
    I wouldn’t be so harsh on the judge. Their legal team probably made a very formidable argument that this information getting all over the internet would prejudice a jury from both sides of the debate*.
    (* formerly known as “the debate that is over”.)
    Also, I think it would be interesting to hear from our resident lawyers about this. Would it not be true that attorneys who read the sealed documents can still call in witnesses and question them on what they read in them at depositions and on the stand, as long as there was no breach of intellectual property, which in this case would not apply ??
    Sorry, even at the risk of prejudicing a jury, I couldn’t resist this. I think it should be called TheDebateIsOver.jpg
    http://www.ucar.edu/news/releases/2009/images/Fig.final_11.jpg

  11. I think this order is being misinterpreted. It states that:
    “The Respondent may designate as Exempt Information any requested public
    record.”
    “”Exempt Information” means any requested public records the Respondent has not disclosed under authority of the Act, including any laws or constitutional provisions that apply to those public records.””
    “Within 30 days after the date on which Respondent supplies Disclosed Information, the Respondent shall provide the Petitioners’ counsel designated pursuant to Paragraph (C) (3), above, copies of all Exempt Information in a form to be agreed upon between the parties.”
    “The Petitioners shall have 90 days after receipt of the Exempt Information to review it, negotiate with the Respondents, and, if they choose, file a petition with the Court for in camera review for determination as to whether the Respondent properly designated the records as Exempt Information as defined herein.”
    Based on my reading of this, it is standard and reasonable, i.e. Respondent has to produce everything and provide it all to the Petitioners, however Respondent has the right to mark documents that they don’t think should be subject to the FOI as Exempt Information. The Petitioners then have 90 days to review the Exempt Information, negotiate with Respondent and if they can’t agree whether a certain document is subject to the FOI, Petitioners can “petition with the Court for in camera review for determination as to whether the Respondent properly designated the records as Exempt Information.”
    This is reasonable, as we are going to get to see all the tree ring studies, as they are not Exempt Information, and even if UVA marks them as Exempt Information, the Petitioners can review them with the judge and get the exemption overruled. However, we are not going to get to see the email that Micheal sent to his wife, doctor, etc. having nothing to do with tree ring studies, and this is the way it should be.

  12. Yet another reason why I will never return to the “commonwealth” of “Virginia.
    Corruption runs deep there.

  13. Now I know why I turned down acceptance to UVa in 1968 and went to VMI instead, graduated with a Civil Engineering degree and became a Marine.

  14. Step one: Get the documents archived out of UVA’s possession
    Step two: Review the documents for continuity, to ascertain if any destruction of evidence has taken place
    Step three: Content analysis – exemptions, privacy, etc.
    Step four: Comply with law and release documents
    Step five: ?

  15. JD Ohio says:
    May 24, 2011 at 7:23 pm
    What you are saying makes good sense. Let us all have the patience to see how this thing unfolds.

  16. JD is right. Nothing evil going on here. There do seem to be some broad exemptions in VA FOIA law and some will be undoubtedly claimed. This is probably the fairest way to resolved any disputes.
    Note that a consent decree means that both parties have agreed to the terms. This is a negotiated settlement.

  17. LOL. Methinks “In camera,” in this instance is equivalent to “Watergate files.” LOL, again. Instantly, the phrase “Kinetic Military Action” came to mind.
    This “breach of belief” (for wont of a better phrase) is happening on many fronts right now in the world. It is very worrisome, indeed!

  18. I’ve updated the body of the post to include JD’s take on it. Legalspeak often needs an interpreter, and I think he did a good job of interpreting what really the need for sealed documents is for.

  19. Two other observations.
    Firstly, to the power of WUWT, within an hour and 15 minutes of this article going up 5 readers had offered countervailing perspectives and the article was updated. Echo chamber my ass…
    Secondly, given that this order exists, it is likely that Disclosed Information has either been produced or is forthcoming in the coming days. Per a May 16th press release from the American Tradition Institute:
    “More than one month ago, on April 6, 2011, the University informed us in writing that it expected to begin producing responsive records ‘shortly,’” said Christopher Horner, the senior director of litigation for ATI’s Environmental Law Center. “Then came a pressure campaign in which groups including People for the American Way and ACLU sought political intervention in the process. On May 2, 2011, UVA promised they would send some documents three days later. As of May 13, 2011, ATI had not received a single document under their request.”
    http://www.atinstitute.org/ati-law-center-asks-court-to-dislodge-university-of-virginia-%E2%80%98climategate%E2%80%99-and-other-documents-that-pertain-to-climate-scientist-michael-mann/
    Today’s order states that, “Within 30 days after the date on which Respondent supplies Disclosed Information, the Respondent shall provide the Petitioners’ counsel designated pursuant to Paragraph (C) (3), above, copies of all Exempt Information in a form to be agreed upon between the parties.” Judges are not known for their patience, thus “the date on which Respondent supplies Disclosed Information” is likely quite near…

  20. Couldn’t someone just break in and copy the stuff onto an FTP site? Or is this another inside job?

  21. Thanks Anthony,
    I think you are right about JD’s comment, and would like to point out, as Rattus has mentioned, this is a consent decree. This is a negotiated settlement of one of the most significant issues in the case i.e. what record exists at UV regarding the information underlying this case. Assuming Mann has some of the highest paid attorney’s in the US on his case, why would they settle on this point if they did not see fundamental weaknesses in their argument of privileged information.
    The information is coming out. This agreement describes the procedure, including mutual check points, by which the judge will ultimately decide what information is truly subject to privilege.
    We should also keep in mind that there have been several arguments put forth by these folk about why certain information is privileged because of private agreeements pertaining to the rights of the collectors of the data sets. I suspect that that issue is still on the table, but will now be subject to judicial review.

  22. It’s about time the big money lawyers were brought in to get them, eh? These people should have no shred of privacy, or freedom.

  23. Agree with JD. The court’s order about filing under seal is a very common procedure in certain sensitive situations or circumstances where further review is needed to determine whether it should be filed with the court as publicly available.

  24. Policyguy says:
    May 24, 2011 at 8:36 pm
    Assuming Mann has some of the highest paid attorney’s in the US on his case, why would they settle on this point if they did not see fundamental weaknesses in their argument of privileged information.

    I’d be surprised if Mann had any lawyers working on it, why would you suppose that he had? Judging by the ATI’s webpage they seem to have some strange ideas about what material they will receive. For example they think that Mann published the ‘Hockey Stick’ paper while at UVA, and that the graph disappeared from the IPCC reports.

  25. The fact that two liberal groups (People for the American Way and the ACLU) tried to block the FOI request confirms that AGW is largely a political and not a scientific issue. I was really surprised however that the ACLU would attempt to quash our civil liberties by blocking the release of information that should be available to the public. It indicates that there is likely something in the information that could put the first nail in the coffin of AGW. Let’s hope so. We have enough real problems and don’t need a fabricated one.

  26. 91 days from now would be a good time for Mikey Mann to start his summer vacation, somewhere deep, deep in the woods where there is no cell phone coverage. Otherwise, he’s gonna have some `splainin to do!

  27. Wondering aloud.. Assuming a lot..
    If Mann had a side business (many academics do get paid for consulting, speaking, book writing..) then he and UVA might not want to disclose those activities if it would point out that UVA haven’t supervised the Chinese Wall that is supposed to separate academia and for profit activities. Since Mann is no longer at UVA, they could have thrown him under the bus long ago with a timely FOI response. Assuming there is a bus they don’t want to catch or go under.
    Academic Freedom doesn’t apply to commercial activities of their staff. That (assumed) mismanagement of their researchers’ commercial activity is what UVA doesn’t want to show. IMO. Assuming a lot.
    In the political fight against AGW, there is probably nothing there in the UVA documents & emails that we don’t already know. What the ruling really means is the Virginia universities are subject their state’s (commonwealth of Va.) laws. Penn State will be holding executive meetings.

  28. Thanks for the legal perspective, JD! This is good news and (hopefully!) will yield a more detailed look into a small man(n)’s participation in climate change fraud.
    Now is the time to follow a phillipino aphorism:
    “Softly….Softly….Catchy Monkey!”

  29. Anthony,
    Those readers interested in some of the history and details of fact
    proffered in court that led to the UVa/ATI consent decree can
    review the “Verified Petition for Mandamus and Injunctive Relief”
    filed May 15, 2011, by the American Tradition Institute with the
    Prince William County Circuit Court.
    The 19 page “Petition” in PDF format can be found here:
    http://www.atinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/ATI_v_UVA_FOIA_First_Petition_final_5-15-11.pdf

  30. I feel that there is no way Mann and Co. will hand over anything damaging. They will be madly running the “virtual” shredders over there attempting to cover their tracks. The only question really is, how well will they cover those tracks, and how much will investigators be able to piece together exactly what is missing…

  31. I wouldn’t be so harsh on the judge. Their legal team probably made a very formidable argument that this information getting all over the internet would prejudice a jury from both sides of the debate*.

    I agree and I retract my earlier bread and butter statement.

  32. Nothing will happen. We are not going to see any of the incriminating records.
    Shredders are buzzing in the University of Virginia, and disk drives are being re-formatted.
    The court gave the Respondent more than enough time to destroy the evidence (if it hasn’t been destroyed already).

  33. This is good news.
    Discovery can be a very far reaching process since material referred to in non privileged documentationn becomes disclosable. If in that material, further material is referred to then that further material becomes disclosable etc. There can be quite a long and extending paper chase.
    The Order to me sounds pragmatic and fair. Whilst I am not an Expert in Virginia State Law, it sounds to me that the Order effectively works as follows:
    Anything that UVA accepts is not privileged is released (within the 90 day period) openly to the other side. Anything over which UVA claims privilege will be identified and will then be reviewed in private with the other party in effect being able to argue that this or that document is not properly privileged. At this stage UVA may accept what the other side says about its non privileged status (and in which case the relevant document will then be released openly), or if the parties cannot at that stage agree on the status, the issue wilol no doubt be referred to the Court for a formal ruling on privilege. If that happens and the Court holds that a document is not privileged, it will then be formally released on open basis.
    Whilst ATI cannot strictly use knowledge obtained from the in camera review, human nature being as it is, this may lead to independent investigations and enquiries which may in turn unearth some of the privileged material.
    The real issue is what are the effective grounds for claiming privileg over any piece of documentation

  34. Paul Westhaver said @ May 24, 2011 at 6:44 pm
    “The Vatican’s action in 1600 towards Galileo was nothing compared to UVA hostility to truth and the general scientific community.”
    OK, I’ll bite. What action in 1600 did the Vatican take towards Galileo? It was the year his daughter Virginia was born (out of wedlock).

  35. This is going to be explosive! Either there is a good reason why they spent an awful lot of money trying to hide information …. or they spent an awful lot of money trying to hide information from sceptics (but not greenpeace) for no good reason.
    Is this “90 days” or “90 working days” or “90 days excluding weekends, holidays, days the secretary is away, days when its not convenient to work as the sun is shining”?

  36. For info … I noticed the google ad was:-
    Your FREE report on how easy it is to profit from carbon offsets.
    So I clicked on it. I just love the thought that their advertising is helping to fund your site!

  37. I have a question. Is it possible for the university to just leave out ( erase ) any inconvenient e-mails, eventually by erasing them ?

  38. @Robert M
    I wouldn’t be so certain that virtual shredding is the inevitable consequence: it’s one thing to passively keep your mouth shut and quite another to engage in an active deceit.
    Eliminating evidence of this kind involves a few people, and many of those will want to play with a straight bat for good reasons and / or be unwilling to take risk to cover for someone else – why should they?
    And email exchanges involve at least two parties – there’s a risk of something coming to light through another means and that would involve a lot of explaining and repercussions.

  39. The process of law in Virginia is grinding on. I know nothing of the mysteries of Virginia law, but JD’s interpretation gives me the impression that the negotiations between the UVA and the AG have born fruit and progress will now be made toward establishing whether criminal acts took place, or not. But I am constantly amazed at the effrontery of those organisations who have attempted to confuse the possible misuse of what ultinately comes from tax revenue with ‘academic freedom’.

  40. Well, I was under the impression that a FOI request got you the information you requested not a delay to enable the regime in question to hide, destroy, alter or whatever the object of the FOI request.
    Obviously the law in the US is as ‘flexible’ as that in the UK.

  41. SSam above said Virginia was corrupt. No–what we see here is that corruption is being fought, by Attorney General Cuccinelli and his staff. UVA is obviously governed by Political Correctness and the Correct Party Line, and will go to any feasible length to conceal Mann’s transgressions with public money; but the state is not corrupt. It is being as well governed as I have yet seen, and I have been living in Virginia since 1981. Cuccinelli really is acting for the public good, as he sees it, and UVA is clearly and totally in the wrong on this issue, as fine an institution as it is in many ways.

  42. To: Just the Facts:
    >>This is reasonable, as we are going to get to see all the tree ring studies, as they are not Exempt Information, and even if UVA marks them as Exempt Information, the Petitioners can review them with the judge and get the exemption overruled. However, we are not going to get to see the email that Micheal sent to his wife, doctor, etc. having nothing to do with tree ring studies, and this is the way it should be.<<
    Hmmm. I certainly don't know anything about Virginia law. However, I have an email account which is supplied to me by a public agency with whom I contract independently here in Colorado. I use that email account to communicate with other professionals within the agency about our work. It was explained to me long ago that NO email exchanges made on that account could ever be considered private under ANY circumstances as it could potentially be viewed by anyone. I keep my private life and work separate from my work at the agency and that rule is applied to my email.
    Heck. This is information gathered and paid for with public money, sent over publicly owned servers, presumably during time payed for with public money, etc., etc. The information belongs to the public. If something was sent of a private nature that someone didn't want made public, TOO BAD. All this "in camera review" stuff seems unnecessary and indefensible.

  43. Political support for global warming has been draining away at an astonishing rate since the double whammy of Climategate and the recession. As any racketeer can tell you, once you lose your political protection, Rikers Island comes into view.
    Pointman

  44. I am not sure that people should get too excited.
    The probability is that within the emails that the UVA release, there is no smoking gun. One of the issues raised will be whether it is possible to see whether the disclosure is full and complete and if not how to pursue what appears to be missing documents.
    I think that before crowing too loudly one shoud wait and see. Scottish Sceptic has a point that if it transpires that there is nothing in the emails then questions arise as to why UVA spent so much money digging their heels in. As regards the 90 day point (whilst not an expert on Virginian law), this is presumably 90 calendar days, ie., simply running days.

  45. Cecil Coupe says:
    May 24, 2011 at 10:03 pm
    What the ruling really means is the Virginia universities are subject their state’s (commonwealth of Va.) laws.

    Do you suppose that they apply to GMU too? Somebody should ask for all Wegman’s emails concerning his report to Congress, perhaps then we can find out what McIntyre’s contribution to it was.

  46. Just a thought, if there are any e-mails that they do not mind releasing do you think they would release them without going through the “in camera” procedure?
    I think no, I think they will try and release the whole lot together to make the job of untangling them harder. But as there is no reason not to release them, then why not?

  47. Thanks JD on the finer legal point…I guess this still has some way to go. Damn!

  48. Robert M: at 10.35pm
    Re the virtual shredders and reformatted hard drives – if this is so the perpetrators need to be very careful. The modern information trails leave their DNA everywhere – it would be very hard to eliminate all evidence and copies of an exchange of information. It will only take one missed shredding to be found and the whole blanket will unravel. The Federal investigation that inevitably follows such an obvious obstruction of justice and probably conspiracy would add orders of magnitude of hurt to the perpetrators. I think even Mann and his mates would not take that path.

  49. I can accept that some of the “info” may not be usefully or desirably sidplayed in public; so I will wait and see.

  50. The real benefit
    We have all been talking about the information itself. But there is something far more important than past communications … it is how the climategate team will talk to each other in the future.
    They have been living in a fairytale world under the mistaken belief that they are above the law, in the sense that they are only answerable to other members of the team and not to the standards set by any wider audience. This has allowed them to indulge in speculation, half truths, a world where it really was possible to believe “hiding the decline” and manipulation of peer review was not only entirely acceptable but “good”.
    You can only get that type of perspective in an isolated group with little of no oversight from outside.
    It doesn’t matter if anything is found in this Virginia disclosure. In a sense it doesn’t matter if they have “lost” the smoking gun … because that smoking gun is now useless because they can never use it again for fear of being exposed.
    But, more importantly, they will be continually looking over their shoulder trying to second guess how their actions will appear “if exposed”. That cannot act in any other way than to continually force them to assess their actions by the widest acceptable standards and not just by their introverted “everything goes” standards of the team.
    This will do what we expected the climategate inquiries to do which singularly failed to materialise. It will impose real scientific discipline on a group of rogue “scientists” who have abused the name of science to spread their malicious hysteria. No, doubt the imposition of real standards by “public review” in place of their failed “peer review”, will tip the balance of power away from the charlatan publicity seekers like Mann and Hansen and toward those who espouse real scientific value like speaking from the evidence (not making the evidence fit what you would like to say).

  51. Jay Curtis says: May 25, 2011 at 2:28 am
    I have an email account which is supplied to me by a public agency with whom I contract independently here in Colorado. I use that email account to communicate with other professionals within the agency about our work. It was explained to me long ago that NO email exchanges made on that account could ever be considered private under ANY circumstances as it could potentially be viewed by anyone. I keep my private life and work separate from my work at the agency and that rule is applied to my email.
    This is definitely a prudent approach, as discovery is often a far reaching/encompassing process and in this case ATI’s attorneys should get to see everything, even Mann’s personal emails.
    Heck. This is information gathered and paid for with public money, sent over publicly owned servers, presumably during time payed for with public money, etc., etc. The information belongs to the public. If something was sent of a private nature that someone didn’t want made public, TOO BAD. All this “in camera review” stuff seems unnecessary and indefensible.
    However, we diverge here. People need and deserve the right to a degree of privacy. Sometimes it is impractical not to use company email for personal communications, e.g. your child is ill and your spouse is trying to reach you whereever you are by emailing your work email. In such circumstances, our public employees should have confidence that their personal, non-relevant information will not be shared with the public due to an FOI.

  52. OK once you open the door, that sheds light on what is there, what is not, and even if something is exempt as argued, then the contents have been seen, discussed, argued, and a ruling made on the document. That also means that even if exempt, there is nothing to stop them being produced at say a congressional hearing, or to be produced under supoena for additional discovery purposes.
    I’m rather hoping there are unexplained gaps in the information. Gaps indicating significant documents have been “shredded” would most probably give good reason for searching forensic examination.
    Tampering with records, if proven, would cause more damage to the credibility of the “tamperers” than the deleted documents most likely. So lets see how it goes!!

  53. richard verney says:
    May 25, 2011 at 3:01 am
    I am not sure that people should get too excited.
    The probability is that within the emails that the UVA release, there is no smoking gun.

    I agree with this. There is probably nothing in the UVA emails. The university may have been fighting this over principle.

  54. Alexander Feht says:
    May 24, 2011 at 10:48 pm
    Nothing will happen. We are not going to see any of the incriminating records.
    Shredders are buzzing in the University of Virginia, and disk drives are being re-formatted.
    ===================================================
    Not likely
    ATI may already have some copies of what they are asking for, and if the known list does not match what is supplied by UVA………………………..

  55. My hunch is that these documents will uncover suggestions of sloppy record keeping, and in some cases, lost records. These documents may also lead one to wonder if poor scientific methods were used. However, FOI requests for these additional documents referred to in this new release will eventually end up thus: they will be declared lost and the University will have a stain on its reputation for conducting science in a way decidedly not as it should be conducted.

  56. I really, really appreciate the hard work being performed here to get the truth into the public eye. I applaud this breakthrough and wait for the final outcomes with great expectations. I really hope it puts the Mann papers in the right perspective and provide us with a clear view on the ongoing conspiracy of scientific misrepresentation of the true state of our climate providing us with the legal means to end the green political doctrine of power and money grabs at the costs of the consumer and the tax payer.

  57. I’ll reserve judgement on this until we start to see why the University of Virginia and Michael Mann have been so desperate to keep under wraps. If only the UofV had been so determined to preserve the academic privileges of Pat Michaels, this might have had a different result.

  58. Now, the big question is the honesty and loyalty of the court.
    As Matthew W. points out, being dishonest with the court can have some nasty consequences. If it is shown to be concealing documents known to be in its possession, UVA could piss off a judge…if that judge isn’t owned by the university….and THAT is a HUGE potential problem!!!
    At least one judge so far has had to recuse himself in the case of Terri Patraw at the University of Nevada, Reno because of associations with UNR’s legal team and misc. friendships with the administration.
    I’d strongly recommend to Steve M. et al to look into the background of the judge to see if he’s a big donor, or if there are other allegiances which could taint the process.
    Otherwise, I’d look at this as a good thing. At least there’s a spotlight on it!

  59. None of this would be happening if they had done honest work in the first place. And no one would care if the consequences of the work were not so great.

  60. Looks bad for Virginia If they find documents that allude to other documents that have been shredded, the destruction of documents can become sticky. Fighting the court orders also looks bad for the school.

  61. My two cents on it is: even if all the data shows Mann was pure as the wind driven snow on all aspects of his research conduct, the precedence needs to be set that public funded research is the property of the public (perhaps with a national security exemption – wouldn’t want nuclear designs propagating everywhere). Governments need to be prodded out of the idea that what they do “for the public good” can ever be a secret from the people. Their can be no “some animals more equal than others” in a free and open society.

  62. Because UVA is a public institution, it is perfectly legitimate to put reasoned political pressure on it to do what is proper. Mann advocates the spending of trillions of dollars to remake the world’s economy. Anyone who mixes that political goal with science has to expect that his work for a public university on matters of great public interest will be public. Additionally, it is reasonable to check his work for evidence of bias.
    I would expect that there are political advocacy groups at UVAs law school (such as the National Lawyer’s Guild) or in the general University itself that have argued that corporations working for or with the state should be required to be transparent. I would also expect that these same groups might be taking exactly the opposite position now. So I would check what has happened in Virginia (am aware of Pat Michaels case) and maybe the discovery of double standards will shame some CO2 advocates and will provide a convincing basis for members of the public to force the UVA to do the right thing and become transparent.
    I would also add that the consent order is mostly an agreement to privately exchange information. It states: “Nothing in this Order shall be construed to effect an abrogation,waiver or limitation of any kind on the right of the Respondent to assert any applicable authorization to exclude the public records from disclosure.” So at this stage, the parties have not agreed to anything that is significantly substantive.
    JD

  63. I don’t know a great deal about much of the science discussed at the site. Certainly less than I’d like to. But I do know a great deal about litigation discovery. This means UVA has 120 days to turn over all requested documents and make any claims of privilege or exemption to “claw back” any produced documents. All their arguments about media, recoverability, cost, undue burden, etc. have already been made – and rejected. They now have a hard, court ordered, deadline. No more evasion. The documents and priv logs must be in the possession of the plaintiff and/or court 120 days hence. Period.

  64. It seems likely to me that the delay/obstruct tactics by the university in this case were motivated by knee-jerk reactions all universities take when trying to protect sources of research funding. Somehow I doubt the university has spent much time investigating their exposure on this at all, and in fact have at this point increased their exposure with delay tactics. I suspect if the university were ever told that no more federal funding were coming until it fully complies with the requirements of law, they would throw Mann to the wolves.

  65. imho
    I believe all weather/climate information world wide should be made public to enable everybody the chance to ask questions, add data and maybe find the truth and a way to prepare for our future.
    This information was gained by our tax dollars and placed in the university’s computers, therefore it belongs to the people.
    Mann has no right to enter into secret deals with tax dollars paying the bills. Therefore he has no right to hide or keep secret any information.
    The information must be made public including any secret deal info that’s there.
    If it’s in the taxpayers computers, if it relates to weather or this climate change debate in any way, shape or form …..it belongs to the public.
    I cannot in any way imagine a government or people who would stand in the way except for their private gain.

  66. My concern is how much editing, purging, etc. has gone on since the first FOI request. Will there be an unexplained Watergate gap?

  67. jorgekafkazar says:
    May 25, 2011 at 10:49 am
    I’m wondering who the major donors to UVA are.

    Alumni. Kluge use to contribute a lot, but the grim reaper got him,

  68. Tom B said:
    “They now have a hard, court ordered, deadline. No more evasion. The documents and priv logs must be in the possession of the plaintiff and/or court 120 days hence. Period.”
    True. But if the judge is politically sympathetic to the AGW side, he could agree with UVA’s objections to releasing the most damaging documents (for whatever superficial reason) and we would still not have the transparency that is sought.

  69. First, in camera review is an appropriate step if UVA believes some of the emails should meet a FOIA exemption. As some have noted, it is possible that there are emails that have nothing to do with the global warming issue that got caught up in the screen.
    Second, if UVA is on the ball (as they should be), there should have been no opportunity to delete/modify records. I have been involved in some similar legal requests in a private firm, and a tech team promptly copied hard drives etc. and then the legal team ran searches to see what should be disclosed and what could be protected. (Of course, if Mann cleaned drives and records before the request, we may never know.) I would be shocked if UVA’s general and outside counsel weren’t tightly controlling this process – at least from the point the FOIA request was received and possibly even before that in anticipation of the request.
    Finally, I was a science major and the most telling fact for me is the secretive behavior of the warmists. A scientist should be throwing open the windows and screaming “come look at what I have done! I think I have proved “X”! Can you find any error in my work?” I understand and work in the commercial world where secrecy is necessary to protect investment, but the warmists’ work should have been open book.

  70. @wobble who said:

    I agree [probability is that within the emails that the UVA release, there is no smoking gun.] There is probably nothing in the UVA emails. The university may have been fighting this over principle.

    What principle might that be, the fact that they have no principles? What stretch of the imagination supports a claim that publicly funded research is not subject to public scrutiny? I cannot imagine a principle that justifies fighting a legitimate FOI request through non-compliance and unjustified delays rather than arbitration or consent decree and, failing that, court review. UVA did not step up to their public obligations from the very start and that is why their Attorney General got involved. Then they fought him! Every UVA action has been inexcusable from the very start.

  71. Ya boy, global warming is a real problem threatening the whole world—only you can’t kiss and tell about it—that’s how dangerous it is.

  72. Since this is a University we are talking about, they most likely have their own e-mail servers and these would be backed up with great frequency. You can’t just delete e-mails from a database or file; you would have to either have to hack the backup files or delete them entirely – oops we don’t know where that backup went… The problem with this strategy is you would need to lose a lot of backups. I wonder how many years they keep them? This should be written in an IT policy for the University.
    Most institutions would be backing up their entire e-mail servers on at least a weekly basis with deltas taken every night. You don’t want to lose your e-mail – trust me.
    The problem is Dr. Mann might have used non-University e-mail accounts – its absolutely frightening how sloppy many people get about where they type in information. So you may only get bits and pieces of a story (assuming there is one).
    In any case, I hope this can set an example for any research conducted using public money. There is no justification that the public cannot view what they paid for; only excepting where privacy concerns of people used in the research should be protected. If University researchers want to be able to hide their precious data they should find other methods of financing their work.

  73. I’m also of the opinion that secrecy makes no sense here. While the pay is piddling, the opportunity to have your study bathed in theater lights and listed as the major attraction on the marquee and handbills is one of the (if not THE one) best rewards for one’s endeavors. Unimpeachable research methods would be the icing on the cake and worthy in its own right of such adulation. Could it be that we are letting in sloppy Ph.D. candidates who are now the rotting apple scientists in what was once a sterling profession? The stalling makes no sense.

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