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