ATI and the Mann case update

While I was a bit busy with other things (my PBS interview generated quite a lot of interest as well as hate mail) there was other news. Most notable was the ruling against ATI’s FOIA case with the University of Virginia. I don’t have any press release yet from ATI, but I’ll pass it along when it becomes available. Here’s a summary from ClimateScienceWatch, who seemed giddy at the news:

A Virginia court has affirmed the University of Virginia’s right to withhold confidential scholarly communications, thus ruling against the global warming denialist American Tradition Institute’s demand to make public climate scientist Michael Mann’s documents and email correspondence with dozens of other scientists during his time at UVa. This is an important victory in a case that threatened to send a chilling message to university scholars that they could no longer  expect to engage in personal communications without having the whole world reading over their shoulders.

Advertisements

  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Kurt in Switzerland

A scientist who is certain of his integrity and the soundness of his methods (which should already be confirmed by peer review, n’est-ce pas) need not be concerned about having the whole world looking over his shoulders. Indeed, it should be expected for any scientist on a publicly-funded grant.
This is far from over. Appeals being filed already?
Andy, share some of the hate mail you received as a result of the PBS interview. Your comments appeared far from anything which should have generated such a reaction.
Kurt in Switzerland

Leo Morgan

The taxpayer pays the salary of the people preparing these emails, on work computers, during work time. covering the topic of their work, and these scholarly communications are somehow confidential and exempt from Freedom of Information Laws?
Why?
The contents of those emails must be extremely disturbing if they believe they would create an even worse impression by releasing them than they do by withholding them.
What were the grounds of the dismissal- the fifth amendment?

pat

18 Sept: WaPo Local: Tom Jackman: U.Va. wins key ruling in Prince William global warming-FOIA case involving Michael Mann
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-state-of-nova/post/uva-wins-key-ruling-in-prince-william-global-warming-foia-case-involving-michael-mann/2012/09/18/6c422d98-0133-11e2-b257-e1c2b3548a4a_blog.html
18 Sept: Nature News Blog: Jeff Tollefson: Judge preserves privacy of climate scientist’s emails
http://blogs.nature.com/news/2012/09/judge-preserves-privacy-of-climate-scientists-emails.html

kwg1947

Andy, I agree with Kurt. Belly buttons, I know. LOL

Does the same thing apply to published articles and books already in the public domain? I don’t think so? As Kurt mentions if someone is paid money to do research their research should be peer reviewed and made public. You remember that famous case when the doctor who blew the whistle on an anti-prenatal sickness drug that caused deformities, actually did another and he was found his research results were not all what they were supposed to be? C’est la vie.

Chris W

Interesting. FOI is basically meaningless then…

Otter

Is ‘Andy’ Swiss for Anthony?
Just kidding, Kurt! You should see what they do to My name….
But yes. We want to hear the hate!

Kurt in Switzerland

Corrigendum: s/b “Anthony” not “Andy”! h/t to Otter
Excuse: I sometimes post comments over at Mr. Revkin’s NYT blog.
http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/12/academy-finds-mixed-climate-impacts-on-himalayan-glaciers-water-supplies/
Apologies to Mr. Watts, should he be offended by any comparison.
(Personally, I admire both: neither is afraid to challenge the choir nor discredits himself by censoring opposing views. Both appear genuinely interested in understanding the actual data and the underlying science, even if Andy Revkin is overly confident in the ability of “Climate Science” to police itself). Peer Review is in need of an overhaul; politicians, bullies and alarmists will always trump true scientists in any “consensus-building” exercise.
Kurt in Switzerland

When the Faux Democracy government, funds a Faux Science Club, to create a Faux Hypothesis to frame a benign, nearly inert, three atom combustion by-product….then it is in the BEST interest of the Faux Judicary to ignore FREEDOM of Information requests to protect the unscientific and illegal collusion necessary to create and expand the control of the Faux Democracy. Most lawyers and judges enter that, second oldest of prefessions, because they cannot do math or science. Career advancement then rests on reliable service to the Faux Democracy and not simplistic restraints of honesty and fair play. Appeal all you want, the airheads on the Supreme Court have already stated that illegal mandates are unconstitutional, unless viewed as a tax….and all the government wants to do is to tax AIR.

oldseadog

Otter, and Mr. Watts,
No, we don’t need to read the hate mail. These folk are sad enough already, we don’t need to add to their inflated egos by repeating what they say. Just ignore them.
Sticks and stones etc.

richardscourtney

Anthony:
Thankyou for this update.
I fail to understand the rejoicing in the link you provide. The judge has done what he said he would do to enable the case to continue.
In the previous transcript of the court hearing the judge told both ‘sides’ in the case to provide documents suitable for provision to the Supreme Court because he assumed an Appeal whatever decision he made.
Now the judge has decided to sustain the status quo until the Appeal he anticipates. Clearly, he could not have made any other decision when he anticipated that the case would continue to Appeal. And his decision means nothing except the judge is expecting the case to be passed to the Supreme Court: he had already written into the Court’s record that he expected that.
Richard

Dale

Kurt, speaking of bullying, it’s come out today (officially) that the CSIRO over here in Australia is in big trouble. A group of sacked CSIRO scientists have come out “alleging mismanagement and bullying are rife”. http://www.smh.com.au/national/scientists-bullied-or-forced-out-of-csiro-20120917-262yb.html
A Govt inquiry found 60 cases of complaints from sacked scientists accusing bullying within CSIRO. One, Maarten Stapper (agriculturist specialising in healthy soils) was sacked for speaking out against GM crops and advocating a healthier soils program. The Australian Govt receives massive cheques from Bayer and Monsanto to keep pushing GM via CSIRO.
Another, Trevor McDougall (arguably one of the world’s top oceanographers publishing highly regarded papers on ocean circulation and thermodynamics) spoke out against the IPCC models of ocean circulation and was sacked shortly after.
So it’s true what you say that politics and alarmists will trump true scientists.

“Scientists” may be the only class of public employ exempt from FOIA

cedarhill

Some comments at other sites speculate the judge decided the case on self-interest. The circuit judge stated the case was going up on appeal. He lives in the community around UVA. Their conclusion was “Doh? Why not keep the friends and family happy”. Sounds about right. This may or may not be appealed to SCOTUS, eventually. Perhaps a Federal suit later. It’s all about delay by UVA and proponents of continuing the money train. Transparency, to most on the Left and Greenies seem to be a point of deception and not illumination.

Rob

Tax payer funded???

Can’t understand why Mann is such a big climate ‘hockey stick’. He made his name as the AMO descriptor and reconstructor. Was that a scientific breakthrough?
I wouldn’t say so. Even I got results which are more accurate (1860-2010) :
http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/AMO-recon.htm

Shevva

As someone over at BH pointed out this is just the judge chickening out and handing it to the appeals court.
And reading through above Richard has said as well.

Katherine

Can ATI appeal the decision?

Ian H

As this ruling goes against the generally understood law in this area I’d say an appeal has a very good chance of success. It seems judges are not immune to noble cause corruption.

Man Bearpig

Oh well shrug your shoulders and wait for the appeal or next FOIA request .. (Mr Mann – It won’t go away!)

Peter Plail

richardscourtney says:
September 18, 2012 at 3:27 am
Thank you for that dose of reality – it does somewhat dent the claims of “victory” from ClimateScienceWatch.

prjindigo

Seriously, if you can’t keep work and play in separate e-mail addresses, you’ve already failed as a scientist.

kadaka (KD Knoebel)

prjindigo said on September 18, 2012 at 5:12 am:

Seriously, if you can’t keep work and play in separate e-mail addresses, you’ve already failed as a scientist.

So slandering and crushing those who are dissatisfied with your work, find fault with your work, and doing the same to anyone doing anything resembling agreeing with those people, isn’t part of work suitable for work email, but it’s “play” instead? At least for scientists?

chris y

Kurt in Switzerland- you say
“Personally, I admire both: neither is afraid to challenge the choir nor discredits himself by censoring opposing views.”
I enjoy your comments over at DotEarth, as well as the responses from the alarmist/Malthusian camp. I had one comment censored by DotEarth (not sure if Andy was involved, since he does not work for NYT). I quoted some gems from Michael Tobis to highlight his methods, in response to a post Andy made advertising Tobis’s new website, something 3.0 or other.
Ironically, the Tobis quotes I included ‘did not meet the standards’ of The Grey Lady.

observa

“Seriously, if you can’t keep work and play in separate e-mail addresses, you’ve already failed as a scientist.”
I think that’s the important point here that these people are at work in our employ as taxpayers and when they are involved in a controversy of such importance then the rules of condfidentiality no longer apply. If it’s good enough to call for directors and execs of private companies to come clean when there is controversy surrounding the effects of tobacco, an Erin Brokovich expose’, a thalidomide, etc, then it’s certainly good enough in this case after the Climategate emails and the various Exaggerationgates, etc came to the fore.
There is considerable billowing smoke to indicate a dangerous public fire behind it and there is community right to know here that overrides the normal need for privacy in academic and professional discourse. It is that very academis rigour and professionalism that has been called into public question now.

Peter Crawford

prjindigo says:
September 18, 2012 at 5:12 am
Seriously, if you can’t keep work and play in separate e-mail addresses, you’ve already failed as a scientist.
Correct. And if , like M.Mann, you spend your taxpayer-funded working day bitching, bickering, and bull*****ing on Facebook or Twitter you should get the boot.

Jollyfarmer
Robert Austin

If Mann’s emails are even remotely as appalling as the “conversations” in the SkS secret forum dump, I can see why they are so desperate to avoid FOIA.

starzmom

Has Mann filed his defamation lawsuit yet? There may be more than one way to do this.

I’ll provide a more chilling and restrictive environment- when govts provide monies for scientific research and select their recipients on the basis of political considerations. Isn’t it strange that
those groups that used to (and still do) insist upon the need for diversity, reject diversity when it means those not part of the herd happen to oppose their cherished beliefs.
Now, can anyone name a single scientific discipline whose subject matter is thoroughly understood and can be considered “settled,” with no issues in doubt? I can’t think of a single one : not astronomy, not physics, certainly none of the social sciences, which haven’t even achieved a
reliable level of categorization of their subject matter.

I can’t possibly be the only one to have posted a comment on ClimateScienceWatch?
“One Response to Court rules for Univ. of Virginia and Michael Mann against denialist inquisition – scholarly e-mail and documents are protected communication”
The mod must be deleting everything?

David L

The chilling message that the whole world would look over their shoulders. Welcome to my world in big Pharma. I have no protection. All my work is always available to any agency such as FDA for inspection. If a product is on a legal hold then every communication is locked down and available for legal purposes. It’s against the law to delete any email under legal hold. I’m glad scientists can sneak around without worry anyone will indpect their world and yet we all just need to believe them at their word. Nice.

KR

Good.
“If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him.” – Cardinal De Richelieu

Jim Clarke

I use to work for a local fire department. We were not allowed to delete any emails and keep a record of all correspondence done in the name of the department. If there was ever a request for any said documents, we were expected to produce them quickly and without question! That is the way it should be when one is paid by the tax payer.
If the University and Mann want to keep their correspondence private, then do not accept any money from the tax payers. As tax payers, we should refuse to grant them any funds until they stop keeping work secrets from those who fund their work.

Terry

You should consider creating a post on that hate mail. Put their nastiest stuff up for display for all to see just how nice these people really are. Should make for interesting reading.

John@EF

In my opinion, Chris Horner is nothing but a professional harasser operating under an umbrella of vested interest front organizations. He has no interest in truth seeking; it’s all about muck mining for anything spin-able. Unseemly. Good decision.

So will the harassment of Dr Mann continue? Climate science is surely the most scrutinised area of science now. Aren’t you skeptics just harassing him because you don’t like his message?

sorepaw

Subject to appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court.
It’s interesting how DeSmog Blog and other such outlets have chosen not to mention that. I had to go to the Washington Post story to verify it.
Has anything further come out about Michael Mann being offered a new professorship at UVA, which offer was then abruptly withdrawn? In the hullabaloo over the firing and reinstatement of UVA’s President, that little detail seems to have gotten lost.

Steve Keohane

John Brookes says:September 18, 2012 at 8:15 am Aren’t you skeptics just harassing him because you don’t like his message?
No, I don’t like his lies and phoney science.

Jimmy Haigh

John@EF says:
September 18, 2012 at 8:10 am
John Brookes says:
September 18, 2012 at 8:15 am
Here come the faithfull.

RHS

John Brookes, it isn’t so much that we don’t like his message as much as we don’t believe it without the underlying data. Mann has an agenda and his agenda is “everyone must believe blindly” because he is better/more educated than us. There are two parts to reality. One is, the public likes to make an educated decision without being spoon fed BS. The other is, he isn’t better than anyone else.

Doug in Seattle

What we have here is an example of one of the big problem that plagues America. What we are seeing is that money buys lawyers, who if really cleaver, can delay a case through the court system without a decision being reached. With enough money, the decision can be delayed until the other side runs out of money.

D. J. Hawkins

richardscourtney says:
September 18, 2012 at 3:27 am
Anthony:
Thankyou for this update.
I fail to understand the rejoicing in the link you provide. The judge has done what he said he would do to enable the case to continue.
In the previous transcript of the court hearing the judge told both ‘sides’ in the case to provide documents suitable for provision to the Supreme Court because he assumed an Appeal whatever decision he made.
Now the judge has decided to sustain the status quo until the Appeal he anticipates. Clearly, he could not have made any other decision when he anticipated that the case would continue to Appeal. And his decision means nothing except the judge is expecting the case to be passed to the Supreme Court: he had already written into the Court’s record that he expected that.
Richard

The big assumption here is that the Supremes will agree to hear the appeal. You can Google it, but only about 2% of the petitions that go before SCOTUS are accepted or otherwise acted upon. If you aren’t a lucky lottery winner, the lower court ruling becomes (or affirms) precedent. The judge didn’t do the public any favors by his ruling.

D. J. Hawkins

Katherine says:
September 18, 2012 at 4:29 am
Can ATI appeal the decision?

Chances that the Supreme Court will issue a writ of certiorari are slim to none, and Slim left town.

R.S.Brown

In the Commonwealth of Virginia, a citizen’s right to make requests for
information from Virginia and its political subdivisions and their employees is
enshrined in a series of laws, passed by thier elected representatives, signed by their
Governor, and is now being interpreted, instance by instance, by their court system.
See:
http://198.246.135.1/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+2.2-3700
for the sequence of Virginia FOI laws.
Remember, this case is based on Virginia law, applied to a Virginia institution (UVa)
concering work done on instititutional equipment by a former employee (Dr. Mann) .
This recent ruling comes from a Virginia court dealing with Virginia law.
It will be appealed (probably) to a Virginia appeals court based on assignments of
error having been made by
this judge in his interprtation/application of
Virginia law.

RB

Richard Courtney,
Quite right, but in fact I think the judge has done more than that if ATI’s recent release is an accurate account of what happened. He dismissed First Amendment and academic freedom arguments, accepted ATI’s arguments that FOI applies, apparently dismissed out of hand Mann’s intervention essentially calling it a nuisance, and sent the parties to appeal based on the interpretation of the statutory word “proprietory” and the breadth of the relevant FOI exemption.
It only needs the appeal to disagree with that intepretation or draw a more narrow view of the extent of that FOI exemption and the decision is turned on its head.

Political Junkie

@ D. J Hawkins,
The next step is th VIRGINIA Supreme Court.

richardscourtney

D. J. Hawkins:
Sincere thanks for your message addressed to me at September 18, 2012 at 8:58 am.
Please note that I am not an American so my only view is the transcript of the hearing. When that transcript appeared in April nobody made your point that says

The big assumption here is that the Supremes will agree to hear the appeal. You can Google it, but only about 2% of the petitions that go before SCOTUS are accepted or otherwise acted upon. If you aren’t a lucky lottery winner, the lower court ruling becomes (or affirms) precedent. The judge didn’t do the public any favors by his ruling.

Indeed, on April 17, 2012 WUWT copied an article from the NYT by Tom Jackman. The WUWT thread is headed “Prince William climate case judge already anticipating the appeal”.
The article and the thread did not mention your point.
So, from a basis of my genuine ignorance of the fact, I would welcome confirmation of your statement that it is a “lottery” whether the case can go to Appeal. It does seem to have great importance.
Richard

David Ross

Apologies for being off topic. But can anyone give me advice on embedding images into the body of articles submitted to WUWT. Also, embedding hyperlinks into article text.
[Reply: You must be a moderator to embed images. But you can cut and paste the image address, and readers can click on the URL to view it. — mod.]

The most recent issue of the UVA alumni monthly magazine devoted most of its pages to the dismissal and reinstatement affair of Dr. Teresa Sullivan as University President. The recurring assertion/speculation as to the justification for the dismissal was the U’s budget. Yet, there was not one mention or even a hint in all that ink that spending $100Ks on dodging the FOIA request was a factor, despite such a sum being non-trivial to that budget. The sum will only increase to answer appeals.