From ‘amazing tales of the vexatious’. Climate Change Dispatch writes:
In a clear slap in the face, the Virginia Supreme Court awarded Michael E. Mann and the University of Virginia a piddling $250 in damages in the email FOIA case. Showing the triviality of the manner, the court’s order (shown here) didn’t even specify the rationale for the derisory amount.
From The Daily Reporter:
The court’s recent order only states the amount of damages that the Energy & Environmental Legal Institute must pay. It doesn’t provide details about the rationale behind the award.
The institute sued in 2011 after U.Va. refused to turn over emails requested by the nonprofit conservative group under Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act. The Supreme Court rejected the group’s attempt to obtain the emails in April, saying retired Arlington Circuit Court Judge Paul Sheridan was right when he ruled that Mann’s emails were exempt from the law because they were proprietary records dealing with scholarly research.
Of course Mann’s incredible ego won’t allow him to see this as a slap in the face, he comments in The Daily Reporter:
“The damages in my view are symbolic,” Mann told The Daily Progress (http://bit.ly/1raJi0m) “What is important is not the $250 itself but the recognition by the court of the frivolous and pernicious nature of the (institute’s) suit.”
Mann, who is now a professor and researcher at Penn State University, said he planned to donate his award to the Climate Science Defense Fund. He said the fund exists “to assist scientists being attacked this way.”
What’s Mann’s hyperinflated ego can’t seem to assimilate, are these facts:
- FOIA is a law, it was put in place specifically so that taxpayer money couldn’t be used for government business without public disclosure. It is not the same as “don’t ask, don’t tell” which is what Mann seems to think applies to his work, IMHO.
- Because it is a law, it is a right to pursue. Asking for work correspondence and work product funded on the taxpayer’s dime is fair game, no matter what the judge says, IMHO.
- If Mann had no issues with the contents of those emails, we wouldn’t see him fighting so hard to protect them. This business about him doing it “for the greater good of science” is a load of bullpuckey to give him hero status, IMHO.
- As we’ve seen in the climategate emails, and more recently in the peer review ring busted and in The PNAS ‘old boys’ club’, the process of science and peer review seems to be more political, than logical. One wonders what sort of similar examples exist that have yet to be discovered.
- Mann is the only climate scientist to launch personal lawsuits against others, there seems to be no examples of the reverse from climate skeptics, personally suing Michael Mann or his peers. The idea of the “Climate Science Legal Defense Fund”, purportedly setup specifically for Mann, seems to be more about offense, than defense.
If I were ATI, I’d send him that $250 in pennies, which is fully legal tender, but also speaks to the triviality of Mann’s complaint, and the fact that the “Climate Science Legal Defense Fund” isn’t about defense as much as it is offense.
UPDATE: From David Schnare, General Counsel, Energy & Environment Legal Institute
There is a lot of misunderstanding about the $250 “damages” assessed by the Court. Any appellant that loses their appeal in the Virginia Supreme Court has to make this payment to the opposing party. It is generally intended to pay for the costs of printing of briefs. It does not include attorney’s fees or any other costs. Mann won’t get a cent. It all goes to the University who may or may not have to transfer it to the Attorney General’s coffers since that is who represented the University and who had to pay for preparation of their briefs.
More importantly, this is not all over. The court only decided the meaning of the term “of a proprietary nature” and they took our (plaintiffs) definition verbatim. They just refused to admit that which was their way of denying us our costs and fees. (We used over $300,000 worth of our time on this case, and thousands of dollars in costs.) What the court did not do was to discuss the rest of the “research exemptions” and that will come up with the next case that is already in the pipeline. That FOIA is seeking all emails associated with John Daly, Steve McIntyre and the IPCC. As none of those were collected by or for the faculty in pursuit of a research project sponsored by UVA, they should not be subject to being withheld. We will see what slimy games the University next plays to prevent the release of those documents. We’ll keep you informed.