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« WSJ on Svensmark | Main | The blooming Heather »
Tuesday
Sep062011

Law Mann

The American Tradition Institute have just revealed that Michael Mann has engaged lawyers to try to intervene in the FOIA case between the institute and the University of Virginia.

Dr. Michael Mann, lead author of the discredited "hockey stick" graph that was once hailed by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as the "smoking gun" of the catastrophic man-made global warming theory, has asked to intervene in American Tradition Institute's Freedom of Information Act lawsuit that seeks certain records produced by Mann and others while he was at the University of Virginia, for the purpose of keeping them hidden from the taxpayer.

Specifically over the weekend ATI's Environmental Law Center received service from two Pennsylvania attorneys who seek the court's permission to argue for Dr. Mann to intervene in ATI's case. The attorneys also filed a motion to stay production of documents still withheld by UVA, which are to be provided to ATI's lawyers in roughly two weeks under a protective order that UVA voluntarily agreed to in May. Dr. Mann's lawyers also desire a hearing in mid-September, in an effort to further delay UVA's scheduled production of records under the order.

Dr. Mann's argument, distilled, is that the court must bend the rules to allow him to block implementation of a transparency law, so as to shield his sensibilities from offense once the taxpayer – on whose dime he subsists – sees the methods he employed to advance the global warming theory and related policies. ATI's Environmental Law Center is not sympathetic.

Read the whole thing.

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Reader Comments (67)

How is he going to get around this, the Commonwealth of Virginia’s responsible use policy for state employees (his employment at the Univ. of Virginia made Mann a state employee):

Policy: 1.75 – Use of Electronic Communications And Social Media
Effective Date: 8/1/01
Revision Date: 3/17/11

USE OF ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS AND
SOCIAL MEDIA

Application: All state employees, including employees of agencies exempt from coverage
of the Virginia Personnel Act.

NOTE: Agencies may also require consultants, contract personnel, or other non-employees
such as volunteers or interns to abide by this policy.

Agencies have the following responsibilities and requirements related to this policy.

A. Monitor Usage
No user shall have any expectation of privacy in any message, file, image or data
created, sent, retrieved, received, or posted in the use of the Commonwealth’s equipment
and/or access. Agencies have a right to monitor any and all aspects of electronic
communications and social media usage. Such monitoring may occur at any time,
without notice, and without the user’s permission.

In addition, except for exemptions under the Act, electronic records may be subject to
the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and, therefore, available for public distribution.

Sep 6, 2011 at 9:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterGarry

Here's the URL:

http://www.dhrm.state.va.us/hrpolicy/pol175UseOfInternet.pdf

Sep 6, 2011 at 9:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterGarry

This seems like the latest attempt to aim at ones own foot. What a set of jokers the Team really are. Have they no commonsense? Pass them the ammunition and the shovels. It is getting more and more entertaining.

There must be some really big bodies hidden in there.

Sep 6, 2011 at 10:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Most people who are innocent, look forward to the earliest opportunity to prove it..

Sep 6, 2011 at 10:50 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley

Garry, he can't win the case. Instead I suspect what he is really trying to do is to delay (possibly for years) the production of the emails. To see how this is done in US courts, see SCO vs Novell; SCO vs IBM; SCO vs Redhat; SCO vs Auto Zone; SCO vs ...

In SCO's case, they used a very cleaver technique of filing a series of cross-jurisdiction cases and then filing motions in each case to stay the case pending the resolution of the other cases! It took years for the courts to sort it all out.

I don't know exactly how Mann will do it -- but I suspect his lawyers have something up their sleeves.

Mann's biggest risk right now is that the judge rules he has no standing at a preliminary hearing in September and constructs the ruling in a way that leaves no room for appeal. But if Mann whips up a big political and media frenzy over this (which I suspect he will do), then the judge will likely err on the side of a full hearing of the matter -- which opens to door to big time delay.

Sep 6, 2011 at 10:52 PM | Unregistered Commentermpaul

Is Mann paying for the lawyers himself? I wouldn't have thought too many scientists, even "scientists", could afford to pay lawyers fees for the weeks, let alone the months or years, this could drag on.

Sep 6, 2011 at 11:09 PM | Unregistered Commenterartwest

My PSU Science degree keeps getting more worthless every day this guy gets paid (to not work) there.

Sep 6, 2011 at 11:16 PM | Unregistered Commenterdfbaskwill

mpaul
I don't know exactly how Mann will do it -- but I suspect his lawyers have something up their sleeves.

Yes, you make very good points, but in the end they will have to take off their shirts and show all. The only winners are the lawyers, but they already (at least the lawyers) know that.

In the end Mikey will end up in the dust bin of history along with Lysenko.

Sep 6, 2011 at 11:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo del la Sierra

artwest says:
"Is Mann paying for the lawyers himself?"

In Mann's "Motion of Notice to Intervene, link
we find this:

"Recently, through a fund raising effort by the scientific community, Dr. Mann was able to raise sufficient funds to retain counsel to request an opportunity to intervene and assert his individual rights in this matter."

I read this to mean that the Union of Concerned Scientists are funding this. Surely this has been a fund raising bonanza for them.

Sep 6, 2011 at 11:47 PM | Unregistered Commentermpaul

mpaul, would that be a union of scientists, very concerned that their future research grants may dry up, should these e-mails get released?

If so, they must have an idea what is in them, and presumably were involved in some of the correspondence

The U of CS is therefore fighting for its own existence. Loyalty to Mann does not come into it

Sep 6, 2011 at 11:59 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley

Wonder if he realizes he has to pay taxes on this? Wouldn't that be a hoot... taken down by the IRS.

Mark

Sep 7, 2011 at 12:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterMark T

artwest: "Is Mann paying for the lawyers himself?"
In his petition, Mann says that he's passed the hat for lawyers' fees: "Recently, through a fundraising effort by the scientific community, Dr. Mann was able to raise sufficient funds to retain counsel..."
.
I find the logic of the motion strained at best...naturally, that will not inhibit any lawyer from proceeding. :) Mann has set forward no arguments beyond what UVa has already asserted regarding academic freedom etc., which have already been ruled upon, resulting in the court orders currently in force. I don't know why the judge wouldn't throw the motion out immediately. Especially since the timing is so fortuitous, with a hearing only a week before the UVa's deadline to produce the emails which it believes is exempt from FoIA.

There are claims such as "Petitioners [ATI] initiated this action against the University simply because it
happens to be the one in possession of these e-mails because they remain on its computer server. Nonetheless, the Petition leaves no doubt that the thrust of Petitioners' attack is against Dr. Mann and his e-mail communications." Now, I happen to agree with the last sentence, but the claim is completely irrelevant in law. First, the e-mails are not his property; second, the intentions of the requester are irrelevant to the FoIA.

It's also amusing to read the motion and see that even lawyers can't seem to get their indexing straight...in the beginning, an affidavit from Mann is described as Exhibit A and the May Court Order as Exhibit B, but later on, the Mann affidavit is given as Exhibit B. [I suspect the exhibits got reordered during editing the motion and not all references were updated.]

Sep 7, 2011 at 12:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterHaroldW

mpaul - Yes his laywers can play these legal tricks. But every time they do a blog somewhere is going to headline "Mann plays yet another legal trick: what has he got to hide?"

That is going to be toxic to his cause, and its going to go on for a long, long time.

And if someone else pays his legal fees the IRS is going to want some income tax. So he'll ask whoever his backer is to pay more to cover the tax component too. I can see millions and millions being siphoned out of some green political organisation somewhere. Oh how sad.

Sep 7, 2011 at 12:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterBruce

Hey, Josh ... how about a reverse hockey-stick graph - showing Mann, his trials and rapidly declining credibility [dragging down The Team, at the same time?] ;-)

Sep 7, 2011 at 12:24 AM | Unregistered Commenterhro001

So he'll ask whoever his backer is to pay more to cover the tax component too.

Which gets taxed, too. It is vicious, that cycle.

Mark

Sep 7, 2011 at 12:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterMark T

Mann has such a brilliant career in front of him.

Not.

He is a self inflicted wound that is slowly festering and pussing up all over his reputation.

Sep 7, 2011 at 12:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterFred from Canuckistan

In his petition, Mann says that he's passed the hat for lawyers' fees: "Recently, through a fundraising effort by the scientific community, Dr. Mann was able to raise sufficient funds to retain counsel..."

So I wonder if he will recuse himself from revieweing papers written by those who donated.

Sep 7, 2011 at 12:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn M

What does 'boilerplate' mean again?

Sep 7, 2011 at 1:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

It means a template or interchangeable document. You just file off the names and put the new ones on and off you go.
Basically, a very common document or paragraph that you can (and do!) reuse again and again with minimal variation.

Sep 7, 2011 at 1:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterBryce

And a lot of the climate scientists seem to really, really like doing that...

Sep 7, 2011 at 1:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterBryce

@mark t.

Individual gifts up to a threshold ($10k/year?) are non taxable per my recollection. Is there an accountant in the house?

Sep 7, 2011 at 3:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterDGH

This move suggests he's got more to hide than a decline...

Sep 7, 2011 at 4:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterTomRude

Individual gifts up to a threshold ($10k/year?) are non taxable per my recollection. Is there an accountant in the house?

$13,000 per individual. He will need a lot of friends. The lawyers will eat through that in a day.

Sep 7, 2011 at 4:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

What does 'boilerplate' mean again?

I think it is going to turn out to be a Broiler Plate. A plate you roast meat on like on a grill. Often use in hamburger places where flame is over the meat. They are incorrectly but commonly called the grill. Mikey will be roasted for sure. And probably very well done -- crispy critter in fact.

This move suggests he's got more to hide than a decline...

Yes, indeed. But how will he hide his decline? It's going to be all over the blogosphere.

Sep 7, 2011 at 4:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

ATI’s Environmental Law Center seem to be laughing up their sleeves at the latest attempt by Mann.

Following so closely on the heels of the Kevin Trenberth foolishness would appear to make one think that neither of the two parties should be issued gun licences, simply to protect their own feet!

Why would Mann step in at this late stage and not earlier? Did he know the first batch of emails would be harmless or was he to busy running around with his hat? Either way, he seems quite worried at the moment. There is something there for sure otherwise why throw good money at lawyers?

Sep 7, 2011 at 5:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterPete H

One more question! Why do I keep getting a picture in my head of Al Capone surrounded by lawyers, in court, facing the I.R.S.?

Sep 7, 2011 at 5:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterPete H

"Recently, through a fundraising effort by the scientific community, Dr. Mann was able to raise sufficient funds to retain counsel..."

Sounds as though somewhere out there in non-profit-land, a consortium of sympathetic, well-endowed groups (some of which might even have "science" in their name or letters patent) have established a foundation (which should be) named: "Interagency Foundation for the Defense of Indefensible Scientists" (IFDIS)

Mann's legal fees could then be very conveniently billed to and paid by IFDIS - thereby allowing Mann to ... uh ..."hide the incline" in his personal income and/or taxes due.

Sep 7, 2011 at 5:47 AM | Unregistered Commenterhro001

Is there any news of the progress of Mann's libel suit again Dr/Professor Ball in Canada?

Sep 7, 2011 at 7:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Carr

Have not heard about his libel suit but he is not funding that, either.

Mark

Sep 7, 2011 at 9:31 AM | Unregistered Commentermark t

What will happen if it is found out that Mann has deleted the relevant emails?
Just like happened at UEA.

Sep 7, 2011 at 9:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

There has to be evidence of some malpractice in those emails. I worked with emails, like everyone else, for over twenty years and cannot think of one that I wouldn't allow public scrutiny of. Arising from this I have a question for Richard Betts and Jonathan Jones : Are the emails that we saw in the climate gate revelations normal amongst scientists?

Sep 7, 2011 at 9:42 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Wouldn’t it be more appropriate if the University developed a leak or taught a hacker instead of protecting the lair?

Sep 7, 2011 at 10:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn

Re. Tim Ball.s legal cases(2) He cannot comment himself for legal reasons. I find it realy alarming this tactic of "the gang" to silence people like Tim who do not have vast financial resourses to defend cases so have to retract or face ruin. I believe Mann et al did not expect Tim to defend the actions but they may have scored an own goal because under Canadian Libel Law the Judge can demand evidence from the other side. The effect of the Legal challence is even more sinsiter because of the effect it has intimidating others from any critical comments. I would appreciate any information from anyone better informed than me. He has a fighting fund to donate go to his blog.

Sep 7, 2011 at 10:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoss Lea

For give the spelling errors. I am dyslexic.

Sep 7, 2011 at 10:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoss Lea

This gets odder and odder.

One has to question the mentality of Mickey and his cronies. By trying to intervene at this late stage, he only increases the suspicion that there is something terribly damaging in those e-mails that he wants to keep hidden. His move will increase, not decrease scrutiny of his actions.

And the identity of his backers will eventually become clear. It will do their public image no good at all to be seen to be associated with such a dodgy character as Mann.

Perhaps they still imagine that the world is their oyster and that they are Masters of the Universe - as they may have done for a brief period before Climategate. But the Bonfire of those Vanities has long since burnt out and its a much colder and less inviting place for the warmists than it used to be.

This is going to turn out very interesting. I just cannot see what Mann will ever get out of it.

Sep 7, 2011 at 10:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

I suppose it's the natural destiny of climate science, to be decided in a Court of Law...

Sep 7, 2011 at 10:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito

LA says:
"This is going to turn out very interesting. I just cannot see what Mann will ever get out of it."

Perhaps what's in the emails will create a situation is far worse than just damaging Mann's reputation.

You know how it works on the inside, if you do something that damages the collective unconsensus - the disappointed look and that nod of the head that casts you out, forever.

Sep 7, 2011 at 10:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterShub

@shub

Like Mann slagging off Jones as a superannuated doddering old buffoon and speculating that Jim Hansen should be in the funny farm? Or that Schmidt is a bald blustering bully?

Or even worse, getting outside statistical advice that his work is bollox, and blatantly failing to have regard to it,

That'll be fun........

Sep 7, 2011 at 10:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

@mpaul Sep 6, 2011 at 10:52 PM "Mann's biggest risk right now is that the judge rules he has no standing:"

That really is the only pertinent issue. The judge cannot easily rule that Mann does have standing, since doing so would invalidate the existing Commonwealth of Virginia computer use policies (posted above,and I note that this is the Virginia state policy, not simply that of UVA) and the terms of his employment, not to mention similar commercial and corporate computer use polices and practices throughout the entire state. Such policies and practices are longstanding matters of law, not just in Virginia but throughout the United States, and I don't believe any sane judge would call these into question for the sake of Michael Mann's enormous ego. To do so would be to fundamentally invalidate or at least to weaken the tens of millions of identical employment agreements throughout America. I don't think that's going to happen. Mann will be ruled to have no standing.

Sep 7, 2011 at 11:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterGarry

Seeing that the ATI lawyers seem to regard Mann's legal trick with great equanimity, I can't help wondering if Mann has actually ever pondered the old saying about what the Gods do first to those they want to destroy ...

Sep 7, 2011 at 11:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterViv Evans

Why would Mann be surprised by all of this? If the planet's future is at stake, nobody's important or special ...ask W Wagner of Vienna, Austria for details..

Sep 7, 2011 at 12:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito

I don't want to appear as a devil's advocate for the loathsome Dr Mann, but there are, potentially, lots of other reasons why he may not want his university e-mails to be read by the public (or lawyers).

The assumption has always been that he is hiding something that will reflect badly on his climate misdeeds and activism. Consider the possibility that the e-mails may in fact contain some other manner of indiscretion; something sexual, or financial, or politically incorrect. Just because he is hiding something doesn't mean it is the thing we think it is.

Also, if you were very conspiracy minded, imagine that he has absolutely nothing to hide. The entire exercise in making everyone jump through hoops to get at his e-mails would then, upon the release of them, show that he is innocent and blameless and thereby casting the ‘evil’ sceptics as the villains. Just a thought.

The Guardian recently worked itself into a frenzy about the release of Sarah Palin's email archive. They readied themselves for a torrent of dumb-ass revelations, even recruiting readers to crowd source the emails. Unfortunately (for them) the archive didn't live up to its billing. The 'purge' was quietly dropped.

I don't for one second think that Mann is clever enough to organise a deception that sneaky though. It doesn't fit with the abusive and impulsive Dr Mann that we have all seen operating in the past.

Sep 7, 2011 at 12:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-record

I don't understand how Mann can launch a legal case, surly the emails are the property of the University not Mann; shouldn't the Univesity be the only one who could launch a legal rebuttle?

Sep 7, 2011 at 12:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterJason F

@stuck record

Mann has a substantial track record of having things to hide. HSI is substantially about how McIntyre unhid them despite Mann's best efforts. I find it difficult to imagine that his pattern of behaviour changed substantially. By nature he is a hider.

Sep 7, 2011 at 12:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

Stuck-record

Mann shouldn't have been using his work email for personal use.

Sep 7, 2011 at 12:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterJason F

I don't think the issue is about Mickey telling the dudes he's got a brand new fishing line they ought to test at the weekend

Sep 7, 2011 at 12:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito

Latimer, as I said, it doesn't fit his previous behaviour at all. I'm simply trying to point out that just because he has something to hide, it doesn't follow logically from that it is about climate science (or even the aspect of climate science we are concerned about – it could conceivably be something even worse!). As I said, it probably is what we think it is, but one-track thinking is how the 'Team' got into this problem in the first place. It's beholden on us not to fall prey to it.

Jason, that's an example of what I'm trying to get at. Imagine if Dr man's e-mail archive is riddled with the most moronic or embarrassing personal chitchat. Imagine if he's an obsessive fan of the X-factor, or the Olsen twins. Of course he shouldn't have done it using his work e-mail. That would be the point of his embarrassment.

Sep 7, 2011 at 1:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-record

@stuck-record @Jason F.

To date Mann has had no legal standing in this matter, which has been between ATI and UVA.

Mann's attempt to assert legal standing is preposterous. He doesn't "own" those emails. They are the exclusive property and in custody of UVA. Mann expressly gave up any rights to privacy of employee email simply by becoming an employee of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Sep 7, 2011 at 1:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterGarry

Quite agree. And I hope he fails in this laughable attempt, is found out and (hopefully) disgraced.

It was just a plea to avoid always thinking 'inside the box'. There is a tendency among the skeptical community for us to think we know 'why' Team and govt are doing what they are. Sometime this allows us to be played.

Sometimes I don't think we credit them with enough stupidity.

Sep 7, 2011 at 1:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

This is a lot of effort and money to cover up some private life irregularities, and with his track record of intimidation, I do not buy the innocence theory

Sep 7, 2011 at 2:12 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley

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