Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Even skeptics see the VA Atty General as another McCarthy

(I was going to write about rock-climbing in Yosemite, but I guess that'll have to wait.)

Today a few people who might otherwise get the term denialists have earned the skeptic moniker for a day, for opposing the Virginia Attorney General fishing expedition that seeks virtually all records held by the University of Virginia regarding a former researcher Michael Mann who believes in climate change, while AG Cuccinelli doesn't.

More info at Deltoid, including a list of some skeptics who've done the right thing. I'd add, with reservations, the climate action diversionist Roger Pielke Jr. Reservations stem from the fact that Roger can't resist stabbing Mann in the face a few times during the blog post condemning Cuccinelli and offering his "support" for Mann.

The fishing expedition request is here. Timpanogos has a good link roundup. Regarding his thought that the statute of limitations has been exceeded, I don't think so - the section he quotes only applies to actions by private parties, not the AG. There's this section of the law, though:

§ 8.01-216.12. Civil investigative demands; protected material or information.

A civil investigative demand issued under this article shall not require the production of any documentary material, the submission of any answers to written interrogatories, or the giving of any oral testimony if such material, answers, or testimony would be protected from disclosure under (i) the standards applicable to subpoenas or subpoenas duces tecum issued by a court of this Commonwealth to aid in a grand jury investigation or (ii) the standards applicable to discovery requests under the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia, to the extent that the application of such standards to any such demand is appropriate and consistent with the provisions and purposes of this article.

I'm thinking this could provide a reason for UVa to stand up to the AG, if they wanted to, just like they could fight any unreasonable subpoena. The AG isn't going after anyone else though, not Mann directly (Roger missed this part) so only the university has a choice. I think.

Would be useful to have lawyers who practice in these fields to weigh in on this stuff.

UPDATE: Ed Darrell of Timpanogos found a better link showing the statute of lims section does apply to the Attorney General. OTOH, my not-super-informed opinion is that the reference for those "responsible to act" means the Attorney General, not the officials supervising Mann, so either that provision applies, or the end of Mann's work in 2004-2005 comes under the six-year limit.


  1. Brian, turns out I had quoted a version of the law from a site that may not be authoritative. When I looked it up at the Virginia Legislature site, that SOF provision specifically applied to the AG's investigations as well as private suits (qui tam). Of course, that site may not be authoritative, either.

    Thanks for dropping by, and if you're successful in finding some lawyer who works in the area, to comment, I'd love to see it.

  2. Since all but one of the cited awards was NOT a grant from the State of Virginia, and the one that was did not have Mann as a PI, where does Cuccinelli have standing?

  3. Maybe that grant is all they've got to go on. Or maybe they're just relying on the use of UVa facilities. The whole thing stinks to me, though. I hope some Virginia lawyers are getting ethics complaints ready for the VA Bar Association.


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