We Took U. of Virginia to Court Over Michael Mann’s Records

We (American Tradition Institute’s Environmental Law Center) figured four-plus months and $4,000 was enough to give the University of Virginia to start producing the records we requested that pertain to their former Climategate scientist Michael Mann — you know, Mr. Transparency who is now at Penn State — so on Monday we asked a judge to force the issue:

Since (Jan. 6) UVA officials have demanded an unjustified and unsupportable sum of $8,500 from ATI to produce the documents, despite its admission that it knows precisely where the records exist on a specific University computer server. Still, ATI made a down payment of $2,000 for UVA to begin its search and delivery of Mann’s records – and also a second payment, for a total paid of $4,000.00 – but University officials still have not provided any documents, nor offered a schedule of its intentions to respond to ATI’s information request….

ATI has requested the same records under Virginia’s FOIA law. UVA has informed ATI it might withhold many of the records sought by ATI under a “proprietary research” exclusion in the law. However, that exemption only applies to research that “has not been publicly released, published, copyrighted or patented” and is otherwise of actual value to UVA. Clearly that exception does not apply to Dr. Mann’s emails a la ClimateGate, sought in ATI’s request, or to his research records given the work in question has been in the public domain for over a decade, was published in academic journals Nature and Geophysical Research Letters, by the IPCC, and elsewhere.

UVA has resisted a previous request by Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli under the state’s Fraud Against Taxpayers Act for the same records, with the help of $500,000 from private, anonymous donors (so the University says). Also, leftist groups including People for the American Way, ACLU-Virginia, Union of Concerned Scientists, and American Association of University Professors have pleaded with UVA to withhold Mann’s records for reasons of “academic freedom” — you know, similar to the illegitimate authority of “bureaucratic freedom” so often cited by other government institutions as an excuse to keep documents under wraps.

We hope to hear about a court date by Friday.