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Virginian decision

The Supreme Court of the state of Virginia is currently considering the case of Michael Mann's emails and it may be that an opinion will be offered tomorrow, as this Virginia FOI blog explains:

Later this week, probably on Thursday, April 17th, the Supreme Court of Virginia will release its next batch of opinions.  The Court hears cases in sessions, which happen about every 6-8 weeks.  By tradition, the Court releases all published opinions in cases argued at the previous session on the last day of the next session.  The Court isn’t required to follow that schedule; it can take as long as it wants.  But month in and month out, the Court follows its traditional schedule in all manner of cases, complicated and simple, controversial and not.

It is cause for raised eyebrows therefore that the Court missed its usual timeframe on one case (record no. 130934) argued in January: the entity formerly known as the American Tradition Institute (ATI) and Virginia Delegate (and Congressional candidate) Bob Marshall v. the University of Virginia and former UVA professor Michael Mann.  This is pure speculation, but there may be multiple opinions or close questions where the Court wanted to write carefully.  For our purposes, the key points are that a FOIA case has reached Virginia’s top court, with significant implications for all Virginia citizens.


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Reader Comments (24)

To be honest I have no expectation of UVA or Mann being forced to open their books to anyone. It seems the reality is climate scientists are untouchable.


Apr 16, 2014 at 3:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

I expect the judges are watching the thermometer, and may have noted the recent tough winter.

Apr 16, 2014 at 4:07 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

I have no real hopes that Mann will ever be forced to hand over his communications.

Lysenko was in power from the 20s and it took over 10 years after Stalin's death before he was finally denounced. So we may have to wait sometime yet before sanity returns.

Apr 16, 2014 at 4:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

OK, speculating wildly, no opinion release this week. Judges hate to be made fools of, and discovery in the Mann/Steyn case may soon expose these Supreme Court judges to the possibility. If there is release, it will favor the FOI actors, for the judges will have found enough tomfoolery already.

Apr 16, 2014 at 4:23 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

I'm afraid my eyebrows have refused to rise to the occasion.

It's always the case that someone is pulling strings behind the scenes when climate scientists and law come under the microscope.

Apr 16, 2014 at 4:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterTim Spence

I think the judges are on the horns of a dilemma. On the one hand they can find no good reason why an employee of the state should consider emails written during that employment to be personal, and therefore private from his employers. On the other hand they don't want to hand over the emails for political reasons.

My guess is they're trying to find a way to keep the emails away from prying eyes without, themselves, breaking the law.

Apr 16, 2014 at 4:55 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Heh, geronimo, the vaunted American Rule of Law. I'm inclined to agree with you.

Apr 16, 2014 at 5:31 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

The Bish's whole link is worth reading. The amicus briefs highlight a class struggle, hoi polloi vs the elite.

Apr 16, 2014 at 5:46 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

It'll all be done in the best possible taste ( K. Everett). Close to horse sh*t I reckon.

Apr 16, 2014 at 6:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterEx-expat Colin

"At least set an example". This from the man who flies his own plane to buy a cheeseburger. I kid you not:

Apr 16, 2014 at 6:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul

I daresay it's my age, but I can't read the word 'Virginian' without seeing Lee J.Cobb and Doug McClure, in a rather different context. More entertaining that Michael Mann, though.

Apr 16, 2014 at 6:32 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

And James Drury, whom I am inordinately proud of not having to look up. Sad innit.

Apr 16, 2014 at 7:50 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

If we can't read Mann's emails I'll have to get David Icke's latest book. Sometimes I just want to read the rantings of a paranoid and delusional lunatic.

Apr 16, 2014 at 9:14 PM | Unregistered Commenterjaffa

jaffa said:

If we can't read Mann's emails I'll have to get David Icke's latest book. Sometimes I just want to read the rantings of a paranoid and delusional lunatic.

Hmm. I wonder if David Icke has anything to say about climate change? If he is sceptical about anthropogenic global warming then Lewandowsky will be delighted!

Apr 16, 2014 at 10:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

Meh, the US Supreme Court judges are owned by the Left. Don't expect to see any positive outcome.

Apr 17, 2014 at 12:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterStreetcred

The main contentions appear to be ownership, cost and copyright. However the UVa does not appear to have considered these issues important before giving Mann the emails which I presume included many written to him or copied to him by others.

For the UVa allowing the court to make the decision to release the emails would avoid any potential legal consequences from the litigious and well funded Mann which might arise if they were to make that decision themselves.

Apr 17, 2014 at 12:52 AM | Unregistered Commenter52

David Icke is, in fact, extremely sceptical of CAGW. He holds the proponents of CAGW in as much contempt as I. I don't class CAGW as a conspiracy: it's just scam.

Apr 17, 2014 at 5:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh

Court has a problem. Rules for Mann and the Virginia FOI statute is gutted. No sunshine ever. Which, given the MSM interest in the case may not be attractive. Plus Mann is not nearly as pristine as he was a few years ago.

I suspect the Court is going to run with a legislative intent argument and release the which point the peckerhead will file an appeal.

More likely we see the emails as a result of Steyn or Ball's discovery demands.

Apr 17, 2014 at 6:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterJay Currie

"The Court missed its usual timeframe"

Who brought pressure to bare after a sneak preview of the publication and is the Court kowtowing and editing?

"with significant implications for all".

Apr 17, 2014 at 7:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn


Where would they appeal to?


Apr 17, 2014 at 9:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

"To be honest I have no expectation of UVA or Mann being forced to open their books to anyone. It seems the reality is climate scientists are untouchable."

The whole UNFCCC theme has been severely politicized and to much is at stake for the democrats etc.. The tricky part is for the court to hide Mann's policy based and funded science data from the public without by doing that confirming that the court is politicized to?

Apr 17, 2014 at 10:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterJon

UVA prevailed. So much for the FOIA. Well, let's see what Steyn can do.

Apr 17, 2014 at 3:03 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Summary of decision:

American Tradition Inst. v. Rector and Visitors 04/17/2014 The circuit court was correct in denying a request for disclosure of certain documents under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act. The purpose of the higher education research exemption under Code § 2.2-3705.4(4) for "information of a proprietary nature" is to avoid competitive harm, not limited to financial matters. The definition of "proprietary" in prior case law, that it is "a right customarily associated with ownership, title, and possession, an interest or a right of one who exercises dominion over a thing or property, of one who manages and controls," is consistent with that goal and the circuit court did not err in applying that definition. Viewing the facts in the light most favorable to the university that prevailed below, it produced sufficient evidence to meet each of the higher education research exemption’s seven requirements. Also, in the context of the Code § 2.2-3704(F) provision allowing a public entity to make reasonable charges for its actual cost incurred in accessing, duplicating, supplying or searching for requested records, "searching" includes inquiry into whether a disputed document can be released under federal or state law, and this statute permits a public body to charge a reasonable fee for exclusion review. The circuit court's judgment excluding disputed documents and approving such cost recovery is affirmed, and final judgment is entered in favor of the university.

Link to full decision

Apr 17, 2014 at 3:10 PM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

Anyone surprised?


Apr 17, 2014 at 3:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

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