Vivian Paige pulled together early reports and the actual court documents: A judge in Virginia quashed the subpeona issued by Virginia’s Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to the University of Virginia, in a rather blatant attempt to silence a famous scientist working on global warming, Michael Mann.
Rosalind Helderman explained in the Virginia Politics blog of the Washington Post:
Judge Paul M. Peatross Jr. ruled that Cuccinelli can investigate whether fraud has occurred in university grants, as the attorney general had contended, but ruled that Cuccinelli’s subpoena failed to state a “reason to believe” that Mann had committed fraud.
The ruling is a major blow for Cuccinelli, a global warming skeptic who had maintained that he was investigating whether Mann committed fraud in seeking government money for research that showed that the earth has experienced a rapid, recent warming. Mann, now at Penn State University, worked at U-Va. until 2005.
According to Peatross, the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act, under which the civil investigative demand was issued, requires that the attorney general include an “objective basis” to believe that fraud has been committed. Peatross indicates that the attorney general must state the reason so that it can be reviewed by a court, which Cuccinelli failed to do.
Peatross set the subpoena aside without prejudice, meaning Cuccinelli could give the subpoena another try by rewriting the civil demand to better explain the conduct he wishes to investigate. But the judge seemed skeptical of Cuccinelli’s underlying claim about Mann, noting that Cuccinelli’s deputy maintained in a court hearing that the nature of Mann’s fraud was described in subsequent court papers in the case.
“The Court has read with care those pages and understands the controversy regarding Dr. Mann’s work on the issue of global warming. However, it is not clear what he did was misleading, false or fraudulent in obtaining funds from the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Peatross wrote.
Also, as suggested earlier here, the judge noted that Cuccinelli’s authority did not extend to four of the five grants questioned, because they were federal grants, not state grants. (See here, too.)
Comments at Helderman’s article show the fault lines of division on global warming — purely political faultlines.
Since opponents of action against warming so frantically publicized stolen e-mails from researchers late last year, in official proceedings scientists have smacked down skeptics on almost every issue.
Which only means that scientists now sit in the position of Cassandra after Apollo’s curse.