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Judge Rules Against Cuccinelli in Climategate Affair

A judge ruled today that Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli hasn’t shown the University of Virginia has documents relevant to his fraud investigation against former U. Va. climate scientist Michael Mann.

In a six-page decision, Albemarle County Judge Paul M. Peatross Jr. also ruled that the attorney general also has not sufficiently “stated the nature of the conduct” believed to constitute possible fraud by Mann alleged to satisfy the requirements of the law under which the office can issue a civil investigative demand for information from the university.

“However, the University of Virginia is a proper subject for a CID and the attorney general may investigate grants made with Commonwealth of Virginia funds to professors such as Dr. Mann,” Peatross ruled. “Accordingly, the court sets aside the CIDs in their entirety without prejudice to the Commonwealth to proceed according to law,” the decision states.

Mann, who works at Penn State, said he was “very pleased” with the decision.

“It is a victory not just for me and the university, but for all scientists who live in fear that they may be subject to a politically motivated witch hunt when their research findings prove inconvenient to powerful vested interests,” Mann said in an e-mail to The Daily Progress in Charlottesville.

Mann said he is “looking forward now to trying to get back full time to the things I really care about,” including “doing research and extending the forefront of our scientific understanding of the science of climate and climate change.”

Cuccinelli, a global warming skeptic, had issued the demand to U. Va. under the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act.

Cuccinelli said in a statement that he will revise his demand to conform with the judge’s order. He said he will examine the decision before deciding whether to appeal aspects of the ruling.

“While this was not an outright ruling in our favor, I am pleased that the judge has agreed with my office on several key legal points and has given us a framework for issuing a new civil investigative demand to get the information necessary to continue our investigation into whether or not fraud has been committed against the commonwealth,” Cuccinelli said

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