The Rotunda at the University of Virginia, in Charlottesville, Virginia, October 2006. Photo: Aaron Josephson / Wikimedia

By Tom Jackman   
17 April 2014

(Washington Post) – Unpublished research by university scientists is exempt from the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled Thursday, rejecting an attempt by skeptics of global warming to view the work of a prominent climate researcher during his years at the University of Virginia.

The ruling is the latest turn in the FOIA request filed in 2011 by Del. Robert Marshall (R-Prince William) and the American Tradition Institute to obtain research and e-mails of former U-Va. professor Michael Mann.

Mann left the university in 2005 and now works at Penn State University, where he published his book “The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars” about his theories on global warming and those who would deny it. Lawyers for U-Va. turned over about 1,000 documents to Marshall and ATI, led by former EPA attorney David Schnare, but withheld another 12,000 papers and e-mails, saying that work “of a propriety nature” was exempt under the state’s FOIA law.

In 2012, Circuit Judge Paul Sheridan sided with U-Va., saying that Mann’s work was exempt and that the FOIA exemption arose “from the concept of academic freedom and from the interest in protecting research.” Marshall and ATI appealed. […]

(Note: The Washington Post joined an amicus curiae brief in the case filed by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press supporting Marshall and the ATI.)

Mann said after the ruling, “This is a victory for science, public university faculty, and academic freedom. We are grateful for the vigorous defense waged by the University of Virginia in protecting their faculty and the integrity of research and scholarship. Hopefully the ruling can serve as a precedent in other states confronting this same assault on public universities and their faculty.” [more]

Va. Supreme Court rules for U-Va. in global warming FOIA case

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