August 20, 2010
After a hearing Friday afternoon in Albemarle County, Judge Paul Peatross says he will have a ruling within ten days on Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's demand for records related to former University of Virginia professor Michael Mann's research.
Mann is accused of defrauding taxpayers by manipulating climate change/global warming research data to seek out a favorable pattern. Cuccinelli says he's just protecting taxpayer money, however critics, who held a small protest on grounds before Friday's hearing, say it's a threat to academic freedom.
While the protest on the steps of the Rotunda was not nearly as large as organizers had hoped, they say that does not deter from their message that Cuccinelli should not be interfering with higher education.
"Professors, students and alumni are all concerned that this is going to have a detrimental impact to academia if [Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli] is able to pursue this investigation. Not only in Virginia, not only at this University, not only in Virginia, but across the nation," said Ryan McElveen.
About an hour after the protest, attorneys for UVa. and for Cuccinelli's office argued their cases for and against the demand for records.
The University argued that the Attorney General has no basis for his investigation and therefore cannot demand records without a reasonable basis.
On the other hand, Cuccinelli's attorneys argued that he does not need any reason to simply request information about how public money is being used. While he is an outspoken global warming skeptic, Cuccinelli has repeatedly said his request has nothing to do with politics.
Judge Peatross did not reach a verdict Friday afternoon, but said he would offer a decision in a public letter within the next ten days.