Peatross decides: Judge pens halt to Cuccinelli inquest

news-climate-peatrossPeatross' ruling leaves Cucinelli right to refile.

The controversial "climategate" inquest by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli came to a halt Monday as an Albemarle County judge issued a declaration that set aside a demand for old emails from Michael Mann, the former UVA professor and creator of the so-called "hockey stick graph," which posits that global temperatures are undergoing an unprecedented spike.

In a case that drew international attention, both sides spun the decision their way.

On the hot-button issue of whether such an inquest would have harmed academic freedom–- something that was argued by four rights groups in an amicus brief–- retired judge Paul Peatross seemed reluctant to carve out such a privilege.

"The Attorney General has the right to investigate if he meets the other requirements of the statute," wrote Peatross, noting that he was preserving Cuccinelli's right to refile a narrower inquest.

"I am pleased that the judge has agreed with my office on several key legal points," Cuccinelli said in a prepared statement, "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."

Judge Peatross heard arguments from the two sides on Friday, August 20–- the same day that a small protest of UVA professors and students took place on the steps of the Rotunda.

The Peatross ruling blistered the AG's office on several points including the state's failure to state precisely why it believes that old emails relate to a monetary fraud. Additionally, Peatross found that only one of the five grants Mann received at UVA actually consisted of state money, and so it didn't meet the requirements of the Fraud Against Taxpayers Act, or FATA, the 2003 Virginia law that gave the AG the right to his so-called Civil Investigative Demand.

Peatross also found that most of the grants preceded FATA, which was designed for frauds against the Commonwealth, but he left the door open to a refiling if the Attorney General can show that Virginia funds were paid during a time when FATA was in effect.

–story updated for print with UVA's spin at 2:50pm, Tuesday, August 31


Soviet and Russian propaganda have often accused their own scientists as well as Western scientists of concocting criminal plots. In 1992, the KGB even admitted right in Izvestia that they had spread the lie that Pentagon scientists made AIDS to genocide blacks.

Izvestiya (3-19-92) reported:

"[Russian intelligence chief Yevgeni Primakov]mentioned the well known articles printed a few years ago in our central newspapers about AIDS supposedly originating from secret Pentagon laboratories. According to Yevgeni Primakov, the articles exposing US scientists' 'crafty' plots were fabricated in KGB offices."

During the so-called "Climategate" email scandal, which began on November 20, 2009, the Kremlin-financed satellite channel Russia Today used the Western denialist Lord Monckton to advance the view that global warming was a "swindle" being perpetrated by Western scientists. The Russian propaganda said the same thing as British and American global warming denialists. Pravda was literally quoting FOX News.

American politicians who are global warming denialists tend to be conservative, right-wing Republicans such as Senator James Inhofe and Virginia's Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. Denialist politicians often get money from fossil fuel interests.

Some American denialists are also in the conspiracist "9-11 Truth Movement." These people claim that President George W. Bush or his minions are the true masterminds behind the 9-11 attacks. One example of a "Truther" publication is the "Rock Creek Free Press", which titled an article on Climategate "Science Scandal of the Century: The World's Most Influential Climate Scientists Get Caught 'Fudging' the Data."

Virginia's Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli continues to spread ignorant denialist propaganda even though the official Russian media is no longer promoting the view that global warming is a scientific "swindle."

This summer, perhaps because of the forest fires, the official Russian media and President Medvedev began to say that global warming is happening.

Last fall, the Kremlin-financed satellite channel Russia Today promoted the conspiracy theory that global warming was a "hoax" perpetrated by British and American climate scientists. For example, Russia Today interviewed the British global warming denialist Lord Monckton. Western "experts" may be viewed as having more credibility with English-speaking Russia Today audiences.

This summer, the conspiracist historian Andrei Areshev, the lunatic deputy director of Russia's Strategic Culture Foundation, [a "think tank" that sometimes tests Russia's new political line] claimed that global warming exists but that U.S. climate scientists are CAUSING global warming with secret "climate weapons."

This clown made this fantastic claim while NASA was trying to pinpoint the fires in Russia so they could be extinguished.

In America, foundations and so-called "scientific" institutes also advance conspiracies about climate scientists. I think they all get money from fossil fuel interests to do this dirty work. The American foundations and "scientific" institutes typically claim that global warming doesn't exist, that it exists but is not caused by man, and that global warming is not a big problem.

The propagandists got so absurd in Russia that American climate scientists were accused of making up the HOAX of global warming and of CAUSING global warming with "secret climate weapons." Russian global Warming conspiracists evidently do not share a scientific consensus about the "plots" of our climate scientists.

This preposterous lie about our scientists beaming "secret climate weapons" at certain countries was spread while NASA was trying to help Russians locate hundreds of forest fires.

Responsible scholars and politicians help mankind solve problems, but Dr. Areshev and AG Cuccinelli seem to be creating extra problems by sowing distrust. I think the world needs help from Russian and American scientists, not from Russian and American conspiracists who are on the take from the fossil fuel companies!

Ed, can't you do a cursory scan of the scientific literature?

The VS04 results have been interpreted to cast serious doubt on the MBH reconstruction. [Note that a newer method has since been presented and evaluated (8, 9).] However, these results are in large part dependent on a detrending step not used by MBH, which is physically inappropriate and statistically not required. The take-away message for the climate community should be strong encouragement for more vigorous cross-comparisons of the various reconstruction implementations, based on real-world proxy series, model emulations, and simulated modifications to real-world data. Such a step would help eliminate unnecessary confusion that can distract from the crucial contributions of climate change research to important scientific and policy questions.

"ââ?¬Å?I am pleased that the judge has agreed with my office on several key legal points,” Cuccinelli said in a prepared statement, ââ?¬Å?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.”

As the Black Knight said in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail": "It's only a flesh wound!"

Why is Cucc wasting VA Taxpayer funds? Can we CID him? I'll listen to his twist on climate after he goes to school for six years to become a climatologist and THEN spends another six years to study the climate. The only fraud that Cucc can claim is that Mann claimed he was gonna study big boobs but then used the money to study climate instead. I've no opinion on the climate either way, but he sounds like somebody screaming that the apple falls upward. Go away and leave us alone, like move to NKorea where you like their government style.

Or even produce an allegation of fraud.


Peatross was substituting for a judge that was out on vacation, which is why he got this case even though he is retired.

Cucc is getting on my nerves.

I like this part from Section 2:

"What the Attorney General suspects that Dr. Mann did that was false or fraudulent in obtaining funds from the Commonwealth is simply not stated."

Gee, the paranoid fringe continually claims that it's so obvious from "Climategate" that Mann engaged in fraudulent research. And yet the judge said that Cucc couldn't provide any evidence of fraud.

@Arlen, I'm not sure what you're referring to when you say the judge gave the AG "full authorization in his decision for the AG to investigate Mann and get the documents from UVA."

Having just read the declaration, I take away two important points:

1) 4 of the 5 grants were federal grants, and therefore the AG cannot investigate them (see section 5).

2) The 5th grant was a state grant, but apparently was granted in 2001. Therefore FATA (not enacted until 2003) does not apply and the AG cannot issue a CID under FATA for it (see section 6).

So sure, the AG "may investigate grants made with Commonwealth of Virginia funds to professors such as Dr. Mann." (see the conclusion), but presumably not the 5 from his original CID. But what then does that leave him?

(on an unrelated side note, I think there's a typo in the conclusion: "For the reasons stated above, this Court rules that the two CIDs in question SO not show a "reason to believe"..."). Pretty sloppy!

He'll be back with vengeance. In reading the decision I saw nothing that will stop Cuccinelli from winning this battle. The main point of the decision was that UVA is a State School and that Mann at the time was a State Employee and therefor the judge gave full authorization in his decision for the AG to investigate Mann and get the documents from UVA. All Peatross said was go dot your i's and cross your t's, see you again real soon.

Well, Arlen, according to the article the judge also appeared to say that about 90% of what Cucc asked for was irrelevant or outside of his jurisdiction.

On the one grant that came from Virginia did the AG's office attach a copy of his request for the grant as an exhibit?. Seems like you would have to prove something fraudulent in his application but AG office wouldn't even bother to attach a copy? Suppose the one application for a grant from Va. says I suspect humans are effecting global warming I would like 100K to prove it. Or I'm totally neutral on if humans effect global warming and I would like 100 K to objectively study it. You expect UVa to search for all these old emails but you won't bother to attach a copy of the request for a grant in question?

I'm curious. Why is a retired judge issuing rulings at all? Is he not really retired? Is that normal in the courts? That just seems to me like something the conspiracy minded would get all freaky over.

It's amazing how many comment here without reading the actual ruling. Don't take what you read as gospel, use your eyes and your brain. As one who works in the Justice System, I am appalled at the sheep.

Here is another riot. Who is the Judge most overturned by the Virginia Supreme Court of those currently on the bench? Who was recently removed as Head of the Albemarle Circuit Court?

That's right Peatross. I've never argued in front of him but 27 investigations, 4 disciplinary actions and title for most overturned by the VASC, not much of a judicial career.

Google can educate those with open eyes.

Here one from the Hook about him being overturned:

Or just go to and search his record for a good laugh.

I don't think Ken Cucinelli is too worried tonight.

a nice article that deserves to be refuted... if you can...

Arlen, the actual ruling throws out 90% of Cucc's demands. It rules that 4 of the 5 grants cannot be investigated by Cucc because they weren't awarded by the state. It says that the remaining 2001 grant can only be investigated if funds were allocated after January 1, 2003. The judge also says that the Attorney General has to demonstrate a clear "reason to believe" on an objective basis that Mann committed fraud before an investigation can be authorized. The judge goes on to state that the Attorney General did not do this by failing to provide even a clear allegation of fraud, let alone any evidence of such an act.

Rather than calling other people sheep, you might want to enroll in remedial literacy classes.

It also says that if you punched phone numbers from the phone book into his computer program they all came up as a hockey stick and Mann refuses to address the accusation.

@Arlen, a few of us obviously have read the ruling. That's how we are able to refer to sections and quote from it.

You seem to think that it's a victory of sorts for the AG and all he has to do is "go dot your i’s and cross your t’s.".

Let's see what those "i's" and "t's" are:

1) The four federal grants are outside the AG's FATA jurisdiction. Scratch those off the list.

2) The one state grant was awarded 2 years before FATA, so it's not subject to a FATA investigation (unless some of that money was awarded after 2003, which I suppose is a possibility, does anyone out there know?)

3) Even if the grants were actionable under FATA, Cuccinelli still needs to state plainly the suspected fraud by Dr. Mann, which the ruling finds he did NOT do.

4) Even if the grants were actionable AND he were able to state plainly what he thinks he's looking for, the scope of requested documents, emails, etc in the original CID would be considerably more narrow and limited only to papers having to do with the grant application. (See section 6.) If memory serves, the CID asked for any emails (among other things) to/from/about 20-30 scientists over the course of several years.

So, I suppose besides all that, Cuccinelli has the green light to proceed.

I have voted Republican for 40 years, and I voted for Ken Cuccinelli; but now I see that Virginia's Attorney General is persecuting the famous climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann on trumped-up fraud charges. I deeply regret my ignorant vote.

I noticed on the Internet that Virginia's Attorney General Cuccinelli’s father used to be an executive at the American Gas Associationââ?¬â??the lobby for the gas industry.

The elder Cuccinelli worked in the Division of Marketing Services according to a March 1986 Oak Ridge National Laboratory document. (See page 78 "#118 Kenneth Cuccinelli" on the External Distribution list for this document.)

Currently the father is an executive at Quest Fore Strategic Marketing, an advertising, marketing, and communications company with offices in Pittsburg, Cleveland, and Washington D.C.

According to the biographical information about the elder Cuccinelli:

"When he joined Quest Fore in 1999 as chairman, Ken brought with him a wealth of strategic marketing experience. A former head of marketing for a Fortune 500 company (CNG Pittsburgh), Ken was named 1994 Gas Marketing executive and also served as chief operating officer of CNG Energy prior to joining Quest Fore. In addition to his chairman duties, he also serves as president of International Business Ventures LLC, a worldwide consulting and prospect development company that is active in Europe and Latin America. In 2005, Ken earned his ABC (Business Communications Accreditation) from the International Association of Business Communicators."

Attorney General Cuccinelli’s opponent in the AG race, Steve Shannon, says that Cuccinelli got 55,000 dollars from his political sugar daddy, the mysterious Florida criminal ââ?¬Å?Bobby Thompson,” around the time that Cuccinelli tried to put Virginia’s Office of Consumer Affairs under the authority of the Attorney General’s office.

Cuccinelli is making a big deal about the safety of abortion clinics, but perhaps the Attorney General got money from the mysterious Florida criminal ââ?¬Å?Bobby Thompson” to put the Office of Consumer Affairs under the AG's office in order to protect the fossil fuel interests, not the health of women.

Cuccinelli doesn’t really care about safety and health issues or he would not mislead people about the dangers of global warming. I am not pro-abortion, but abortion is a safe proceedure (for the woman). It is certainly a lot safer (for the woman) than global warming.

I think that the abortion "safety" issue is just a red herring to disguise the real motives for putting Virginia's Office of Consumer Affairs under the authority of the Attorney General.

Climate denialists like Cuccinelli are spreading what used to be the party line of the Russian petrostate, which spreads global warming denialist propaganda to protect its gas industry. Until the horrific forest fires in Russia this summer, the Kremlin-financed media claimed that our "greedy" scientists were trying to trick people with the "hoax" of global warming.

This summer, our great scientists at NASA were helping the Russians find their forest fires, so the Russians stopped mischaracterizing our scientists as greedy liars. President Medvedev recently affirmed in RIA Novosti that global warming is real. Last winter, however, Medvedev claimed that global warming was some ââ?¬Å?some kind of tricky campaign made up by some commercial structures to promote their business projects.” For the moment, President Medvedev has changed his tune about the "tricky campaign" of global warming.

I think that investigative journalists and the authorities should look into the Cuccinelli family’s financial interests because I think there may be a conflict of interest. I think Attorney General Cuccinelli is probably using his AG office to advance his family’s financial interests. To paraphrase Medvedev, I think global warming denialism is some ââ?¬Å?some kind of tricky campaign made up by some commercial structures to promote their business projects.”

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, ââ?¬Å?Cuccinelli falsely maintains [in his July 13, 2010 court filing] that climate scientists are primarily motivated by money, and suggests they are skewing their research results to attract grants.”

Well, I think the truth may be that Cuccinelli's family is getting money from domestic and foreign fossil fuel businesses. After all, the elder Cuccinelli was a lobbyist for the American Gas Association in marketing. The elder Cuccinelli's new company is probably also getting paid to promote the interests of domestic and foreign fossil fuel companies because the elder Cuccinelli is touted in his biography as an expert in gas marketing.

Attorney General Cuccinelli tries to discredit Dr. Mann and get him in trouble for submitting fraudulent information in order to get government research grants, but Cuccinelli is probably the one who is using taxpayer money to perpetrate a fraud.

Cuccinelli has been spreading the same propaganda about our ââ?¬Å?greedy scientists” as the Kremlin, which depends heavily on its profits from the natural gas industry. Russia's President Medvedev is the former CEO of Russia's natural gas company GAZPROM.

Who will investigate Virginia's Attorney General?

I know that the FBI investigated Congressman Weldon because he was a shill for the Russian gas company ITERA, and Weldon's daughter got 500,000 dollars from ITERA for ââ?¬Å?consulting fees.” I think the FBI should also investigate how Cuccinelli’s family profits from the gas industry. I think Attorney General Cuccinelli is the greedy "moneybags," not the college professor Dr. Mann and the other climate scientists who work in government and academia.

Cuccinelli seems to have hijacked the AG office and is using it for his family's financial benefit. He is using my tax money to persecute the great climate scientist Dr. Mann on trumped-up fraud charges. It is disgusting, immoral, and perhaps illegal.

Attorney General Cuccinelli is Catholic, and the Vatican has asked the U.N. to fight global warming. Students in Catholic educational institutions read about global warming in their science textbooks because it is good science and because Christians are supposed to be stewards of the earth and protect God's creation. Are science teachers in Catholic educational institutions teaching lies about global warming? Is the Pope also a greedy liar who is perpetrating a hoax?

Perhaps Cuccinelli would like to use his power to force Virginia's public schools to teach the fossil fuel-inspired junk science about the "hoax" of global warming; but Catholic educational institutions will continue to teach the science of global warming, not the propaganda spread by Kremlin moneybags and the fossil fuel industry's political operatives.

Links to quotes and evidence here.

Scissorhands, what an insightful article. It starts out:

"The East Anglia Climate Research Unit (CRU) revelations come as no real surprise to anyone who has closely followed the global-warming saga. The Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) thesis, to give it its semi-official name, is no stranger to fraud. It is no real exaggeration to state that it was fertilized with fraud, marinated in fraud, stewed in fraud, and at last served up to the world as prime, grade-A fraud with nice side orders of fakery and disingenuousness. Damning as they may be, the CRU e-mails are merely the climactic element in an exhaustively long line."

Just by calling something a "fraud" doesn't make it a fraud. If there was proof that Mann's research was fraudulent, perhaps it would have been wise for Cuccinelli to show this evidence to the judge. Oops, that's right - they didn't have any evidence.

Ed, I don't have the tolerance for cargo cult science to read the whole article, but this explains the first point:

And to be honest, it really doesn't matter particular year was the hottest in the US, but rather what the long-term trend is.

cookiejar, it's because our courts are overloaded with cases and Peatross has been asked by the court to pick up the slack.

Almost all of the other cases are legitimate. This one, clearly, is not.

gee Arlen, did you miss this tidbit:

Cuccinelli did not show, Peatross wrote, any evidence that Mann’s work was ââ?¬Å?misleading, false or fraudulent in obtaining funds from the Commonwealth of Virginia.”


ââ?¬Å?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. ââ?¬Å?I’m looking forward now to trying to get back full time to the things I really care about: doing research and extending the forefront of our scientific understanding of the science of climate and climate change, advising students and postdoctoral scholars, and doing the best I can to communicate to the public important scientific findings"

The good guys win, the bad guys lose. The balls in Coochi-coochi-coo's coo-coo court!

"I’m curious. Why is a retired judge issuing rulings at all? Is he not really retired? Is that normal in the courts? That just seems to me like something the conspiracy minded would get all freaky over."

Peatross "retired" in 2006 after a series of complaints were filed against him, but he is actually hearing as many cases as ever as a substitute judge. He has too many friends in high places to have been forced out.

Hey Arlen: the sheep are quite often appalled by the justice system.

Not, however, this time.

In my opinion, Cuccinelli is wasting our money and my time. He should resign today simply because he should feel so ashamed of himself, that he can't bear to see his own miserable reflection in his own sorry mirror, and that revelation makes him so horribly depressed that it has rendered him unable to function adequately, or make an informed decision on any relevant issue in an important elected position, in my opinion.

Bjžrn Lomborg has just been defriended by our attorney general.

"Bjžrn Lomborg: $100bn a year needed to fight climate change"