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Cuccinelli bid for UVa documents lacks support, judge holds

Retired Albemarle County Circuit Judge Paul M. Peatross Jr. has sided with the University of Virginia in its effort to block Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s investigation of records from a climate change researcher.

In a letter opinion today, Peatross finds the attorney general failed to set forth an objective basis to support his issuance of a civil investigative demand to UVa. The opinion allows Cuccinelli the option of trying again with a more specific request for documents.

Peatross’ decision was hailed by the object of the AG’s investigation, climatology professor Michael Mann. “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 told The Daily Progress.

Mann researched climate change at UVA from 1999 to 2005. Cuccinelli is investigating whether Mann fraudulently obtained government research grants by falsifying climate change data.

In a news release, Cuccinelli said that he is pleased with other aspects of the Peatross opinion. The judge ruled UVa may properly be served with a CID and the attorney general may investigate grants made to professors with commonwealth funds. “We are going to issue a new CID that conforms to the judge’s ruling,” Cuccinelli said in the release.

By Peter Vieth

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