Sunday, March 7, 2021
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VA Supremes to Hear Case of Cooch v. Academic Freedom

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The case of Ken Cuccinelli's unconstitutional harassment of climate scientist Michael Mann is now headed to the Virginia Supreme Court.

This ought to be interesting.  According to the Virginia Times-Dispatch story,

In granting the full hearing, the court outlined key legal questions to be considered, including what is the standard Cuccinelli had to meet for believing that U.Va. had relevant documents; how much proof of wrongdoing Cuccinelli had to show to have his request granted; and whether a Virginia statute aimed at combating fraud of taxpayer dollars applies to federal grant money that only passes through the state's hands.

Considering that Cooch's case is based solely on wacko climate change conspiracy theories - even though many climate skeptics have actually condemned Cooch's actions in this case - and he presented ZERO evidence that Professor Mann committed anything resembling fraud, this ought to be the very definition of an open-and-shut case.  

Still, I have to admit I have rarely followed the VA Supreme Court and don't know quite what to expect to them.  Per Judgepedia, I see a 3-2 Republican-Democratic split on the court.  Will the Republican appointees slavishly defend Cooch, or will they act like actual judges considering the facts of the case?

I encourage all interested parties to file amicus briefs arguing for academic freedom at the University of Virginia and beyond.  I'd also like to hear from some of our lawyer friends about what they think we should expect from the court and any suggestions on how to file such briefs successfully.  

Ultimately, I'm confident that we will win this fight, because freedom of speech and inquiry is what America is all about.

Cooch vs. UVA: The Logic of Tyranny

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Cross posted at Daily Kos

Ken Cuccinelli's latest filing in his legal witchhunt against the University of Virginia is a genuinely Orwellian demonstration of how to bend reality to fit the needs of one's ideology.  Cooch's "logic" here is chillingly similar to the reasoning of totalitarian leaders who, confronted with facts that challenge their power, simply declare war against reality and logic altogether.

Here are a few examples:

According to Cooch, the fact that repeated investigations by academic institutions around the world (like here and here) have cleared climate scientist Michael Mann of any wrongdoing - and shown "climategate" to be nothing more than a right wing hoax - actually proves that Prof. Mann must be guilty:

Ironically, the various investigations of Mann and other climate scientists cited by the university in its brief and various other similar investigations simply augment the already sufficient evidence to warrant an investigation. It is truly the university's position that none of those investigations were warranted and all of the groups cited acted without any reasonable basis in fact? If not, the very existence of those investigations reinforces the conclusion that there is sufficient basis for the attorney general to have issued the CIDs in the instant case. That some of the investigations cited have been completed and have allegedly 'cleared' Mann does not alter the analysis.
 

Who’s Virginia’s Real Climate Fraud?

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Attorney General Cuccinelli stubbornly continued his assault on science and reason with a recent court filing against the University of Virginia.  Super Cooch continues to press his "case" that  Professor Michael Mann committed "fraud" against state government by conducting climate change research that failed to conform to the looniest conspiracy theories of the far right:

"Neither academic freedom nor the First Amendment have ever been held to immunize a person, whether an academic or not, from civil or criminal actions for fraud, let alone immunized them from an otherwise authorized investigation," Cuccinelli's filing with the Albemarle County Circuit Court states.

In order to truly appreciate what a radical and precedent-shattering act Super Cooch has undertaken here, it's important to understand what a deadly serious (and rare) situation it is for a state's top legal official to charge someone with fraud for conducting legitimate academic research.

Wikipedia has a helpful list of categories of fraud, to illustrate the type of major crimes we're talking about here:

Types of criminal fraud include:  • bait and switch • bankruptcy fraud • benefit fraud, committing fraud to get government benefits • counterfeiting of currency, documents or valuable goods [...] creation of false companies or "long firms" • embezzlement, taking money which one has been entrusted with on behalf of another party • false advertising • false billing • false insurance claims • forgery of documents or signatures, • health fraud, for example selling of products known not to be effective, such as quack medicines, • identity theft • investment frauds, such as Ponzi schemes and Pyramid schemes • [...] • rigged gambling games such as the shell game • securities frauds such as pump and dump • tax fraud, not reporting revenue or illegally avoiding taxes.