CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (Legal Newsline) - An Albemarle County Circuit Court judge has quashed a subpoena issued by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli seeking documents related to the work of a climate scientist.
The Washington Post reported Cuccinelli's subpoena, issued to the University of Virginia and concerning the work of former university professor Michael Mann, was quashed by Judge Paul Peatross.
It was Mann who produced the widely publicized "hockey stick" graph showing a sharp increase in global average temperatures in the industrial age.
The prominent climate scientist worked at UVA from 1999-2005 and has since taught at Penn State University. His work was called into question in the investigations into the so-called Climategate scandal following the unauthorized release of hundreds of e-mails from a British climate center last fall.
However, several investigations, including an extensive review of his research by PSU, have cleared him of academic misconduct.
Peatross ruled this week that the attorney general can investigate whether fraud has occurred in university grants, but ruled that Cuccinelli's subpoena failed to state a "reason to believe" that Mann had committed fraud, according to the Post.
The Post calls the ruling "a major blow" for the attorney general, a known global warming skeptic who maintained he was investigating whether Mann committed fraud in seeking government money for research that showed the earth has experienced a rapid, recent warming.
Cuccinelli, a Republican, has already sued the federal Environmental Protection Agency to try to prevent it from imposing regulations on carbon dioxide and other climate-altering gases.
Cuccinelli suspects Mann may have violated the state's Fraud Against Taxpayers Act by manipulating data in applications for more than $450,000 in research grants.
Additionally, the judge said Cuccinelli could only ask about one of five grants issued to Mann that the attorney general has been seeking to investigate, the Post said. That's because the other four involved the use of federal, not state, funds.
In a statement, Cuccinelli said he will take the judge's ruling into account and rewrite the civil investigative demand, the Post reported.
From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.