U.Va. will ask Cuccinelli for more time to consider court challenge to subpoena
University of Virginia officials plan to ask the attorney general if they can have more time before they must decide whether to pursue a court challenge to his civil subpoena of documents related to a climate scientist who is a former professor.
That's according to an email late Wednesday from university spokeswoman Carol Wood.
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) has already agreed to give the school more time to comply with the subpoena--allowing the Board of Visitors until July 26 to turn over documents. But according to the Virginia Fraud Against Taxpayers Act, the law under which Cuccinelli filed his civil investigative demand, the school faces another looming deadline: a May 20 cut-off for deciding whether to go to court over the issue.
The law says someone who receives one of these subpoenas can petition a judge to set it aside. But they must do so within 21 days from receiving the subpoena, unless the attorney general's investigator offers a written extension of the deadline. That's what U.Va. will now seek
We had previously reported that the 21-day deadline for resisting the April 23 subpoeana was Friday, May 13. Actually, Wood told us Wednesday that the school has a few more days than that because the 21-day clock did not start ticking until the demand was served on April 26 and, by rule, the school also gets an extra three days because the document was served by mail. That means it currently has until next Thursday to decide whether to resist or comply.
The university had at first indicated it planned to turn over documents related to five grants received by climate scientist Michael Mann. Cuccinelli has said he is investigating whether Mann, now a professor at Penn State, committed fraud in applying for the grants.
But earlier this week, Wood said the school was "examining its options" for dealing with the subpoena, as various academic groups urged the Board of Visitors to seek judicial intervention.
The university's plan to ask for an extension means the visitors are, indeed, seriously considering the court option. It also means the subpoena would remain on their desks as faculty groups around the state continue to organize--just Wednesday we heard the executive committee of the faculty senate of Old Dominion University endorsed a letter criticizing the attorney general's move as an attack on academic freedom.
Cuccinelli told us Tuesday that he was trying to be accomodating of the university by giving it more time to gather documents and trimming the number of emails he sought. But Cuccinelli also said he had been given no indication by the university that it might go to court to ask a judge to set aside his request.
"The university has made a number of requests of us in terms of accomodating them on schedule and trimming the scope. We have accomodated them on every single one of those requests. So at this point, I don't anticipate that," he said.
Will Cuccinelli give them more time to explore their options? We'll see.
May 13, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
Categories: Ken Cuccinelli , Rosalind Helderman | Tags: Michael Mann
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