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U.Va. will ask Cuccinelli for more time to consider court challenge to subpoena

Rosalind Helderman

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

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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.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  May 13, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli , Rosalind Helderman  | Tags: Michael Mann  
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I hope UVa will fight the demand for emails. Some people think, if Mann has nothing to hide, he has no reason to prevent people from seeing his emails. This is an extremeley naive veiwpoint. Prosecutors are trained to lie and distort, as are all lawyers, and since this inquiry is almost certainly politically based, it's very likely this is what Cuccinelli and his flunkies will do.

Posted by: boatbrain | May 13, 2010 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Hilarious! I hope UVa does indeed sue. This far reaching fishing expedition by Cuccinelli goes beyond anything needed for a "fraud" investigation. It should of been limited to financial documents only.
So now, in addition to having the Attorney Generals office facing the prospect of reviewing countless scientific data for which they have little or no training and would require millions of additional dollars to do anything proper, we also have the prospect of a state university being forced to spend state dollars in court fighting the state's attorney general and having them all burn thru millions in legal fews.
Virginia might be in a recession and having to cut billions in dollars from the budgets for education and road repair, but Cuccinelli is spending money like water and bleeding the state dry for his own personal right wing agenda.
Go Cuccinelli, Go!

Posted by: MarilynManson | May 13, 2010 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Give him everything. Then, he'll misuse his power and we can be done with him.

Cuccinelli is a wannabe blogger. No brains, just fingers.

Posted by: NancyNaive | May 13, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

The longer this tale goes on the more KOO-KOO-NELLI looks like a fool.Everyone knows he has no real crime to fight in good ole Virginny!

Posted by: lsf07 | May 13, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

This investigation is bogus and it is costing the taxpayer. The Washington Post should investigate the fact that Attotney General's office also represents UVA. The Division representing UVA is a rabid Republican and staunch Cuccinelli supporter. What is the likelihood that UVA will get a fair representation? Talk about Conflict of Interest!

Posted by: hihome | May 13, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

In 1995, I was expelled from the George Mason University School of Law, a Virginia state institution in Arlington, VA, six weeks prior to my expected graduation, after a kangaroo-court “honor code” proceeding was waged against me for the express purpose of wresting control away from me of an independent student-edited law journal, a publication of which I was the only remaining editor. (I also was a Moot Court board member, an officer of the Inn of Court, a “Dean’s Scholar,” or teaching assistant in the legal writing program, and the winner of my class’s moot court competition, judged by John Roberts, now Chief Justice of the United States.)

The honor code proceeding was a breach of my academic contract with the law school, as the school’s own policies restricted honor code proceedings to instances of academic misconduct such as plagiarism or cheating on exams. Nothing in the honor code permitted it to be used to resolve disputes over control of student organizations. Indeed, an attempt already had been made to use the University’s judicial complaint procedure against me for the same desired end, and the complaint had been dismissed. Still, the law school allowed the matter to proceed, without my participation, out of various petty grievances against me on the part of its then-Deans, Henry Manne (later forced into retirement at the faculty’s behest) and Winston “Sid” Moore.

The student in charge of the honor code system at GMUSL at that time treated its various procedural safeguards as entirely optional, ignoring any with which he disagreed that obstructed his pursuit of an outcome adverse to me. (He even, as Honor Code Chairman, went into the jury room during deliberations in order to coach the “jury” toward a vote of expulsion.) This didn’t surprise me, as this student had various axes to grind where I was concerned, including resentment of my running against him for the Honor Code Chairman post, and my public opposition to his later frantic and clandestine efforts, ultimately successful, to tamper with the honor code rules to make it far easier to expel students.

I believe this student, widely known to be anti-gay, also harbored personal bias towards me, as one of the founders of the gay students association at the law school.

That student was Ken Cuccinelli, now attorney general of Virginia. Cuccinelli’s actions, encouraged and supported fully by George Mason University’s School of Law’s Manne and Moore, were intended to destroy my career and life, and have pretty much done so.

Cuccinelli is a danger to anyone in Virginia. I got to see it long before most people did.

Terry Wolfe
Brandon, FL

Posted by: Terry_Wolfe | May 14, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

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