There's been another victory for science and climate scientists everywhere. In case you missed it, Michael Mann is suing for defamation, and the District of Columbia Court of Appeals has just now removed yet another obstacle some of the alleged defamers put in his way.
Acting with reckless disregard
The decision is worth reading. One of the key paragraphs is, as Professor Mann wrote on his Facebook page:
" [The defendants' statement that] Dr. Mann has engaged in misconduct has been so definitively discredited, a reasonable jury could, if it so chooses, doubt the veracity of appellants’ claimed honest belief in that very notion. A jury could find, by clear and convincing evidence, that appellants “in fact entertained serious doubts” or had a “high degree of awareness” that the accusations that Dr. Mann engaged in scientific misconduct, fraud, and deception, were false, and, as a result, acted “with reckless disregard” for the statements’ truth when they were published." (p. 101)Michael Mann is suing the following for defamation based on articles appearing on websites: Mark Steyn, The Competitive Enterprise Institute, Rand Simberg, and The National Review, Inc. All but Mark Steyn tried to get the case tossed under Anti-SLAPP Act. They tried this in a trial court and lost, so took it to the Appeals Court, where Michael Mann prevailed again.
The way is now cleared for Professor Mann to pursue his case for defamation.
Zoe Tillman at Buzzfeed was the first to break the story, and has since been followed by lots of others (see below). The only denier/disinformer I found who has picked up the story so far is Mark Steyn himself. Despite all his "bring it on" posturing of the past, and despite the fact that he didn't take part in the Anti-SLAPP appeal, Mark Steyn clearly wasn't overjoyed with the finding. He wrote how "Santa has come early and left a lump of coal in my stocking".
Michael Mann: Six to nil
Professor Mann has been targeted and harassed by unscrupulous people for around twenty years, and is standing tall. A recent article at the Washington Post gives some clues to what he has endured, simply for doing scientific research to expand our understanding of climate. This is now the sixth case that Professor Mann has won, including some that have been brought by others, attacking him:
- Cuccinelli v. UVA/Mann,
- Cuccinelli v. UVA/Mann supreme Court Appeal,
- ATI v. UVA/Mann,
- ATI v. UVA/Mann Supreme Court Appeal,
- Mann v. CEI/NRO/etc DC District Court,
- Mann v. CEI/NRO DC Appeals Court
Maybe that's the reason there's nothing (yet) on the blogs of the usual suspects (like WUWT and ClimateDepot. Even several hours later, there's not even been a tip to Anthony Watts from a WUWT reader.). It might be that climate disinformation bloggers are realising they can no longer post their defamatory articles without consequence.
The court decision is much longer than a blog article and is definitely worth reading, particularly for denier bloggers who used to think they could get away with blatant defamation and misrepresentation. At the end, the decision has the defamatory articles. (I've noticed the blatant defamation has become much less in the last couple of years, since scientists started winning cases against the worst offenders. The misrepresentation of scientific findings continues.)
Eli Rabett has picked out some of the best bits, if you don't have time to read through the whole judgement.
The most important part is toward the end (page 105):
Dr. Mann has supplied sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to find, by a preponderance of the evidence, that statements in the articles written by Mr. Simberg and Mr. Steyn were false, defamatory, and published by appellants to third parties, and, by clear and convincing evidence, that appellants did so with actual malice. We, therefore, affirm the trial court’s denial of the special motions to dismiss the defamation claims based on those articles and remand the case for additional proceedings in the trial court with respect to these claims.The only part that the court did not find in favour of Michael Mann, was in regard to intentional infliction of emotional distress caused by Lowry's editorial, however that was considered a only minor part of the claim:
We reverse the trial court’s denial of the special motions to dismiss with respect to Dr. Mann’s defamation claims based on Mr. Lowry’s editorial and the claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress.The bar was very high when it came to the level of emotional distress required to pursue this, after Rich Lowry compared Dr Mann to a paedophile. The judgement stated:
Dr. Mann has presented no evidence, however, that his understandable consternation met the high bar of “severe emotional distress,” which requires a showing beyond mere “mental anguish and stress” and must be “of so acute a nature that harmful physical consequences are likely to result.”Congratulations to Michael Mann for winning this appeal, though it's appalling that the occasion calls for it. I would much rather this article was about his many scientific achievements, and that he didn't have to spend time prevailing against people who are telling lies about him.
Help climate scientists stand up for science
A reminder that the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund can make good use of your donation. (I just discovered that if you shop at Amazon, you can make it your preferred charity for them to support, at no additional cost to you.)
References and further reading
- Judgement from the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, 22 December 2016
- Statement from Michael Mann on his Facebook page
- Appeals Court Rules Climate Scientist Can Pursue Defamation Claims Against Critics - article by Zoe Tillman at Buzzfeed
- A prominent climate scientist just won a major court battle - article by Andrew Freedman at Mashable
- Michael Mann Wins Important Court Decision - article by Hank Reichman at Academe Blog
- Michael Mann Wins Court Decision (Updated with statement by Mann) - article by Greg Laden on ScienceBlogs
- Christmas Gifts for Michael Mann and Rich Lowrey - article by Eli Rabett at Rabett Run
- Trump's Presidency Comes at the Worst Time for the Planet But a few things are looking up - article by Jack Holmes at Esquire
- Court: Climate scientist can sue conservative writers over alleged defamation - article by Timothy Cama at The Hill
- I’m a scientist who has gotten death threats. I fear what may happen under Trump - article by Michael E. Mann at The Washington Post.