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Michael Mann Could Be in Legal Hot Water for Refusal to Turn Over 'Hockey Stick' Data

The inventor of the hockey stick graph, Penn State Professor Michael Mann, is in hot water in Canada over a lawsuit he filed against a climatologist, Dr. Tim Ball, one of his main critics. The results of this lawsuit have wide-ranging implications for everything from the validity of his hockey stick graph as proof of man-made global warming, to the right of free expression.

Mann is allegedly in contempt of court for refusing discovery to the person he's suing for defamation. Dr. Ball claims he agreed to an adjournment of the court proceedings on the condition that Mann turns over all the data used to create his hockey stick graph that purports to show a spike in global warming in the twentieth century. The discovery of this data is vital to Ball's defense, as he has criticized the methodology used to create the graph.

Mann's refusal to comply with this aspect of discovery has been hailed by some as proof that the data behind the hockey stick graph doesn't exist, and the graph is a fraud. While it may be premature to make such a sweeping declaration, Mann's purported refusal to cooperate in this legal proceeding is damning.

The implications are obvious. Should he continue to refuse to comply, it will remain impossible to reproduce his scientific findings — one of the most important aspects of the scientific method. Mann has jealously guarded his data, refusing to allow the world to examine his findings, claiming they are his "intellectual property." Ball said in a recent interview, "We believe he [Mann] withheld on the basis of a US court ruling that it was all his intellectual property. This ruling was made despite the fact the US taxpayer paid for the research and the research results were used as the basis of literally earth-shattering policies on energy and environment. The problem for him is that the Canadian court holds that you cannot withhold documents that are central to your charge of defamation regardless of the US ruling."

Mann's lawsuit against Tim Ball has gone on for many years. Ball believes this is a SLAPP-style lawsuit designed to bully him into silence. SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) cases have been used to suppress free expression through lawfare. Many states in the U.S. and provinces in Canada have greatly restricted the ability to file them.

"The Mann lawsuit was not the first from the same lawyer, Roger McConchie, a man who made his reputation as a champion of free speech," Ball explained in an email to PJM. He said that all three of McConchie's lawsuits were filed in British Columbia because it is one of only two jurisdictions in Canada that has not passed anti-SLAPP legislation.