The Supreme Court of Virginia [official website] on Friday agreed to hear a case seeking to determine whether Virignia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli [official profile] can subpoena records about a former professor at the University of Virginia [academic website]. Cuccinelli is requesting that the University turn over records about global warming researcher Dr. Michael Mann [official profile], now a professor at Penn State University, in an effort to investigate allegations that Mann received improper public funds for his global warming research. Last year, retired Albemarle County Circuit Court Judge Paul M. Peatross Jr. dismissed the request [opinion, PDF] citing Cuccinelli's failure to establish a reasonable belief that fraud had occurred, but held that the University could be a proper target of a fraud investigation. Cuccinelli has argued that Virginia's 2002 Fraud Against Taxpayers Act [materials], allows him to subpoena any records to help determine whether a civil fraud investigation is needed. The University hopes that court will set limits on what documents the Attorney General can demand in a civil investigation. Critics of the lawsuit have accused Cuccinelli, a global warming skeptic, of targeting Mann because of his research [Washington Post report]. The Virginia Supreme Court will hear the case later this spring.
Cuccinelli is also leading a multi-state effort to overturn the health care reform law [HR 3590 text; JURIST news archive]. In February, Cuccinelli filed [JURIST report] a petition for a writ of certiorari [text, PDF] with the US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] asking the court to rule on the constitutionality of the health care reform law on an expedited basis, before the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit [official website] rules on the issue. Cuccinelli based his request [press release; JURIST report] on the far-reaching public policy implications inherent in the implementation of the legislation and the potential cost to the states as uncertainty surrounding the legislation's constitutionality remains.