The Blog

Our First Executive Director

To all our supporters,

“After years of attacks, I am thrilled that there is a world class litigator whose full time job is to stand up for scientists.” –Dr. Michael Mann, Distinguished Professor of Meteorology at Penn State

The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund is excited to announce the hiring of Lauren Kurtz as its first Executive Director. Thank you to everyone who donated money to the fund and made this possible. Her first day is today and feel free to reach out to her with thoughts, ideas and words of encouragement as she takes on the important job of defending the scientific community from politically motivated attacks. She can be reached at lkurtz@climatesciencedefensefund.org

Lauren is joining CSLDF from Dechert LLP, a top tier law firm after a multi-month hiring process. At Dechert she served as project manager on a high-profile $3 billion litigation initiative and she represented commercial and individual clients on cases involving FOIA requests and litigation over FOIA requests, discovery disputes, and defamation claims. Prior to working at Dechert, she held legal and policy positions at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  She has a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and a master’s in Environmental Policy from the University of Pennsylvania. She will be based in NYC working in an office generously provided by the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at the Columbia Law School.

Thank you again for all your support,

The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund Board of Directors

We’re Hiring — Executive Director

The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund is excited to announce that we are looking for our first executive director.  The position will be based in NYC at the offices of the Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University.

Responsibilities

  • Leading and growing the organization
  • Providing guidance to scientists
  • Organizing legal education efforts
  • Fundraising experience is a plus
  • Selecting and overseeing CSLDF’s involvement in litigation
  • Media and press outreach
  • Partner organization relationship management
  • Speaking at scientific events

Experience and Skills

  • J.D. plus 4-6 years law firm, advocacy, or government experience as a general litigator (scientific background is not required).
  • Excellent oral and written communications skills, especially the ability to translate complicated subjects to non-experts

To apply:

Please submit your CV, cover letter, and law school transcript to director@climatesciencedefensefund.org

Reasons to Celebrate

Back in 2011, the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund came together in response to the mounting legal bills of Dr. Michael Mann in protecting his email correspondence. The litigation has been ongoing for the last several years and yesterday the Virginia Supreme Court ruled in Dr. Mann’s favor. His emails and the emails that colleagues from around the world included him on will be protected from groups whose only purpose is to distract from legitimate scientific discussions. For more on the ruling see click here for the Washington Post article.

A second reason to celebrate is that through our winter fundraiser, we have raised enough money to hire our first executive director. While we are proud of the work done by volunteers in their kitchens, we are prouder that the efforts of the our supporters, volunteers and donors have reached a point where there will be a full time position created whose sole charge is to defend scientists. We are still working on the next steps and please check back for additional updates in the coming weeks. Our deepest thanks to everyone that made both of these reasons to celebrate possible.

 

 

Climate Science Legal Defense Fund Needs Your Help!

The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund (CSLDF) was launched in January 2012 by Scott Mandia and Joshua Wolfe to provide valuable legal resources to our climate scientists who are in need. CSLDF needs your help.

CSLDF needs to raise $80,000. The great news is that philanthropist Charles Zeller has graciously offered to MATCH the first $40,000 that is raised and philanthropist Peter Cross has offered to put up the first $10,000. This means CSLDF already has the first $20,000 and needs only to raise another $30,000 in private donations to reach the goal. We need your to help CSLDF reach this goal.

For the previous two years, CSLDF has been managed by Scott and Josh “from their kitchens” They both have full-time jobs and families with small children and neither receives compensation for their time. Scott and Josh have accomplished much over the years on a part-time basis. To date, CSLDF has:

  • Raised litigation fees to help Dr. Michael Mann defend climate science from politically-motivated witch-hunts.
  • Provided resources to legal experts from PEER so they could offer free legal advice to scientists at professional conferences.
  • Offered legal counsel to scientists hit with frivolous Freedom of Information Act requests.
  • Provided legal workshops to scientists at professional conferences.
  • Offered a series of legal education webinars partnering with American Geophysical Union (AGU).

But now it is time to “go professional” and that is where you can help. $80,000 can move the organization to this next level. CSLDF will use your tax-deductible donations to hire a full-time Executive Director who will manage the day to day operations of providing legal help to our experts as well as increasing fundraising efforts. Having the full-time professional helps to assure that CSLDF will be there for our scientists years down the road. After all, climate change is not going anywhere and the sad fact is that neither will the legal attacks on our scientists.

Donations are tax-deductible and can be sent by visiting the CSLDF website at climatesciencedefensefund.org and clicking the Donate button. Donations are sent to our fiscal sponsor PEER but are earmarked for CSLDF. Through PEER, a private non-profit organization organized under Section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue code, your contribution will be tax deductible.

You can also send a check made out to PEER, with Climate Science LDF on the memo line, to support effort to help scientists defend themselves:
Climate Science Legal Defense Fund
c/o PEER
2000 P Street, NW #240
Washington, D.C. 20036

International donors can use PayPal. Send to info@peer.org as the recipient and put CSLDF in the subject line of your payment.

AGU 2013

This will be our second year at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union. We are bringing a great program of legal education events this year. Please share this information with any colleagues of yours that would find it useful.

One-on-One Availability With an Attorney

For the entirety of AGU, the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund will be making available an attorney for private confidential meetings in Moscone South Mezzanine Room 264. To schedule a time email us at lawyer@climatesciencedefensefund.org or sign up outside the room if you would prefer not to put your name down.

Facing Legal Attack: Scientists Tell Their Stories
12 December 2013, 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM Moscone North Rooms 130-131

Join us for a brown-bag lunch with a panel of scientists who have experienced legal repercussions for their scientific work. Andy Dessler, Katherine Hayhoe, Michael Mann, Naomi Oreskes, Ben Santer, and Kevin Trenberth will all share their stories regarding legal issues and answer your questions. An attorney from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) will moderate the discussion and offer insight from a legal perspective.

Exhibit Hall

You don’t have any pressing legal concerns but you just want to say hi and see what we are up to. Maybe you just want a CSLDF sticker for you water bottle. Please visit us at booth #917

New Climate Science Legal Defense Fund T-Shirts

 

As the summer progresses, we are still raising funds towards our $35,000 goal. Help us get there by purchasing one of our red CSLDF t-shirts. Our supporters in the US can purchase the t-shirt here. T-shirts are $30 and go a long way to helping us provide legal services to the climate science community. International donors please add $10 for shipping and send the donation via paypal to info@peer.org. In your donation specify the size of t-shirt.

Thanks for your continued support,
Joshua Wolfe & Scott Mandia
www.climatesciencedefensefund.org

Climate Science Legal Defense Fund Summer Fundraiser

Thanks to everyone who has supported our growth and development to date. We have had great successes in our first year and half and we hope to continue to build on those. To continue our programing through the end of the year we need to raise $35,000 this summer and need your help to reach our goal. The money will go to two projects of ours. First, it will retire the debt owed by Dr. Michael Mann for attorney’s fees in the FOIA case over his UVA emails. Read more about the case here.

The money will also go towards continuing our program of sending attorneys to scientific meetings. There we offer confidential pro-bono meetings for members of the scientific community. After meeting with an attorney at the American Geophysical Union conference last December, one scientist wrote us: “I was glad to be able to talk to an attorney who deeply cared about the integrity of the science and helping individual scientists. I am very grateful to the CSLDF for arranging for these sessions.” We feel that legal defense does not just include blockbuster cases like Dr. Mann’s, but making sure that scientists have the opportunity to discuss their concerns with a legal expert before an issue becomes a problem.

Please consider donating to our summer fundraising drive to make these two programs possible. Donate at www.climatesciencedefensefund.org. International donors can send a PayPal to info@peer.org. You can also receive a t-shirt with your donation by going to: http://climatesciencedefensefund.org/feature/buy-stuff/

Thanks for your support,

Scott and Josh

Climate Science Legal Defense Fund at AGU

Next week more than 20,000 members of the geosciences community gather in San Francisco for the 45th Annual Meeting of the American Geophysical Union. The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund will be there with a full slate of programs and opportunities.

Throughout the conference, CSLDF will have lawyers available for one-on-one meetings with scientists. Please email us at lawyer@climatesciencedefensefund.org to reserve a time. You can also reserve time confidentially between 8am-3pm Monday thru Wednesday at Moscone South: Mezzanine – Room 264

We will be in the exhibit hall at booth #140. Stop by to say hello and find out what we have planned for next year.

You can also spend your lunchtime with CSLDF and hear from lawyers who deal with the challenges that scientists face everyday. Here is the schedule of workshops:

Monday 3 Dec 2012 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
Legal Duties to Preserve and Disclose Scientific Data and Personal Communications
San Francisco Marriott Marquis – Salon 10

Michael Gerrard, director of the Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University will discuss the increasing number of Freedom of Information Act requests and subpoenas that scientists are facing, and what kinds of documents scientists are required to disclose and to whom. Special attention will be devoted to e-mail and social media.

Tuesday 4 Dec 2012 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
The Law for Government Scientists
San Francisco Marriott Marquis – Salon 10

Kit Douglass from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) will discuss how legal provisions that affect you as a government scientist.

Wednesday 5 December 2012 from 12:30 – 1:30PM
An Inside Look at the Michael Mann Case
Moscone South: Mezzanine – Room 226

Peter Fontaine, counsel to Michael Mann and a leader of Cozen O’Connor’s Brownfield Development and Climate Change practices will use examples from recent Freedom of Information Act litigation American Tradition Institute v. University of Virginia to discuss the application of state public records acts to researcher electronic correspondence, the interplay between the Federal FOIA and state laws, practical issues related to document review, potential exemptions to protect correspondence from disclosure, and other legal theories for the protection of correspondence, such as the First Amendment and Academic Freedom, and emerging trends in this dynamic intersection between science and the law.

American Geophysical Union/Climate Science Legal Defense Fund Legal Education Webinar Series

American Geophysical Union/Climate Science Legal Defense Fund Legal Education Webinar Series

In recent years, an increasing number of scientists have found themselves involved in legal discussions about their work, their correspondence, and their public statements. To better prepare the scientific community for these challenges, AGU and CSLDF have put together a legal education program for the scientific community. The goal is to both give a primer on the legal issues facing scientists and update them on legal situations currently making their way through the courts.

The legal education program will start with a series of webinars featuring some of the lawyers on the front lines of climate science litigation. These webinars will be followed by a series of legal education events at AGU’s 2012 Fall Meeting.

RSVP to sciencepolicy@agu.org for any or all of the following webinars:

Michael Gerrard

19 September at 12:00h EST
What Documents Must Scientists Keep and Disclose?
Online archive (Adobe Connect must be installed. Get it here.)

Many scientists, especially climate scientists, have received subpoenas, Freedom of Information Act requests, and other demands for their e-mails, letters, raw data, and other communications. If they have not kept all this information, they are sometimes accused of destroying evidence. This webinar will discuss (1) the kinds of documents scientists are required by law to keep (depending largely on their employment situation) and (2) the kinds of documents scientists are required to disclose and to whom, based on the type of legal demand. Special attention will be devoted to e-mail (both in office and home systems) and to social media (Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc.) communications.

Michael Gerrard is the director of the Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University. Formerly the managing partner of the 110-lawyer New York office of Arnold & Porter LLP, Gerrard is the most prolific writer on environmental law in the United States. He has written or edited seven books in the field, two of which were named best law book of the year by the American Association of Publishers—Environmental Law Practice Guide (12 volumes, 1992) and Brownfields Law and Practice (4 volumes, 1998). His most recent books are the second edition of The Law of Environmental Justice (ABA, 2008), and Global Climate Change and U.S. Law (American Bar Association, 2007). These activities have given Gerrard a high profile around the world. Legal Media Group’s Guide to the World’s Leading Environment Lawyers, based on 4,000 questionnaires, reported that he “received more personal nominations for this guide than any other lawyer in the world.” Gerrard has consistently been ranked as either the single leading environmental lawyer in New York or as tied for first.

Peter Fontaine

22 October at 12:00h EST
An Inside Look at the Michael Mann Case

This webinar will provide an overview of the ongoing Freedom of Information Act litigation American Tradition Institute v. University of Virginia, Prince William County. It will be hosted by Peter Fontaine, counsel to Dr. Michael Mann. The free-ranging discussion will include issues related to Dr. Mann’s personal intervention in the case, application of state public records acts to researcher electronic correspondence, the interplay between the Federal FOIA and state laws, practical issues related to document review, potential exemptions to protect correspondence from disclosure, and other legal theories for the protection of correspondence, such as the First Amendment and Academic Freedom, and emerging trends in this dynamic intersection between science and the law.

Peter Fontaine is a leader of Cozen O’Connor’s Brownfield Development and Climate Change practices, which rely on his prior experience as a United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lawyer at its Washington, D. C. headquarters. From 1990 to 1992, Pete was an Attorney-Advisor in EPA’s Air Enforcement Division, where he helped draft EPA’s enforcement regulations under the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments and was an expert on enforcement of New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) and New Source Review (NSR) for power plants and municipal waste combustors. In 1992, he was asked to serve on EPA’s first Multimedia Enforcement Task Force. Pete planned and executed EPA’s 1992 national enforcement initiative against the pulp and paper industry, for which he received EPA’s Award for Excellence.

Jeff Ruch

13 November at 12:00h EST
State Public Record Laws Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)

PEER has spent the last several months surveying state public records laws to compile a review of provisions affecting university scientists. PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch will compare and contrast different state laws as well as the Federal Freedom of Information Act, and he will discuss how these laws can affect university researchers.

PEER is a national nonprofit service organization assisting public agency scientists, attorneys, and other specialists working on environmental issues. Headquartered in D. C., PEER has seven field offices across the country. Jeff Ruch has been the Executive Director of PEER since 1997. Prior to that, Jeff was the Policy Director and a staff attorney at the Government Accountability Project representing whistleblowers from both the public and private sector. Before coming to D. C., Jeff worked in California state government for 17 years, mostly in the State Legislature as counsel to various committees, where he drafted hundreds of laws on topics ranging from energy conservation to the rights of employed inventors.