The fantastic Chris Horner, writing at BigGovernment.com, explains why the judge that ruled against Virginia AG Ken Cuccinelli in the Commonwealth’s fraud case against the University of Virginia should have recused himself.
As we had in California with a gay judge ruling for gay marriage, now we have a judge with a conflict of interest ruling for his wife’s former employer. In both cases, these judges should have at least recused themselves. But, this is why judges like this are called ‘activists.’
As you can read , retired Albemarle County (Virginia) Circuit Judge Paul Peatross has that Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli may not have access to records under Virginia’s Fraud Against Taxpayers Act, as he seeks to determine the propriety of Michael “Hockey Stick” Mann’s claims made to obtain research funding. Judge Peatross’s ruling protects Mann, the University, and specifically the Department of Environmental Sciences, at least for now.
Here’s the rub, on which I will have more to say. I attended the hearing a week ago Friday at which the parties argued the University’s motion to dismiss. The Deputy AG Wesley Russell’s arguments dominated, so badly I almost felt sorry for the University. The judge’s queries were puzzling, as he pleaded with the University’s counsel to come up with some argument how he might rule in their favor, as were other comments (continue reading).
Before the hearing commenced Peatross, substituting for the vacationing chief judge, cited his wife’s 1982 degree in environmental science from UVA – oddly, he then said “but not in global warming” — as part of a rather spare recitation of why he was hearing of this case (which he attested he had never heard about until reading the briefs that morning. A prominent case in the local, state and national news assigned to his old court! This man takes his retirement seriously…), and articulating his history so that counsel might decide whether he carried any conflict such that he should not hear the University’s motion.
That fact of her 1982 degree from Mann’s former Department, apparently, was relevant. Okay. But…