Ad hominem criticisms are touchy matters: they can get personal and irrelevant very quickly, and as such can badly distract from the issue at hand. One must be very careful with them, and make sure any to be used are, in fact, germane.
I say this because (as you, dear readers, may have guessed) I am about to engage in one against retired Judge Paul Peatross – the jurist who recently ruled in the matter of Ken Cuccinelli’s Climategate probe of UVa and Michael Mann. For the most part, Peatross’ ruling was bad news. Although he did leave open a road for Cuccinelli to press on, he all but stated he thought Cuccinelli couldn’t win. Lefty blogs have been rejoicing ever since.
Yesterday, though, Chris Horner noted something about His Honor Mr. Peatross that put the entire thing in a new and different light (Big Govt., emphasis in original):
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…
The fact that the judge’s wife had in fact previously worked in that Department of Environmental Sciences — the very Department that stands to suffer should he have ruled in favor of the Attorney General – was somehow not worth disclosing to counsel.
I only learned of this after the hearing by others who had also worked at the same time Ms. Peatross did, in messages expressing astonishment that her husband would decide such a matter given the obvious appearance of an inability to objectively hear it.
Also not worth disclosing was that Ms. Peatross’s relationships go much deeper, being, e.g., lauded for her role in producing a book edited by the Department’s then-chairman during Mann’s alleged hijinks, as well as, it appears, at least two of his papers.
Now, to be completely accurate, it is an open question whether Ms. Peatross worked for the Department of Environmental Sciences, or simply in the building, physically (which I am told with no doubts that she did), for one of two particular former colleagues of Mann’s (and one supervisor at the relevant times) in their consultancies. The latter response, if it were the case, would beg other questions about mixing research and consulting. Which is to say, there is no good answer to the question. Which may be why the University refused to answer it when I asked. Four times.
So, we have a judge who is married to a woman who worked in the same University Department that employed Mann – either as a direct employee of the Department or as part of a consultancy of a colleague of Mann - and thus whose career and credibility would be directly affected by the case over which he presides . . . and he doesn’t tell anyone.
I’d call that germane.
I’m also far more certain that Cuccinelli will not only take the road Judge Peatross left him, but also appeal the parts of the ruling that did not go his way. Given the information above, he really has no choice, IMHO.