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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A lawyer looks at Mann v. Steyn

...Interpolating for Mann v. Steyn an accurate jury instruction might go like this:

1700. Defamation per se—Essential Factual Elements (Public Officer/Figure and Limited Public Figure)
Michael Mann claims that Mark Steyn harmed him by making the following statement: “Michael Mann’s hockey stick is fraudulent”
To establish this claim, Michael Mann must prove that all of the following are more likely true than not true:
Liability -
That Mark Steyn made the statement to a person other than Michael Mann; 
That this person reasonably understood that the Statement was about Michael Mann;
That this person  reasonably understood the statement to mean that Michael Mann had used  falsified or improperly selected data and computer programs in creating his hockey stick graph;
In addition, Michael Mann  must prove by clear and convincing evidence that Mark Steyn knew the statement was false or had serious doubts about the truth of the statement.

So Michael Mann has a heavy burden to shoulder in order to win. He (not Mark Steyn) has the burden of proving that the statements are false AND he has to prove that Mark Steyn , at the time Steyn made the statements, believed them to be false or entertained serious doubts about the truth of the statement...


Drewski said...

What if Mark Steyn knew that respected scientific authorities had previously ruled the hockey stick to be NOT fraudulent but Steyn consciously chose to not accept these rulings as accurate?

Or that Steyn felt that the quality of the study behind the hockey stick was so poor and/or overlooked vital information that it rose to the level of fraudulent, although perhaps not done deliberately by Mann.

Richard K said...

Except there are plenty of scientific authorities who say, and evidence to support that Mann's "Hockey Stick" is based on fudged data. UC Berkeley prof Richard Muller said Mann's data would not have survived peer review in any publication he would be involved with. He also suggested that Mann's data is so fraudulent that he wouldn't even read a paper from him any more.


Conrad Dunkerson said...

The last condition is incomplete. Mann does NOT need to prove that Steyn knew or suspected that his own statements were false. That would be ONE way for Mann to win the case, but it is NOT the only way. The condition Steyn's apologists always seem to leave out is, "reckless disregard for the truth".

Steyn made his statements despite knowing that Mann had been cleared of fraud by multiple investigations (e.g. NAS and PSU). Given that, the only way he DOESN'T get hit by "reckless disregard for the truth" is if he can make a compelling case that his own detailed knowledge allowed him to reasonably dispute the findings of the experts who conducted those investigations. Given that Steyn recently claimed the hockey stick is a climate model which failed to predict the 'pause' in lower atmosphere warming it is clear that he doesn't even know what the hockey stick IS, let alone have detailed knowledge with which to refute the findings of experts. This is blatant 'reckless disregard'.