California Court Orders Release of Public Records: Correspondence of Member of Plaintiffs' Tort Team - Climate Litigation Watch

California Court Orders Release of Public Records: Correspondence of Member of Plaintiffs’ Tort Team

GAO prevails in suit seeking records to educate on how public institutions come to be used, with whom: Academics involved in “going after climate denialism along with a bunch of state and local prosecutors,” Biden Administration lawyer also tied to judicial briefings on plaintiffs’ climate tort arguments

The Superior Court of California for the County of Los Angeles today issued a tentative ruling in Government Accountability & Oversight v. Regents, which ruling the court stuck to after the hearing later that day, presumably the final hearing in litigation seeking certain public records held by UCLA Law School which suit began in April 2020.

The complaint is available here, setting forth what was at stake and its public importance.

As the ruling shows, among the categories of records the court ordered released was one consisting of many emails the Regents claimed were “not public records” and therefore would not deign to even describe. In an interesting development late last month, after having made its case (and seen GAO’s response laying out the problems therewith) Regents belatedly released something resembling the log of those emails the court had ordered Regents produce, and it declined to. This log showed the “not public records” include not only correspondence about the faculty’s work with the plaintiffs’ tort team, using and as part of the faculty’s university work (including some emails that Regents previously acknowledged were public records and released), but others involving the organic ringleader of the campaign to recruit state attorneys general to pursue “climate denialism,” Union of Concerned Scientists.

Speaking of UCS, CLW readers recall that UCLA Law School was home to its partners

…and another faculty member, Ann Carlson, who while at UCLA was a key member of the climate litigation industry who has gone on leave to help impose the climate agenda through executive action.

Prof. Carlson was also a member of the board and the governance committee of the Environmental Law Institute when it aggressively moved, in the wake of federal court decisions unfavorable to the plaintiffs, to organize a series of briefings of the plaintiffs’ case for federal judges that is ongoing, according to a recent webinar (which the presenters asserted would be posted, if edited, at some point).

Late in the proceedings, the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund sought to file an amicus brief in support of keeping these many public records about the “Climate Litigation Interface” from the public, which move the court rejected.

Last month the court also rejected the other late-hour maneuvering by the Regents described, above, to make up for various deficiencies in its handling of the matter throughout. Things continued to trend GAO’s way in recent months leading up to today’s ruling.

GAO was represented in Los Angeles through the extremely gifted and tenacious counsel of James K.T. Hunter.

UPDATE: The court’s final order can be found here.