November 10, 2015
CSLDF is pleased to announce that the Arizona Court of Appeals has granted its motion to participate as amicus curiae, or “friend of the court.” Last month, CSLDF filed an amicus brief urging the Arizona Court of Appeals to protect climate scientists’ files from invasive open records requests by E&E Legal. As described in our brief, E&E Legal’s requests are “part of a broader strategy of attacking individual scientists as a way to try to discredit theories or even entire fields of study.” (Please read more about our amicus brief here.)
The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) also filed their own amicus brief, which was also accepted by the Court of Appeals. The Court’s order is available here.
There is no provision under Arizona appellate rules for opposing an amicus brief. Nonetheless, on the very same day that the Court entered its approval, both amicus briefs were simultaneously opposed by E&E Legal. In their own brief, E&E Legal claims that CSLDF’s “vituperative proposed brief has one purpose, to cast a negative light on Appellant’s motive for making a Public Records Act information request, and argues that such motives are somehow important to the resolution of the case.” Notwithstanding the Court’s own order to the contrary, E&E Legal then argues that “the Court is without authority to allow CSLDF to file as amicus curiae.”
E&E Legal, formerly named the American Tradition Institute, has a history of “filing nuisance suits to disrupt important academic research,” especially litigating abusive open records requests, as part of a mission to convince “the public to believe human-caused global warming is a scientific fraud.” CSLDF’s amicus brief thus sought to provide background on E&E’s pattern of harassing climate scientists, and to ask the Court to protect climate scientists caught in the crosshairs of E&E Legal and similar groups.
This is exactly the purpose of an amicus brief: “[a]s acknowledged by the courts themselves, amicus briefs can provide valuable assistance in judicial deliberations. . . . Amicus briefs can provide valuable assistance to a court by explaining the effect of affirmance or reversal on an industry, or on various segments of society.” While it is impossible to know how the Arizona Court of Appeals will ultimately rule, the Court clearly saw value in allowing us to participate as a “friend of the court” – even if that is inconvenient for E&E Legal.