Past Event

American Geophysical Union/Climate Science Legal Defense Fund Legal Education Webinar Series

American Geophysical Union/Climate Science Legal Defense Fund Legal Education Webinar Series

In recent years, an increasing number of scientists have found themselves involved in legal discussions about their work, their correspondence, and their public statements. To better prepare the scientific community for these challenges, AGU and CSLDF have put together a legal education program for the scientific community. The goal is to both give a primer on the legal issues facing scientists and update them on legal situations currently making their way through the courts.

The legal education program will start with a series of webinars featuring some of the lawyers on the front lines of climate science litigation. These webinars will be followed by a series of legal education events at AGU’s 2012 Fall Meeting.

RSVP to for any or all of the following webinars:

Michael Gerrard

19 September at 12:00h EST
What Documents Must Scientists Keep and Disclose?
Online archive (Adobe Connect must be installed. Get it here.)

Many scientists, especially climate scientists, have received subpoenas, Freedom of Information Act requests, and other demands for their e-mails, letters, raw data, and other communications. If they have not kept all this information, they are sometimes accused of destroying evidence. This webinar will discuss (1) the kinds of documents scientists are required by law to keep (depending largely on their employment situation) and (2) the kinds of documents scientists are required to disclose and to whom, based on the type of legal demand. Special attention will be devoted to e-mail (both in office and home systems) and to social media (Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc.) communications.

Michael Gerrard is the director of the Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University. Formerly the managing partner of the 110-lawyer New York office of Arnold & Porter LLP, Gerrard is the most prolific writer on environmental law in the United States. He has written or edited seven books in the field, two of which were named best law book of the year by the American Association of Publishers—Environmental Law Practice Guide (12 volumes, 1992) and Brownfields Law and Practice (4 volumes, 1998). His most recent books are the second edition of The Law of Environmental Justice (ABA, 2008), and Global Climate Change and U.S. Law (American Bar Association, 2007). These activities have given Gerrard a high profile around the world. Legal Media Group’s Guide to the World’s Leading Environment Lawyers, based on 4,000 questionnaires, reported that he “received more personal nominations for this guide than any other lawyer in the world.” Gerrard has consistently been ranked as either the single leading environmental lawyer in New York or as tied for first.

Peter Fontaine

22 October at 12:00h EST
An Inside Look at the Michael Mann Case

This webinar will provide an overview of the ongoing Freedom of Information Act litigation American Tradition Institute v. University of Virginia, Prince William County. It will be hosted by Peter Fontaine, counsel to Dr. Michael Mann. The free-ranging discussion will include issues related to Dr. Mann’s personal intervention in the case, application of state public records acts to researcher electronic correspondence, the interplay between the Federal FOIA and state laws, practical issues related to document review, potential exemptions to protect correspondence from disclosure, and other legal theories for the protection of correspondence, such as the First Amendment and Academic Freedom, and emerging trends in this dynamic intersection between science and the law.

Peter Fontaine is a leader of Cozen O’Connor’s Brownfield Development and Climate Change practices, which rely on his prior experience as a United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lawyer at its Washington, D. C. headquarters. From 1990 to 1992, Pete was an Attorney-Advisor in EPA’s Air Enforcement Division, where he helped draft EPA’s enforcement regulations under the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments and was an expert on enforcement of New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) and New Source Review (NSR) for power plants and municipal waste combustors. In 1992, he was asked to serve on EPA’s first Multimedia Enforcement Task Force. Pete planned and executed EPA’s 1992 national enforcement initiative against the pulp and paper industry, for which he received EPA’s Award for Excellence.

Jeff Ruch

13 November at 12:00h EST
State Public Record Laws Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)

PEER has spent the last several months surveying state public records laws to compile a review of provisions affecting university scientists. PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch will compare and contrast different state laws as well as the Federal Freedom of Information Act, and he will discuss how these laws can affect university researchers.

PEER is a national nonprofit service organization assisting public agency scientists, attorneys, and other specialists working on environmental issues. Headquartered in D. C., PEER has seven field offices across the country. Jeff Ruch has been the Executive Director of PEER since 1997. Prior to that, Jeff was the Policy Director and a staff attorney at the Government Accountability Project representing whistleblowers from both the public and private sector. Before coming to D. C., Jeff worked in California state government for 17 years, mostly in the State Legislature as counsel to various committees, where he drafted hundreds of laws on topics ranging from energy conservation to the rights of employed inventors.

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