Legal Newsline Quotes Connor Mullin on D.C. Appeals Court Defamation Suit Ruling

Legal Newsline has quoted Akin Gump litigation counsel Connor Mullin in the article “Court rules climate change scientist’s defamation suit can proceed.” The article reports on a D.C. Court of Appeals decision allowing a prominent scientist’s suit against two individuals for defamation and the intentional infliction of emotional distress to move forward. It stems from a report by Dr. Michael Mann depicting a dramatic increase in global temperatures during the 20th century, which the defendants opposed.

The trial court refused to dismiss the suit and, after the appeals court agreed, Mullin said, “I think the court’s point is that it’s one thing to take issue with Dr. Mann’s conclusions but questioning his professionalism or claiming that he manipulated data is not constitutionally protected activity.”

Mullin continued, “A common misconception is that opinions are immune to a defamation suit. The opinions showed that courts are going to play a critical role in our post-fact world. In court, it really comes down to admissible evidence. The court painstakingly set forth four separate investigations by various independent bodies that concluded that Dr. Mann did not manipulate data.”

The article notes that the failure by the defendants to retract what they said about Mann prompted him to continue with the suit. Mullin explained, “I think that a retraction wasn’t done because withdrawing or correcting a story after publication can be embarrassing professionally. It’s not uncommon for journalists to resist having to issue a retraction and obviously the authors have strong views about global warming.”