The Wall Street Journal weighed in editorially on the trial of Don Blankenship. I concur. He should not have been tried.
From the Wall Street Journal:
The Obama Justice Department has made the prosecution of business executives a priority, without much to show for the effort. Its latest disappointment came Friday when a jury rejected all felony charges in the ballyhooed prosecution of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship.
True. I wrote this on October 8, 2015, as the two-month trial of Don Blankenship began:Many readers may have thought he’d already been convicted given the one-sided news coverage of the case. Mr. Blankenship made many political enemies by spending millions to elect Republicans to the West Virginia Supreme Court and legislature. So when Massey’s Upper Big Branch coal mine exploded in 2010, killing 29 workers, Mr. Blankenship became a high-value target.
Liberals are ghouls. They pounce on and exploit any tragedy to further their agenda, which is government control of everything, and liberals in control of the government. Thus no one should be surprised that liberals jumped on the April 5, 2010, methane gas explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine in Raleigh County, West Virginia, which killed 29 men. The mine was owned by Massey Energy, which was run by Don Blankenship, who for 30 years fought the unions and other liberals in West Virginia.His conviction of one flimsy charge came after 10 days of jury deliberations spread over three weeks time, pressured by Judge Irene Berger to come up with a verdict.
The Journal ripped Democrat Booth Goodwin, a political appointee of the well-connected Goodwin family whose ties to Senator Joe Manchin are almost familial. From the Journal:
The jury found the 65-year-old Mr. Blankenship not guilty of the most serious securities-related charges and lying to prosecutors. The prosecutors did get their way on a single misdemeanor charge of conspiracy to violate safety laws. Mr. Blankenship could face up to a year in prison on that conviction, though his lawyers say he will appeal. And he might still prevail.
No one else was charged with the conspiracy, including executives who operated between the CEO and the mine and those in charge of day-to-day mine operations. The charge of “willfully” impeding federal mine inspectors rested on a single instance in which Mr. Blankenship — after being told by an employee that he needed to cancel a lunch because inspectors had arrived — asked if “the crews knew they were coming.” It’s common for mines to notify crews if inspectors are present, by the way.
Contrary to Justice policy, Mr. Goodwin did not notify Mr. Blankenship that he was a legal target, a policy designed to give defendants an opportunity to show why they should not be indicted. For nine months the government also denied the existence of certain Mine Safety and Health Administration documents, only to dump 72,000 pages on the defense three weeks before trial.Judge Berger severely disappointed me. I knew her when she was a prosecutor. A win on appeal has a chance. But the damage is done.
The Journal concluded: "The Obama Administration heralded the misdemeanor conviction as a great triumph and a warning to all other CEOs. It isn’t a legal triumph but it is a warning. It signals that this Justice Department is intent on turning industrial accidents into crimes even based on flimsy evidence."
The press in West Virginia should do some soul searching. The conviction was likely just to end jury duty. That was after no defense was presented. Perhaps the assumptions about Upper Big Branch were wrong.
And by "perhaps" I mean they were.