Court Lifts Gag Order On Coal Baron Don Blankenship in Criminal Trial

on

The media will finally get a glimpse into the criminal activity of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, as a federal appeals court has decided to lift a gag order that had been in place on the court proceedings that began with a criminal indictment against Blankenship in November 2014.

The gag order prevented the court proceedings from being made public, and barred the participants in the suit from speaking to the media. But the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals said that the order could not be sustained any longer, following a lawsuit by media outlets in the U.S.

Blankenship was indicted in November of last year on a host of charges, including conspiracy to violate mine safety and health laws, conspiracy to impede federal mine safety officials, making false statements to the SEC, and securities fraud. These activities that Blankenship allegedly participated in are what led to the 2010 Upper Big Branch mine explosion that claimed the lives of 29 miners. Blankenship retired from Massey eight months after the explosion.

The Brad Blog has more:

On November 13, 2014, just one day after the indictments against Blankenship had been handed down by a federal grand jury, [U.S. District Court Judge Irene] Berger ordered “that neither the parties, their counsel, other representatives or members of their staff, potential witnesses, including actual and alleged victims, investigators, family members of actual and alleged victims as well as of the Defendant, nor any court personnel shall make any statements of any nature, in any form, or release any documents to the media or any other entity regarding the facts or substance of this case.”

Berger’s gag order had been issued sua sponte, meaning, on the judge’s own accord, without a specific request by either the prosecution or defendant.

While the prosecution filed no motion in response to the media petitioners’ challenge, Blankenship had objected to lifting the gag order in the case.

Lifting the order will now allow the victims of Blankenship’s criminal negligence to speak to the media, and to tell their stories about how the coal company’s conduct has destroyed their lives.

If convicted, the 64-year-old Blankenship could face up to 31 years in prison.

Farron Cousins is the executive editor of The Trial Lawyer magazine, and his articles have appeared on The Huffington Post, Alternet, and The Progressive Magazine. He has worked for the Ring of Fire radio program with hosts Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Mike Papantonio, and Sam Seder since August 2004, and is currently the co-host and producer of the program. He also currently serves as the co-host of Ring of Fire on Free Speech TV, a daily program airing nightly at 8:30pm eastern. Farron received his bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of West Florida in 2005 and became a member of American MENSA in 2009.  Follow him on Twitter @farronbalanced.

Related Posts

on

Municipalities aim to hold industry liable for damages from catastrophic 2017 hurricanes.

Municipalities aim to hold industry liable for damages from catastrophic 2017 hurricanes.
Opinion
on

This isn’t the first time the science denial group has attempted to undermine the idea that climate scientists overwhelmingly agree humans are causing climate change.

This isn’t the first time the science denial group has attempted to undermine the idea that climate scientists overwhelmingly agree humans are causing climate change.
on

Some residents of Dimock, Pennsylvania have not had clean water for 14 years because of Cabot Oil & Gas’ fracking operations. A “historic” plea caps off the landmark fracking case and will result in the restoration of clean drinking water.

Some residents of Dimock, Pennsylvania have not had clean water for 14 years because of Cabot Oil & Gas’ fracking operations. A “historic” plea caps off the landmark fracking case and will result in the restoration of clean drinking water.
on

"Lack of regulation makes for a Wild West of sustainable fund management", Edward Lander from Ethical Consumer said.

"Lack of regulation makes for a Wild West of sustainable fund management", Edward Lander from Ethical Consumer said.