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Thu Oct 15, 2015, 08:44 AM

Blankenship trial—Prosecutors win key pre-trial motions; UBB miners testify

Charleston Gazette-Mail

Prosecutors won key pre-trial motions in Blankenship case

A federal judge ruled with government prosecutors on many of the pending evidentiary motions that were decided on the eve of trial in the Don Blankenship case, according to a previously confidential transcript of a closed-door court session. ( http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20151014/GZ15/151019722/1453#sthash.3QJOX7rJ.dpuf )


Berger granted motions from U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin’s team to block the defense from arguing that federal mine safety standards were wrong. She also ruled that Blankenship cannot try to argue that his prosecution is politically motivated or present evidence about the economic importance of the coal industry.

Also, Berger denied a key defense motion to stop prosecutors from presenting evidence about Blankenship’s compensation and stock holdings.


Berger also denied a motion by the defense to block the prosecution from having U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration citations used as evidence in the case against Blankenship.

The judge granted a defense motion to prohibit evidence about previous criminal convictions of Massey subsidiaries in safety cases. Prosecutors had argued that such evidence would go to show Blankenship’s willfulness.


More miners tell jury about Upper Big Branch safety problems

Jurors in the criminal trial of former Massey Energy Co. CEO Don Blankenship heard Wednesday from three former coal miners who described rampant safety problems at Massey’s Upper Big Branch Mine prior to the April 2010 explosion that killed 29 workers.

Gary Young described for jurors how he was frequently frustrated when trying to do his job spreading crushed limestone, or “rockdust,” around the walls, floor and roof the underground mine to prevent deadly explosions. Dusting machines were broken, he said. Supplies ran short and he couldn’t get a mine locomotive to pull his dusting machine underground, Young testified.


Another former Upper Big Branch miner, Michael Smith, told jurors that proper ventilation was a recurring problem at the Raleigh County operation


Smith also described for jurors how mine management and others at Upper Big Branch used code words when they called underground to warn workers when federal inspectors were headed into the mine, so that safety violations could be fixed before Massey was cited for them.


A third miner, Brent Racer, told jurors that safety never seemed to be a priority at Upper Big Branch, despite Massey’s “S1, P2” safety slogan, which was touted as meaning that safety came first and coal production came second.

“It seemed like, most of the time, it was P1, S2,” Racer told jurors.

Testifying on the fifth day in a trial in which Blankenship faces three felony charges, Young, Smith and Racer also testified that they weren’t aware of any safety initiatives touted earlier in the day by Blankenship’s defense lawyers ever actually being implemented.


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Reply Blankenship trial—Prosecutors win key pre-trial motions; UBB miners testify (Original post)
Panich52 Oct 2015 OP
hobbit709 Oct 2015 #1

Response to Panich52 (Original post)

Thu Oct 15, 2015, 08:51 AM

1. Fitting punishment would be to put him to work in a mine with no safety equipment.

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