Coal Tattoo

Jury sends note seeking clarification

Jurors in the Don Blankenship trial this afternoon asked U.S. District Judge Irene Berger to define for them the words “condone” and “strive.”

Berger said the jury sent her a note asking for more information about those words, which are at the heart of two of the three felony counts pending against Blankenship.

Blankenship is charged with making a false statement and securities fraud based on the statement Massey Energy issued after the Upper Big Branch mine disaster, saying the company did not condone mine safety violations and strove to be in compliance with all laws at all times.

Berger called lawyers and the jury into the courtroom shortly after 2:30 p.m. and told the jury she had given them all of the legal instructions she could related to those counts of the indictment.

Berger also explained that the 30-minute closed-door session this morning was held so she and the lawyers could question two jurors who reported that they had been approached by a member of the media. Berger said the jurors did not talk to the media representative, and she asked news reporters to stay away from jurors while they are deliberating.

Berger said she plans to call the jury back in before the end of the day Friday and advise them that, if they have not reached a verdict by then, she would give them the Friday after Thanksgiving off, and probably the Wednesday before off as well.