Coal Tattoo

Mine Explosion Congress


In case you missed it, we posted a story very late last night based on a quick glimpse through the federal government’s response brief, filed in Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship’s appeal, which is pending at the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals:

Federal prosecutors on Monday urged an appeals court to uphold last year’s landmark conviction of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship for a mine safety conspiracy.

“The only thing novel about the charge against defendant is that, in this case, it was pursued against the CEO of a major mining company, instead of against low-ranking miners,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Ruby wrote in a brief filed with the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Late Monday night, Ruby filed a 97-page legal brief with the 4th Circuit, spelling out the federal government’s response to Blankenship’s appeal of his conviction.

“Defendant may believe himself to be more important than those past defendants, and perhaps though that his position insulated him from legal scrutiny,” Ruby wrote. “But there is nothing new about the legal authorities that were brought to bear in his prosecution.”

You can read the brief for yourself here (and you can read Blankenship’s appeal brief here).

Here’s another interesting quote from Ruby’s brief:

Defendant suggests that because 29 coal miners were killed at UBB, he must have been convicted because of the emotion and public outcry that the UBB explosion aroused, not because of his own rampant law-breaking.  Defendant raised this theory in a pretrial motion that the trial court rejected and whose denial, again, he does not appeal. That motion detailed his intricate fantasies that he was prosecuted because of an internet video he released touting his theory of the UBB explosion, or because of a vaguely described political conspiracy to frame him for the explosion. Id. The trial court found not a shred of evidence to support any of it. Defendant may be correct that not every mine where workers die is the scene of law-breaking, but the  evidence showed that this one was, and that he was behind it—and a jury of his peers fairly convicted him of his crime.

Oral argument in the appeal is set for Oct. 26 in Richmond, Virginia.