MORGANTOWN, WEST VIRGINIA— WVU Law professor Patrick McGinley recently offered some insight into the ongoing court case against Don Blankenship, the former CEO of Massey Energy.
Massey Energy owned the Upper Big Branch mine where an explosion in 2010 killed 29 miners. Blankenship is facing federal charges of conspiracy to violate federal mine safety and health standards, conspiracy to impede federal mine safety officials, making false statements to the Securities and Exchange Commission, and securities fraud.
Presiding over the Blankenship case is United States District Court Judge Irene C. Berger, WVU Law Class of 1979,
According to the Beckley (West Virginia) Register-Herald, Blankenship’s attorneys have request two separate trials for the charges. The paper also reported that the attorneys requested that evidence of the mine explosion and laws related to the prevention of mine disasters be excluded from the trial.
McGinley told the Registered-Herald he doubts any of these motions will be granted.
“My view is that’s what prosecutors are supposed to do — present admissible evidence that’s prejudicial to a criminal defendant. What isn’t permissible is unfairly prejudicial evidence,” he said in the article.
“I think the most important part is the judge is a gatekeeper of evidence, She will be on the lookout for evidence offered by the prosecution that would be unfairly prejudicial.”