14 January 2008

Spike & Don's Excellent European Vacation? (Updated)

(photo from court filing)

The apparent relationship between Supreme Court Chief Justice Elliott "Spike" Maynard and the head of Massey Energy Co. has become an issue in a case before the court.

As The Associated Press reports, a Monday filing invokes photos of Maynard and Don Blankenship together in Monte Carlo in the summer of 2006 to argue the justice's removal from the Harman Mining case.

Maynard helped form the 3-2 majority that overturned the $76.3 million judgment won by Harman and its president, Hugh Caperton, in a contract dispute with Massey.

Caperton's lawyers have asked the Supreme Court to reconsider that ruling, and want Maynard disqualified from that proceeding. They also argue Maynard should withdraw his vote from the November decision.

A Massey spokesman says that the two men vacationing within 13 miles of each other on the Riviera at the same time is a coincidence. From the AP story:

A Massey spokesman said Maynard and Blankenship did meet up that summer, but while vacationing separately in Monaco and Nice, France, about 13 miles away.

"While there, they did meet up for lunch and dinner occasionally together," spokesman Jeff Gillenwater said.

Gillenwater said he did not believe the two had coordinated their vacation plans.

"They're both from Mingo County, and they've known each other for years," Gillenwater said.

Massey sued the Supreme Court one month after the European meet-up. The federal lawsuit, still pending, alleges the court "violates due process rights by denying impartial reviews when justices refuse to disqualify themselves from hearing cases," the article said.

AP also notes that "State court rules require judicial officers to disqualify themselves from proceedings if their 'impartiality might reasonably be questioned,' or they have 'a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party or a party's lawyer,' among other factors."

Maynard announced plans last year to run for re-election in 2008.

MetroNews also has the story.

Update: The New York Times has the story (and some of the photos).

Update II:
Others with the story today include The Charleston Gazette (with photos). Also, Blankenship is on the board of directors of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. An organ bankrolled by that group in West Virginia offers its take as well. Same with West Virginia Media.

Update III: Those joining the fray this morning also include the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

1 comment:

I Don't Like Spike said...

I think this youtube video sums it up nicely:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NT4eYCnSF8