26 June 2008

AP Lawsuit Yields Evidence of Massey-Maynard E-Mails

The state Supreme Court's administrator told a Kanawha Circuit judge Wednesday of the existence of a "couple dozen e-mails between West Virginia Chief Justice Elliott "Spike" Maynard and representatives of coal giant Massey Energy Co.," The Associated Press reports.

"The documents were retrieved in January, then sealed after court officials decided to withhold records requested by The Associated Press under the state's Freedom of Information Act," the article said.

Administrator Steve Canterbury testified before Judge Duke Bloom that he "couldn't cite a specific exemption to the state's FOIA law that allows the court to withhold the records," AP reported. "Rather, Canterbury said he's relying on the constitutional separation of powers and the philosophy that the communications of judges should remain private."

Bloom has given the Supreme Court "10 days to turn over the sealed documents and any communications with Massey by Maynard's staff," AP reported. "The court also must submit a log indicating generally what the e-mails contain."

The article explains that "the information was sought as part of the AP's coverage of Maynard's July 2006 vacation rendezvous with (Massey CEO Don) Blankenship in Monaco and southern France. The coal company had several cases pending or headed toward West Virginia's sole appeals court at the time."

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