30 June 2009

Massey Lawsuit vs. W.Va. Supreme Court Resumes

This month's U.S. Supreme Court ruling addressing judicial recusal has prompted a federal judge to reactivate a lawsuit on the topic filed against West Virginia's high court, The Associated Press reports.

Both cases also involve Massey Energy Co., which filed the pending lawsuit and found itself on the losing end of the June 8 decision.

The suit asks U.S. District Judge John T. Copenhaver Jr. "to declare as unconstitutional the state court's policy governing how judges may recuse themselves from hearing cases," the article said. "Lawyers for the Richmond, Va.-based company argue that the court's standard violates the right to due process guaranteed by the 14th Amendment."

Copenhaver has asked both sides to weigh in on how to proceed, and has extended the deadline for responding from Monday to Friday as requested by Massey.

The article notes that some of Massey's allies in the U.S. Supreme Court case defended West Virginia's recusal rule and argued against "second-guessing by the federal courts regarding such state-crafted policies."

Lawyers representing seven states, led by Alabama Attorney General Troy King, filed one "friend of the court" brief that said that "the States are uniquely well-situated to regulate recusal practice in their own courts and have been both vigorous and innovative in doing so," AP reported.

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