Blankenship files promised US Supreme Court appeal

WASHINGTON (BY: KEN WARD JR, THE CHARLESTON GAZETTE-MAIL) – Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship on Thursday urged the U.S. Supreme Court to take up an appeal of his criminal mine safety conviction, arguing that two lower courts got the law wrong in the case and alleging again that he was railroaded by political enemies.

Attorneys for Blankenship filed their formal petition asking justices to review a 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that upheld Blankenship’s conviction in U.S. District Court for conspiring to violate federal mine safety standards at Massey’s Upper Big Branch Mine, where 29 miners died in an April 2010 explosion.

The petition argues that the 4th Circuit was wrong on two legal points: That U.S. District Judge Irene Berger incorrectly instructed the trial jury that Blankenship’s “reckless disregard” of federal mine safety and health standards amounted to the criminal willfulness needed for a conviction and that Berger was wrong to deny the defense the chance for a second cross-examination of former Massey official Chris Blanchard, a major government witness.

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