Thursday, March 05, 2015

Appeals court nixes secrecy order in criminal case against Appalachian coal operator Don Blankenship

Blankenship in 2010 (Associated Press)
A federal appeals court has overturned a gag order in the case of controversial Appalachian coal operator Don Blankenship of now-defunct Massey Energy. District Judge Irene Berger's order "had sealed from public view most of the filings in the criminal case," Ken Ward Jr. notes for The Charleston Gazette, which was among several news-media organizations that appealed it.

The order of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals was unsigned, indicating that Judges Roger Gregory, James Wynn, and Andre Davis concurred. "Berger had entered the gag order -- without any request for such an order from either Blankenship or U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin -- the day after an indictment was issued charging Blankenship with mine safety and securities crimes related to Massey’s Upper Big Branch Mine, where 29 miners died in an April 2010 explosion," Ward writes. "It was not immediately clear when court filings in the case would be unsealed."

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