Judge lifts stay on Massey case against Supreme Court

By Justin Anderson | Jun 17, 2009

CHARLESTON – U.S. District Court Judge John T. Copenhaver on Tuesday put back on the active docket a case filed by Massey Energy targeting the West Virginia Supreme Court's recusal process.

The coal company filed an action for declaratory judgment and an injunction against the court's rule that permits justices to decide for themselves whether or not to step down from hearing a case.

Massey maintains the rule violates due process rights.

The action was stayed in November 2008 while the U.S. Supreme Court considered an appeal filed by coal operator Hugh Caperton targeting Massey and state Supreme Court Chief Justice Brent Benjamin.

Caperton had argued –- and the U.S. Supreme Court by majority agreed last week -– that Benjamin should not have voted in Massey's appeal of a $50 million verdict in Caperton's mining company's favor.

Caperton contended that Benjamin had impartiality issues in the case because Massey chief Don Blankenship spent about $3 million on a campaign targeting Benjamin's opponent in the 2004 election, former Justice Warren McGraw.

In his order lifting the stay, Copenhaver ordered both sides to file a joint case management report by June 29 laying out how the case can be brought to a conclusion.

U.S. District Court case number: 2:06-0614

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