Monday, January 28, 2008

Justice Is Blinded 2

I'm going to cheat today.

The article that caught my eye this morning is about a coal company. In my defense, I never do this -- in my other defense, this relates to a post earlier this week that was about oil -- and in my other other defense, coal and oil are inexorably linked, as the use of coal begins to rise based on the threat of oil supplies tightening...

Furthermore, it's about a court case -- and I don't think any discussion of a court case and an energy law stands alone against the backdrop of the Supreme Court, which this spring is slated to hear the damages case against Exxon Mobil for the Valdez crash.

“In West Virginia, there is a proverb that says that everything is political except politics, and that is personal,” said Conni Gratop Lewis, a retired lobbyist. -- The New York Times.

The story comes out of West Virginia, and has to do with a case that was thrown out in November -- a $50 million dollar fraud case against Massey Energy Corp. That judgment was declared on a 3-2 vote. The case is being reopened after photos surfaced of the chief justice and the CEO playing golf.

On Thursday, several plaintiffs in the case — mining companies that say they were driven out of business by Massey — filed a separate motion seeking the disqualification of a second judge in the original majority, Justice Brent D. Benjamin. Justice Benjamin was elected to the court in 2004 with the help of more than $3 million in advertisements and other support from Don L. Blankenship, Massey’s chief executive and Chief Justice Maynard’s dining companion in Monte Carlo.

The judges don't think there's a problem. They say they remain impartial -- and that the scrutiny is unwarranted. Two weeks ago, Massey settled another suit:

CHARLESTON, W.Va., Jan. 17 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Massey Energy Company (NYSE: MEE) today announced that it has settled a Clean Water Act lawsuit filed in May 2007 on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The $20 million settlement avoids expensive litigation, resolves questions about the company's potential liability and enhances Massey's environmental protection efforts.

I said in the older post that the judgments in these cases were so high, they dwarfed the price of elections... it worse than that -- the profits of these energy companies dwarf the expenditure of governments. Massey alone holds $3 billion in assets -- with sales in the neighborhood of $200 million. Exxon Mobil made 39.5 billion in profits in 2006 -- and that was before the increases in oil prices last year. Annual numbers should post soon for 2007...

It makes me really dizzy. It's one thing not to think of our politicians as justice oriented, but to think of how political our judges are -- it's a level of undermining the authority in this country I simply don't know how to reconcile.

Justice. A justice. Language again -- just the title "justice" trains us from the beginning of our education to expect good from them.

I am thinking this morning -- what if everyone walked around as the personification of their job -- that which they are charged to impart. We could call a teacher "a knowledge," a doctor could be, rather than a healer, "a healing." A poet would have to be called " a truth." Geez I'm glad that's not my title. We argue about the nature of truth all the time...

What can we really expect of each other? What can we really expect from them?

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