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More Evidence of Massey Energy's Dirty Past

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Six years ago, the company's CEO was involved in a corporate political scandal so juicy it was turned into a Grisham novel.

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"Massey operates with impunity," Brett Emison tells Minyanville. "They go ahead and ignore regulations because when they're called into the courtroom and lose a case, they know they can buy their way out of it." (Emison was not involved in this case or any other case pertaining to Massey.)

Certainly, other mining companies like Peabody Energy (BTU), Arch Coal (ACI), Consol Energy (CNX), and Alpha Natural Resources (ANR) see their fair share of problems -- etracting coal from the earth is a tough business. But Massey seems to exist in a league of its own.

On June 8, 2009, in a 5-4 ruling, the United States Supreme Court found that Justice Benjamin's failure to recuse himself from the Harman case violated the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution, depriving Harman Coal's right to due process.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote, "Not every campaign contribution by a litigant or attorney creates a probability of bias that requires a judge's recusal, but this is an exceptional case."

"The really surprising thing here is that it was a 5-4 decision," Emison points out. "That means four Supreme Court justices said there's nothing wrong with buying a judge. Chief Justice Roberts basically said it really wasn't a big deal."

In an editorial, the New York Times agreed, writing that the idea that there were four dissenting opinions at all was "alarming" and noted that "Chief Justice Roberts is fond of likening a judge's role to that of a baseball umpire. It is hard to imagine that professional baseball or its fans would trust the fairness of an umpire who accepted $3 million from one of the teams."

What does Don Blankenship have to say about the Harman case?

Unless you have comprehensive health coverage, don't ask him. When an ABC News reporter tried to interview Blankenship about it in the parking lot of a Massey Energy office, Blankenship responded, "If you're going to start taking pictures of me, you're liable to get shot," before grabbing for the camera.

Calls to Massey Energy for comment were not returned.
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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