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Jury Issued Allen Charge in Blankenship Trial

BlankenshipCourthouse.JPG
Ashton Marra
/
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Federal District Judge Irene Berger issued an Allen charge to jurors in the case of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship Tuesday morning.

 

In the charge, which is given to prevent a hung jury, the judge urged jurors to consider both the majority and minority opinions as they continue to deliberate. Berger also added an instruction that if jurors can reach an agreement on some of the charges, they may return a partial verdict.

The charge came after a note from jurors around 11 a.m. Tuesday saying they were “deadlocked” and wanted further instructions. The defense objected to giving the instructions.

Blankenship is charged with conspiring to violate federal mine safety standards and lying to investors and the federal Securities and Exchange Commission about Massey’s safety record following the 2010 Upper Big Branch mine disaster.

The explosion in Montcoal, W.Va., killed 29 miners and sparked an investigation into Massey Energy’s practices and later Blankenship himself.

Jurors began their deliberations November 17, but returned a note November 19 saying they could not come to an agreement.

At the time, Berger ordered jurors to continue deliberating, saying considering the amount of evidence they had heard during the seven-week trial, she did not feel they had given the case enough consideration.

The trial began Oct. 1 in Charleston federal district court.

In the weeks of testimony, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin’s office called 27 witnesses. The defense rested its case without calling a single witness.

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