Don Blankenship

Blankenship
wikimedia Commons / user: Brianhayden1980

  Attorneys for Don Blankenship say prosecutors have given them more than 4 million pages of documents without identifying information that the government plans to rely on at the former Massey CEO's trial.

In a motion filed Tuesday, the attorneys say they won't have time to review all the documents to find this information before the trial, which is scheduled for July. Their motion asks U.S. District Judge Irene Berger to order prosecutors to identify all documents that they intend to use.

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  A federal judge won't decide whether to move former coal baron Don Blankenship's criminal trial until after potential jurors are questioned in Beckley, West Virginia.

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The start of ex-coal baron Don Blankenship's criminal trial has been bumped back to July.

In Beckley federal court Thursday, U.S. District Judge Irene Berger moved the ex-Massey Energy CEO's April 20 trial date to July 13.

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  Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship doesn't want public disclosure of court filings arguing that his criminal case should be moved from southern West Virginia.

In a filing Thursday in Beckley federal court, Blankenship's attorneys say releasing the documents would likely exacerbate pretrial bias against him.

Brianhayden1980 / wikimedia Commons

Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship has pleaded not guilty to federal charges in a mine safety case.

Blankenship entered his plea on Tuesday at an arraignment hearing in U.S. District Court in Beckley. The hearing was based on a new, superseding indictment handed up earlier this month.

Six weeks before a landmark mine disaster trial, federal prosecutors in West Virginia have added a new allegation to the criminal conspiracy charges lodged against former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship.

Brianhayden1980 / wikimedia Commons

A lawyer for five media organizations has urged a federal appeals court to toss out a gag order in former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship's criminal case.

Blankenship was CEO when the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia exploded in 2010, killing 29 men. He's charged with conspiring to violate safety and health standards.

The Friends of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, NPR, The Associated Press and other news outlets are appealing U.S. District Judge Irene Berger's gag order in the case. 

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Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship's lawyers say a gag order in his criminal case would be unnecessary if his trial is moved.

They say in a legal brief that polling shows about half of the community in the U.S. District Court's Beckley Division believes Blankenship is guilty.

Brianhayden1980 / wikimedia Commons

News outlets are appealing a judge's ruling over a gag order in ex-Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship's criminal case.

Blankenship was CEO when the Upper Big Branch Mine in southern West Virginia exploded, killing 29 men in 2010.

The Associated Press,NPR and other outlets appealed the ruling Friday in the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Among those outlets are National Public Radio and Friends of West Virginia Public Broadcasting. It asks the court to make court documents public.

West Virginia University

In his first year back as president of West Virginia University, Gordon Gee faced shrinking state funding and a high-profile student death on campus. He spoke recently with us about those challenges, and about his time serving on the board of directors for coal company Massey Energy.

Gee served as chairman of the Safety, Environmental and Public Policy Committee of Massey Energy's board of directors before he resigned in 2009. Less than a year later, an explosion killed 29 men at Massey’s Upper Big Branch mine.

West Virginia Legislative Services

Coal mine safety was on the minds of Democrats in the house Tuesday; that issue was House Bill 2011, dealing with deliberate intent.  The measure doesn’t address mine safety standards, but those opposed to the bill said it will hurt miners.

Mine Safety and Health Administration

Families of the 29 West Virginia coal miners killed in a 2010 explosion are asking a federal judge to lift a gag order in the criminal case against the mining company's former chief executive.

The Charleston Gazette reports that lawyers for the estates of 14 of the victims filed the motion Thursday. The families want the gag order lifted so they can testify freely to West Virginia lawmakers about bills that would narrow the rights of workers to sue employers over workplace injuries and deaths.

Brianhayden1980 / wikimedia Commons

A judge is upholding most of a gag order in a criminal case against ex-Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, who was in charge of the Upper Big Branch mine when it exploded and killed 29 men.

U.S. District Judge Irene Berger wrote Wednesday that she needs much of the gag order to keep prospective jurors unbiased.

Sketch artist Jesse Corlis

A federal judge is delaying a trial until April for a former West Virginia coal baron facing criminal charges.

In U.S. District Court in Beckley, a docket entry Monday says Judge Irene Berger rescheduled ex-Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship's trial until April 20. It was slated to begin Jan. 26.

Federal regulators issued 199 citations during impact inspections of U.S. mines in November.

The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration conducted the inspections at 10 coal mines and six metal and nonmetal mines.

Brianhayden1980 / wikimedia Commons

  A judge won't let a West Virginia ex-coal baron facing criminal charges head home for the holidays.

A docket entry on Monday shows U.S. District Judge Irene Berger in Beckley denied ex-Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship's motion to travel home for the holidays.

During his case, Blankenship's travel is restricted to southern West Virginia, Pike County, Kentucky, and Washington, D.C. Other travel needs judicial approval.

Brianhayden1980 / wikimedia Commons

The ACLU is supporting news organizations challenging a gag order in an ex-coal executive's criminal case.

Sketch artist Jesse Corlis

Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship appeared Wednesday in US Federal Court in Beckley.

Judge Irene Berger heard arguments in two hearings in relation to Blankenship’s criminal case.  

One involved a motion to lift the broad gag order while the other requested more time to prepare motions and for trial.

Several media outlets including Friends of West Virginia Public Broadcasting and NPR are challenging a gag order Judge Berger issued after former coal company CEO Don Blankenship was indicted on federal conspiracy charges.

Brianhayden1980 / wikimedia Commons

A former Massey Energy CEO wants his criminal case moved and Jan. 26 trial delayed one year.

U.S. District Judge Irene Berger heard requests Wednesday in Beckley in Don Blankenship's case.

Blankenship's attorney said he couldn't get a fair trial in southern West Virginia because of bad publicity.

Also Wednesday, Berger heard news organizations argue against a gag order, which they want dropped or modified.

The order restricts parties or victims from discussing the case with reporters or releasing court documents.

Brianhayden1980 / wikimedia Commons

The judge in Don Blankenship's case has scheduled a hearing after the former Massey CEO responded Thursday to a request by several news outlets to lift a gag order.  

U.S. District Judge Irene Berger issued the order Thursday evening scheduling a hearing on the motion to lift the gag order.

That motion was filed by the Friends of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, The Charleston Gazette, The Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal and National Public Radio Nov. 14.

Paul Corbitt Brown

W.Va. Poet: “Appalachian Blackface” Story of 2014 Election Cycle: Have you ever heard the term ‘Affrilachian?’ It’s one poet Crystal Good uses to describe herself, an African American who grew up and lives in Appalachia. Good is a native of St. Albans, in West Virginia’s chemical valley. Good’s newest poem, “Appalachian Blackface,” premiered this fall at the Summit on Race Matters in Appalachia held in Charleston.

Sketch artist Jesse Corlis

The Friends of West Virginia Public Broadcasting joined four other news outlets challenging a judge's gag order in a former West Virginia coal executive's criminal case. 

The motion was filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Beckley by The Associated Press, The Charleston Gazette, The Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio and the Friends of West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

Garbage to be Turned into Fuel in Berkeley County

Nov 21, 2014
West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On West Virginia Morning, Liz McCormick reports on “resource recovery,” a polite way to say how household garbage can be used for fuel.  And Jessica Lilly joins Beth Vorhees to describe the scene at the arraignment of former Massey Energy chief Don Blankenship Thursday in Beckley.

Sketch artist Jesse Corlis

Former Massey CEO Don Blankenship stood with three attorneys as he pleaded not guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court in Beckley. Blankenship was indicted on charges of conspiring to violate mine safety rules and then lying about it.  Blankenship appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge R. Clarke VanDervort.   

Families Can't Hide Their Emotions

Brianhayden1980 / wikimedia Commons

A federal Magistrate has denied former Massey CEO Don Blankenship’s request to delay arraignment proceedings.

According to court records, Magistrate Judge R. Clarke VanDervort denied Blankenship’s request to postpone his initial court appearance. VanDervort ordered Blankenship to appear in court, surrender his passport, prepare to meet and discuss his financial circumstances, and other actions to prepare for court proceedings.

The former Massey CEO  is set to be arraigned in federal court on Thursday. The former leader of what was once one of the largest coal producers in the country Massey Energy CEO, Don Blankenship was indicted by the United States Attorney’s Office on two mine safety charges, lying to the securities and exchange commission and securities fraud.

The decision to proceed this week with his arraignment comes days after the judge presiding over Blankenship’s criminal case issued a gag order for the parties involved.

WV Division of Culture and History

Once considered untouchable, former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship was indicted on four federal charges in connection with the Upper Big Branch Disaster that killed 29 men in 2010. It’s news that folks in the coalfields never thought would happen.

In this episode, we’ll hear a special investigative series of reports about outlaw coal mining companies that keep operating despite injuries, violations and millions in fines.

And a new lawsuit has just been filed on behalf of the 78 coal miners who died in the Farmington Mine Disaster. We’ll hear memories from Sarah Kasnoski, one of the widows who lost her husband on that fateful date, November 20, 1968. 

Investigating Outlaw Mines That Keep Operating Despite Delinquent Fines

A recent investigative report has uncovered that some coal companies are working the system to avoid paying fines. The report also finds a connection between skirted financial penalties and injured coal miners: mines with more delinquent fines also have higher rates of injured workers.

NPR and Mine Safety and Health News sifted through citations, and documents for more than a year to find the connection. NPR’s Howard Berkes says it was no easy task. Each delinquent fine has a different start date, so tracking the injuries associated with the delinquent fines was complicated. In this episode, we hear the first three of these reports. We also talk with Berkes about mine safety and the development of these investigations.

Gary Quarles lost his son in the Upper Big Branch disaster. Since then, he's looked for peace, understanding and justice.

Quarles wanted to see Don Blankenship held accountable for the conditions at the mine and the death of his son.

Blankenship's Reputation

Quarles worked for Massey Energy as buggy operator for nine years and he knows first hand what kind of operation Blankenship was running.

“Don Blankenship’s name was known throughout Massey," he said.

Brianhayden1980 / wikimedia Commons

Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship was indicted on four federal charges Thursday. The charges stem from a years-long investigation led by the FBI and the United States Department of Labor's Office of Inspector General into an April 5, 2010 explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine owned by Massey that killed 29 miners. 

As The Charleston Gazete's Ken Ward reports, former Massey Enegry CEO Don Blankenship was indicted Thursday on federal charges that he violated mine safety laws at the Upper Big Mine before an April 2010 explosion killed 29 miners. The indictident comes from a years-long investigation from U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin's office in West Virginia's Southern Distict.

Mine Safety and Health Administration

Friends and families of victims of a West Virginia mine explosion four years ago are meeting to remember their lost loved ones.
 
A gathering for those affected by the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster will take place Wednesday afternoon in front of the federal courthouse in Charleston. Saturday is the four-year anniversary of the explosion that killed 29 miners.

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