In an eagerly awaited decision, the Supreme Court of the United States today granted the petition for a writ of certiorari filed by Hugh Caperton and Harman Mining from the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia’s reversal of a $50 million verdict in their favor. Here is the Court’s order, which included decisions on cert petitions in several cases.
Harman and Caperton alleged that Supreme Court of Appeals Justice Brent Benjamin’s refusal to recuse himself from the case, in which A. T. Massey Coal Company was a defendant, deprived them of a fair and impartial tribunal.
In Justice Benjamin’s 2004 campaign, Massey chairman Don Blankenship played a pivotal role by personally spending $3 million on behalf of an organization that directly or indirectly benefited Justice Benjamin.
Here are Caperton and Harman’s petition for the writ, Massey’s response in opposition, and amicus briefs submitted on behalf of Caperton and Harman by the American Bar Association, Public Citizen, and the Washington Appellate Lawyers Association, all courtesy of plaintiffs’ counsel Bruce Stanley.
The appeal has focused attention on the issue of contributions in judicial elections. The New York Times published an editorial yesterday, entitled "Tainted Justice", in which in which it urged the Court to accept the petition and questioned why the Court had taken so long to make a decision. According to the Court’s docket, the petition had been considered on four prior occasions before today.
In the Sunday Gazette-Mail on November 9, Paul J. Nyden wrote about the Court’s ongoing consideration of the petition and discussed other media outlets that had urged the Court to accept the appeal.
Finally, here are some posts I’ve written about the case when Caperton hired former Solicitor General Ted Olson to prosecute the Supreme Court appeal, the Supreme Court of Appeals reversed Caperton’s verdict for a second time, and Justice Benjamin refused to recuse himself from the case.