By KEN WARD JR.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A U.S. Department of Justice review has found that government lawyers did not withhold from Don Blankenship any information that was material to the outcome of the trial where the former Massey Energy CEO was convicted of conspiring to violate mine safety and health standards at Massey’s Upper Big Branch Mine, where 29 miners died in a 2010 explosion.
The department’s review found “insufficient evidence” to prove that prosecutors committed violations of rules that required them to turn over to Blankenship’s defense lawyers any evidence that was material to his guilt or innocence. Department investigators did find “professional misconduct” by the prosecutors, saying that they did not comply with an internal DOJ policy regarding the process for determining what records should be provided to the defense, according to a summary of the agency’s conclusions.
The DOJ has not made public complete reports of the investigation by its Office of Professional Responsibility and an appeal report by the agency’s Professional Misconduct Review Unit. The investigation was prompted by a complaint filed by Blankenship against then-U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin and then-Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Ruby.
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