Ashton Marra Published

Judge Denies Motion to Delay Blankenship Trial


A federal judge has denied a motion from former Massey CEO Don Blankenship to delay his trial slated to begin October 1.

Judge Irene Berger issued the order Thursday.

Blankenship’s attorneys filed the motion to reschedule last week after receiving more than 70,000 documents from U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin’s office. Blankenship’s attorneys said they needed more time to review the documents. 

Defense attorneys also filed a motion Thursday to transfer the trial to another district. According to court documents, Blankenship wants the trial transferred to either the Northern District of Maryland or the Northern District of West Virginia in Martinsburg. 

As in previous motions for a change of venue, Blankenship’s attorneys claim the current district has been saturated with publicity, creating a “high degree of prejudgment about Mr. Blankenship’s culpability.”

The defense submitted multiple exhibits with the motion that include television and newspaper clippings covering the trial’s anticipated start and what they call “examples of highly prejudicial social media.”

Blankenship is being charged with conspiracy to violate mine safety standards and lying to securities officials after the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster. 

The 2010 coal mine explosion killed 29 men.