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May 08, 2009

The Justice Department Blows Another One (chad)

First Ted Stevens now this. That remedial disclosure training that Attorney General Eric Holder ordered better begin soon.

A federal court jury on Friday acquitted the big chemical products company W. R. Grace and three of its former executives on all charges that they had knowingly contaminated the small Montana mining town of Libby with asbestos, then conspired to cover up the deed.


Prosecutors tried to convince jurors that the memorandums revealed a cover-up and a conspiracy; the defense argued that they instead showed the internal workings of a company grappling in good will over how to make the mine safer.


Marshalling the evidence was not the only problem for prosecutors, though. In late April, Judge Molloy denounced the star prosecution witness, Robert H. Locke, in open court, and raised doubts in front of the jurors about the practices of the prosecutors.

Mr. Locke, a former Grace executive, testified that Grace executives knew that asbestos was sickening people and that they actively worked to hide that knowledge. But after his testimony, evidence turned over by the prosecution showed that Mr. Locke had grossly understated on the witness stand how often he had met with prosecutors.

Judge Molloy told the jurors that the government had committed an “inexcusable dereliction of duty” by not providing evidence of that relationship sooner. He ordered the panel not to consider Mr. Locke’s testimony in considering the fate of one defendant, Robert J. Bettacchi, and to use “great skepticism” in evaluating Mr. Locke’s testimony about the case as a whole.


Now I don't agree with the peosecution of W.R. Grace based on that facts as I under them, but damn for the amount of money we spend on the Justice Department is it too much to ask for them to hire competent attorneys?

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posted by xgenghisx at 09:01 PM

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