Judge: Ex-coal CEO Blankenship's conviction should be tossed

FILE – In this Aug. 29, 2018 file photo former coal executive Don Blankenship waits outside the West Virginia Capitol after the Capitol was evacuated due to a fire alarm in Charleston, W.Va. A federal magistrate judge has recommended tossing Blankenship’s misdemeanor conviction for conspiring to violate mine safety laws. U.S. Magistrate Judge Omar Aboulhson wrote Monday, Aug. 26, 2019 that Blankenship’s rights were violated under the Brady rule, which says suppression of evidence favorable to the accused violates due process. (AP Photo/John Raby, file)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A federal magistrate judge has recommended tossing former coal CEO Don Blankenship’s misdemeanor conviction for conspiring to violate mine safety laws.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Omar Aboulhson wrote Monday that Blankenship’s rights were violated under the Brady rule, which says suppression of evidence favorable to the accused violates due process.

He recommended that U.S. District Judge Irene Berger, who presided over Blankenship’s 2015 trial, throw out the conviction.

At issue were documents that Blankenship said were not disclosed to him and his attorneys during his trial’s discovery phase.

Blankenship is the former CEO of Massey Energy, which owned a mine where a 2010 explosion killed 29 workers. He spent a year in federal prison.

His conviction was upheld by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to consider a further appeal.

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