W. Va. Governor Reportedly Got DuPont’s Help Before Filing Amicus Brief
Posted Aug 13, 2008 9:15 AM CST
By Debra Cassens Weiss
DuPont lawyers accommodated a request by West Virginia’s governor by supplying two draft briefs that he could use for the state’s amicus brief urging the state supreme court to hear a case involving the company, the New York Times reports.
The brief urges the supreme court to hear an appeal seeking to overturn a $382 million judgment against the company in a toxic dumping case. The judgment also requires DuPont to monitor the health of 8,000 residents who lived in the polluted area.
DuPont spokesman Daniel Turner told the Times that Gov. Joe Manchin III had sought a draft brief. But Manchin’s lawyer, Carte Goodwin, claimed the draft briefs were unsolicited and said the government brief does not take a position on the underlying merits of the case.
The Times obtained documents and meeting records under the Freedom of Information Act that confirm contacts between the governor and DuPont officials.
Legal ethics professor Stephen Gillers told the Times that it is unusual and inappropriate for a governor, rather than a state attorney general, to get involved in such a case. “It is not part of the court’s responsibility to consider the effect of the verdict on the economic climate,” Gillers said.