Tuesday, May 13, 2008
DOJ v People of Harris County
"A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that the rights of victims of the 2005 BP explosion in Texas City were violated by Houston federal prosecutors and a judge, but the plea bargain they object to remains on the table. ... The plea agreement must be accepted by a judge to be final and that has not yet happened. ... Judge Lee Rosenthal ... listened in a sometimes tearful February hearing where they complained the fine should be more like $1 billion, not $50 million. But Rosenthal refused to scrap the plea bargain, which is still awaiting her further consideration. ... Prosecutors have defended the plea bargain and noted that the $50 million fine was the harshest available under the Clean Air Act. 'We are ... disappointed by the appellate court's criticism of the government's good faith reliance upon a court's order approving our approach to meet our CRVA obligations,' U.S. Attorney Don DeGabrielle said in a prepared statement. ... The appellate court said it was improper for [Judge Nancy] Atlas to approve the U.S. attorney's request. Prosecutors argued that victims should not be consulted because they were numerous and a leak to the media could impair the plea negotiations and prejudice the case. ... The appellate court said the reasons to keep victims out did not 'pass muster,' and the victims had a right to be involved before a plea deal is reached. ... Victims' lawyer [David] Perry said ... 'What they wanted to do here was keep the fact that they were exploring a criminal case from the public and the victims. Under the victims' rights act, that should not be the case.' ... 'The dirty little secret is that prosecutors are happy to take advantage of victims when it serves their relatively parochial interest,' [Doug Berman, Ohio State University law professor] said. 'But they can also create a lot of headaches for prosecutors'," Mary Flood (MF) at the Houston Chronicle, 8 May 2008.
See my 6 January, 29 February and 19 March 2008 posts. I think Judge Rosenthal should be thrown off the bench. DeGabrielle, stop wasting time. Leave the DOJ for whatever job you've got lined up with whatever law firm you're going to. Do us a favor, leave. Now! Get out that crying towel for BP. $50 million? It's insignificant. I'll bet if E&Y had enough guts to respond to the question, I'm sure it would say $50 million is immaterial to BP's financial statements. DeGabrielle, I don't care about your personal convenience and future career prospects. Who are you kidding? With say a $1 billion fine, not levied, I'm positive you can find something attractive when you leave the DOJ. The DOJ looks more like an extortion racket every day.