Roger Forman, representing Climate Ground Zero activists from five actions in the first half of 2009, will present his argument to the West Virginia Supreme Court as to why that court should hear our appeal. The hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m., Tuesday Oct. 12. The argument will be broadcast online here.
Climate Ground Zero activists are appealing Raleigh Co. Circuit Judge Robert Burnside, Jr.’s decision granting Massey Energy subsidiaries Alex Energy, Edwight Mining, Marfork Coal, Goals Coal and Independence Coal a temporary restraining order early last year, as well as the contempt findings that were based upon that restraining order. If the court grants our appeal, activists will be released from having to pay damages to Massey. The case is actually two separate lawsuits consolidated—Goals Coal and Alex Energy v. Goreman et al., and Alex Energy, Edwight Mining, Marfork and Independence v. Caskey, et al.
Massey lawyers filed the initiating restraining order after five activists chained themselves to Massey contractor equipment on Coal River Mountain in February 2009, which was quickly followed by three more direct interventions (2/16/09, 2/25/09, 3/5/09) on Massey’s Edwight mine just across the Coal River. The activists from those interventions, as well as a fourth in April that year were added to the restraining order.
In the April action, Caskey was found in contempt of court for violating the restraining order, along with the other four activists because they were with her—“acting in concert” with her as the restraining order calls it. Judge Burnside also ruled that the five owed Massey $500 for the infraction and that any further violation of the restraining order would carry a $1,000 debt to Massey.
Most recently, Roselle, Tom Smyth and Joe Hamsher locked themselves to chairs in Massey subsidiary Marfork Coal’s office last February (here and here). In contrast to Judge Burnside’s last contempt ruling Roselle received three contempt convictions, one for himself and one each for his companions, while Smyth and Hamsher did not.