Fundraising for judicial elections has often raised eyebrows. However, where a large number of attorneys practicing before court make small contributions to a judge’s election campaign, there is little danger that the judge’s actions will be affected.
But now in West Virginia. Don L. Blankenship, chairman and CEO of Massey Energy Co. of Richmond, Va., contributed at least $3 million to a pair of committees that ran advertisements attacking Supreme Court Justice Warren McGraw in the November 2004 election. The beneficiary of those donations was Brent D. Benjamin, who defeated McGraw in the election. Now Justice Benjamin has declined to recuse himself from hearing the appeal of a $50 million judgment against the company owned by the guy who gave $3 million to pay for ads blasting his opponent.
How can a judge possibly be impartial in a case involving a $50 million judgment against a company owned by someone who gave $3 million to get him elected? If this is permitted, it will send a message to corporate interests all over America that justice is for sale, and that the idea of equal justice under the law for rich and not-so-rich alike is an outmoded fantasy. But I suppose that’s what some folks want.
The Shigley Law Firm represents plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic injury cases statewide in Georgia, and in other states subject to the multijurisdictional practice and pro hac vice rules in each state. Ken Shigley was designated as a “SuperLawyer” in Atlanta Magazine and one of the “Legal Elite” in Georgia Trend Magazine. He is a Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy, Chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Liability Institute and former chair of the Georgia Insurance Law Institute. He particularly focuses on cases arising from truck wrecks and accidents (tractor trailers truck wrecks, semi truck wrecks,18 wheeler truck wrecks, big rig truck wrecks, log truck wrecks, dump truck wrecks).