Judge, Recuse Thyself

Beware the taint of money. That was the message the Supreme Court sent to elected state court judges who hear cases involving their campaign supporters. On June 8 the court ruled on a case in which a $50 million fraud verdict against Massey Energy (MEE) had twice been thrown out by 3-2 decisions of the West Virginia Supreme Court. West Virginia Chief Justice Brent Benjamin, who voted with the majority each time, should have disqualified himself, the high court said, since Massey's CEO spent $3 million to help elect him. The issue of money in judicial campaigns has heated up as both businesses and plaintiffs' lawyers shovel dollars to favored candidates.

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