The Champion

March 2009 , Page 7 

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'Mining' Our Own Business (Inside NACDL)

By Norman L. Reimer

Read more Inside NACDL columns.

Why in the world should NACDL care about a fight over mining rights between two coal companies in Virginia? What possible interest can the organized criminal defense bar have in a civil case that has nothing to do with Fourth, Fifth, or Sixth Amendment rights? The answer is simple. The outcome of this fight over an Appalachian mine, which was argued in the U.S. Supreme Court on March 3, 2009, may have a profound impact on the quality of justice in every criminal case in the 39 states where judges are elected.

In Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co., No. 08-22,1 the Supreme Court will decide whether the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause requires judicial recusal where a judicial candidate accepts millions in campaign funds from a party and then, after successfully winning the judgeship, decides a case involving that party. On January 5, 2009, under the leadership of a team of brilliant lawyers including Pamela Harris, co-chair of NACDL’s Amicus Committee, Stephanie G. Wheeler, Maia S. Fish

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