Something is very wrong in the Land of Cotton



Dr. Robert Bullard
Environmental Justice Movement Founder

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Balch and Bingham Say "No" to AG Troy King but 'Yes" to Governor Bob Riley in Alabama BP Suit

This is getting more ridiculous by the second. And very suspicious in its motives.

Balch and Bingham cited a conflict of interest when they were approached by Alabama AG Troy King to represent the state of Alabama against BP and Transocean and "bowed out" despite a firm partner, Steve McKinney, stating in the press that they had no COI;
Steve McKinney, a partner in Balch Bingham, said "it's every client's prerogative to choose their lawyer and we have no problem with the attorney general going in a different direction."
But he said he did not believe the firm had any conflict in representing the state in the lawsuit. He said the firm's Mississippi office did at one time represent Transocean, "but that was quite a while ago and it was in no way related to the oil spill."
King would not say which other firms he talked with after this but we hear through the grapevine that it may have been Maynard Cooper, Jere Beasley and Josh Hayes who were at the top of the list to be King's litigation team. Beasley would have been a great pick because of his bulldog tactics in going after big business.

Governor Riled Up came out bellowing that AG King was "acting prematurely" and his filing of a lawsuit against BP and TO would only result in the lawyers getting millions of dollars and would not serve "the best interests of Alabamians." He refused to support his own AG in filing the suit. These two boys do not play well together anyway, but King showed some real moxie by filing the suit before the 90 day deadline under Admiralty Law and Riley was left looking like the spoiled mean boy that he is.

WSFA TV 12 reports at 5:24 CST on September 3, 2010 that now Balch & Bingham have been hired by Governor Riley;
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - The tense relationship between Alabama's governor and attorney general has taken another stinging twist.

Attorney General Troy King has accused Gov. Bob Riley of trying to compromise litigation against BP over the Gulf oil spill. Riley, meanwhile, has hired a law firm to deal with the BP issue and claims the price is much cheaper than King had planned.

King wrote Riley a letter Friday, saying the initial claim of $148 million that the governor filed with BP is "grossly inadequate." He also accused Riley of holding secret meetings with BP officials.

Riley announced he has hired the Balch & Bingham law firm to advise the state on the oil spill, at $195 per hour. King had approached the firm about representing the state on a contingency basis of up to 14% of the money recovered, but Riley refused to go along.
Riley is partially right about one thing, nothing he does serves "the best interests of Alabamians." B&B looks equally as ridiculous saying one thing, doing another and playing both sides against the middle which is a technique they have managed to well hone over the years. (the Waste Management Emelle and ExxonMobil vs. Alabama cases come to mind.)

We kind of thought that first round of "no we can't" and "yes we could" was based in B&B holding out for a whale, as in BP,  since that's usually the side of the argument they are on historically, but instead of a whale they held out for a know-it-all, arrogant Big Mule.

Or did they? Is the BP case going to be history repeating itself for Alabama?

If this case goes the way of the ExxonMobil case in which the state of Alabama lost BIG no one should be surprised. The fact the Riley or King would even consider hiring this firm, based on their history in the Exxon case suggests "Something Wicked This Way Comes."
High Court Nulifies Exxon Verdict;
A Montgomery jury in 2003 returned a verdict of $102.8 million in actual damages and fined the company $1 1.8 billion in punitive damages, an amount later reduced by the trial judge to $3.5 billion. In its decision last week the court allowed only $51.9 million in actual damages to stand. The justices had also nullified an earlier jury verdict of $3.5 billion in 1999, sending it back for a new trial on a technicality.
ExxonMobil's third quarter profit for 2007 totaled $9.41 billion. The company's Alabama lawyer, David Boyd, said that the verdict "affirms what we have said along.. . that this was never a fraud case."
More on this from the Jere Beasley Report; 
Exxon’s local lawyers are David Boyd and Joe McCorkle of Montgomery’s Balch&Bingham firm. The law firms for the state are Cunningham-Bounds firm of Mobile and Montgomery lawyer Jere Beasley’s firm, which was added this year by Governor Bob Riley. Exxon did a risk analysis and concluded that if they underpaid the royalties and did get caught, all they would have to do would be give the money back with interest. “In short, the corporate lawyers at Exxon took us for a bunch of inexperienced hayseeds.” One Exxon document went so far as to call state regulators “inexperienced.”

 If King's claims are accurate and Riley is holding "secret meetings with BP officials" that raises suspicions of collusion of the worst order, but when coupled with Riley hiring the same firm that has worked vigorously against Alabama's interests in a previous high stakes fight with Big Oil, in our opinion, it borders on criminality.

Why didn't Riley hire Beasley and Cunningham Bounds to represent the state against BP? He hired them for the appeal of the Exxon verdict and the 14% recovery fee wasn't an issue then for Riley then as it seems to be now in the BP case;
Riley, however, has decided to have his own attorney in the Exxon case and has lined up Beasley, one of Alabama’s most successful plaintiff lawyers.
Riley’s legal adviser, Troy King, said the governor wanted a Montgomery attorney involved since the case will be retried in Montgomery. “The governor has significant confidence in Jere Beasley’s ability to try this case,” King said.
Former Gov. Don Siegelman’s administration originally hired the Mobile lawyers to handle the lawsuit on a contingency basis and promised them 14 percent of what they recovered for the state, plus expenses. King said bringing in Beasley will not cost the state anymore because Beasley’s firm and the Mobile firm will share the 14 percent, with the division to be worked out by the two firms if the state wins.
September 3, 2010 Office of the Governor Press Office;  “I will not approve an arrangement that pays lawyers 14 percent of the very large claims we have presented and expect to present on behalf of the state, especially when those claims are being paid without litigation of any kind,” said Governor Bob Riley.
What's so different now Governor? How do you think it looks to everyone watching that you are in a constant state of disunity with your own Attorney General? Grow up and act like a man not a spoiled child who isn't getting their way, sir--this isn't amusing anymore watching the two of you openly spat while Alabamians are hurting.

Beasley has been described as the "devil's incarnate" by big business which makes him the best candidate for the job in our opinion;
Montgomery attorney Jere Beasley, the standard bearer for trial lawyers and the devil incarnate for business interests, represented the state in part of its litigation against ExxonMobil. He maintained that the oil giant deserved punishment because it cheated Alabama out of royalty payments.
What's going on here? Not one bit of it makes any logical sense if  "doing the right thing and Alabama's best interests" are truly the driving force behind Riley's actions as he has claimed in the press. We say be afraid, be very afraid and maybe also royally pissed off.
**Update Sept. 17, 2010
Troy King has hired Jere Beasley to represent the state. Governor Riley has come out publicly in the press stating that Alabama's Education Trust Fund had to be slashed because of King "acting prematurely." Riley is not being truthful about the cuts, they were slated to happen anyway and he is using this as a way to score cheap political points. It is reprehensible he chooses to use Alabama's children in his vendetta against King.
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  1. What's going on here is exactly what it looks like very dirty and underhanded monkey business. Why the hell isn't the media covering this? I mean c'mon how much more obvious can crooked behavior be people?Duh.

  2. Riley and King need to roundly swtiched and sent to their rooms without supper unless it is Gulf shrimp.

  3. Barbara Olson -- best known as a Clinton-bashing "tv pundit," Olson has a day job heading the Washington lobbying office of Balch and Bingham, an Alabama law firm. Olson has lobbied previously for the Southern Company. She is also married to Solicitor General Ted Olson, who argued President Bush's election case to the Supreme Court. As Haley Barbour recently described the Olsons: "Each of them is a big asset to the Republican party and the conservative cause. Each of them fills a different niche."


    Here's another one from Atlanta this year where all the poison frogs met to discuss to develop brownfields. They make it sound so exciting don't they?

    "Ready, Set, Revitalize: New Energy for Brownfields!
    This is the theme of THE BIG DEAL: Atlanta 2010, the National Brownfield Associations’ flagship summit, on Tuesday and Wednesday, March 23 and 24 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Buckhead, Atlanta’s premier neighborhood.

    "The NBA is offering cutting-edge, thought-provoking presentations that will focus on the theme of energizing brownfield development"


  4. Excellent comment TRUTH.

    Someone is paying attention.

    Clicking on the "web cache" of the link goes to a lot of 404s and the fact that it is only listed through cache indicates someone pulled it at some point.

    Are we surprised at tactics like those?



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