It must be a bit lonely for the Independent to be pushing for an affirmation verdict from the Alabama Supreme Court in the notorious ExxonMobil case, when just about every major newspaper in Alabama has called the state’s case everything from ludicrous to ridiculous.
Let me point out two things in editor and publisher Bob Marhi’s recent column about the case that are wrong, wrong, wrong: The first is the charge that oil companies funneled millions of dollars into judicial elections here. In fact, I can find no evidence of any money from Exxon Mobil in the recent elections.
What I did find is about $2 million funneled through more than 20 Political Action Committees PAC’s) to Chief Justice Sue Cobb by trial lawyers, including infamous personal injury lawyer Jere Beasley. Beasley is important because a) he claims to be against PAC transfers and b) he is one of the attorneys on the case. Cobb is trial lawyer property, bought and paid for.
The other thing is the charge that Exxon didn’t think it was going to be caught. ExxonMobil actually initiated the lawsuit, asking the state to settle the long battle between the oil company and the state on how royalties should be computed, the very issue on which the fraud claim is based. Liberal judge Tracey McCooey allowed the case to be flipped so that plaintiff (Exxon) became defendant.
As to the findings of guilt by two juries, the explanation is obvious: People hate oil companies and love free money. But justice has to be equal in order to be justice. The rich have to be protected from unfair schemes just like the poor. And at the end of the day, this is just another trial lawyer scheme to collect big bucks from deep pockets.
And that is perhaps the cruelest joke and scheme of all. At worst, the oil giant owes the state somewhere from $60-150 million, if it owes at all. Now two of the wealthiest personal injury firms in Alabama are in for a share of whatever money the state gets. Money that should go to schools and roads are going to end up nestled right in trial lawyer wallets, right next to Sue Bell Cobb.