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Judge excoriates prosecutors in Montana W.R. Grace asbestos trial

Federal District Court Judge Donald W. Molloy dismissed all charges against one of five former W.R. Grace executives facing criminal prosecution allegedly covering up the health effects of asbestos from a vermiculite mine in Libby, Montana. Molloy also tore into prosecutors for their handling of the case at a hearing in Missoula Monday.

Prosecutors responded weakly, or mildly, or lamely. From The New York Times, "Judge in Asbestos Case Angrily Lectures Prosecutors":

Judge Molloy responded with strong statements about their judgment, ethics and tactics. He wondered aloud about his options, from declaring a mistrial to throwing out the testimony of the star witness, Robert H. Locke, a former Grace executive who testified that the executives had known of the dangers and were actively involved in covering them up.

Judge Molloy said that he believed almost nothing Mr. Locke had told the jury, and that he also doubted the good faith of the prosecutors, whose members sat stone-faced before him.

When you're ratcheting up civil matters into criminal prosecutions, you should probably make sure to be extra conscientious.


UPDATE (3:35 p.m.): The judge rejects defense motion for dismissal and allows trial of other four defendants to continue. AP story.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.