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Saturday, August 17, 2013

Ind. Courts - "Of course Mark Massa should have recused himself"

Dan Carpenter's Sunday Indianapolis Star column looks at Justice Massa's decision not to recuse himself in the Leucadia Coal Gasification (Rockport) case. It begins:

Then-Gov. Mitch Daniels may have paid no mind to the fact Mark Massa had been his chief counsel when he named him to the Indiana Supreme Court last year.

Justice Massa may draw a blank about his sponsor and his long friendship with Mark Lubbers when he weighs the fate of a $2.8 billion power plant project of which Lubbers is director.

It could happen.

What matters to Hoosiers concerned about our imperiled environment and about the bills an energy monopoly will send them is whether an impartial opinion can be rendered by a human being who, like every appointed judge, owes his job at least in part to politics.

In all three branches of Indiana government, of course, contemptuous familiarity is a fact of life, challenged in sporadic quixotic fashion by maverick elected officials and citizens groups such as those who petitioned for Massa’s recusal.

His rebuff was disingenuous, to put it charitably: that he looked over a lot of business for Daniels, a champion of the dubious coal gasification venture; that he and Lubbers, who recruited him into the Daniels coterie, don’t socialize all that much; that his recusal would cripple the court by allowing the plant’s enemies to win with just two votes (Like nobody has ever faced a four-justice Indiana Supreme Court?).

One wonders just how close a judge must be connected to a party before he can consider recusing himself. Many of us amateur observers would call this one a no-brainer. Yet, unlike a Massa vote against the Rockport power plant, it comes as no shock.

Th ILB has earlier posts on this aspect of the Rockport case:Oral arguments on the Rockport case are scheduled for Sept. 5.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 17, 2013 07:29 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions