Laurence Leamer, the New York Times bestselling author, has published a new legal thriller based on a true story about how the chairman of a West Virginia coal company set out to destroy its corporate rival by trying to buy the justice system.
"The Price of Justice," tells how coal baron Don Blankenship, chairman of Massey Energy, drove rival Harman Mining into bankruptcy.
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When Harman sued and won a $50 million judgment in West Virginia Blankenship, according to the book, he spent $3 million to elect lawyer Brent Benjamin to the West Virginia Supreme Court in the hope he would overturn the ruling.
The ruling was indeed overturned, with Judge Benjamin voting with the majority in a 3-2 decision.
Harmon President Hugh Caperton took the case to the U.S. Supreme Court which ruled in a 5-4 verdict in 2009 that Benjamin's decision not to recuse himself was a violation of due process.
In an interview with Newsmax TV, Leamer said Blankenship, who has been described by Publisher’s Weekly as a “villain for the ages,” only cared about the company’s bottom line as he drove Caperton out of business and bought the West Virginia judiciary to support him.
He said the story highlights corruption at the highest levels of business, politics, and justice, and its wide-reaching repercussions for society.
Leamer told Newsmax TV, "Justice is the final resort for Americans. When you can go nowhere else you have to go to the court and seek and find true justice and in most cases Americans find that, but when it gets corrupted by money or by politics that ends and that’s an immense danger to American democracy and that’s what happened in West Virginia, it happened in the West Virginia Supreme Court particularly."
Never had anyone spent so much money in a judicial election, Leamer said.
During the interview, Leamer also reflected more widely on the subject of greed and corruption, as in the case of Bernie Madoff whose Ponzi scheme brought down some of the nation’s wealthiest families.
"These scams go on and on, this kind of scam because it plays on the greed of people. As long as there’s a human race, we’re going to have greed and people taking advantage of it," he said.
Leamer has written a total of 14 books, including "The Kennedy Women" and "Madness Under the Royal Palms." He’s also written about the Reagans, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and other political icons.
He said of Caroline Kennedy, who is tipped to be the next U.S. ambassador to Japan, "She’s far more qualified to be ambassador than to be the senator from New York. When she ran, for about two minutes, she really was uncomfortable with the press and doing interviews. But she would probably do a good job."
On whether Schwarzenegger could ever make a political comeback, Leamer said, "Arnold Schwarzenegger is finished. He’s finished in terms of films. He’s finished in terms of politics. He ended up immensely unpopular in politics and his recent films have bombed."
Leamer’s new book, subtitled "A True Story of Greed and Corruption," is published May 7.
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