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John Ghezzi
John Ghezzi
Contributor •

BP Caught Jury Tampering

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Election day is often a good time for Republicans and corporate America to reveal their true nature to the American public. While with one face Janus is paying enormous sums of money to bash the greedy and unethical trial lawyers in their campaign advertisements, the other face is caught committing a “stunt” that only a defense attorney could say was not jury tampering with a straight face.

Eva Rowe’s parents died in a March 2005 explosion at BP’s plant in Texas City, Texas. Ms. Rowe is suing BP for 1.2 billion dollars. Jury selection is scheduled to begin tomorrow morning in the case of Rowe v. BP in Galveston, Texas state court. Jury influencing began last week, however, for BP. On Halloween, after the pool of potential jury members had already been advised to report to court the following week, a BP manager at its Texas City plant sent out a mailer to 900 members of the Texas City Chamber of Commerce. The correspondence touted the actions that BP had performed over the 18 months since the deadly explosion to improve safety.

A BP spokesman defended the mailer and told the judge that it was sent in the normal course of business in response to increased media coverage and a recent CBS 60 Minutes episode and to keep community leaders advised of BP’s safety efforts. Calling the mailer “nonsense” and the act of sending it a “stunt”, Judge Susan Criss inserted a new first question in the 110 question questionnaire filled out by potential jury members inquiring whether any of them had recently received any email, mail, fliers or other communication from Ms. Rowe, BP, the attorneys or anyone else regarding the case. She says that she will compare the jury questionnaires with the list of those whom received the mailer and fine BP an undisclosed amount for each potential jury member that received it. If enough persons in the pool of jurors received the mailer such that the pool is poisoned and another panel must be summoned, Judge Criss intends to impose those costs on BP as well.

Whether or not Ms. Rowe wins her case in court, I certainly hope BP’s blatant attempt to taint the jury does not affect the outcome. It amuses me to no end to see Bush, Perry, the Republican Party and corporate America get a taste of their own medicine.