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Second Cinergy trial starts in Indy

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A second clean-air violation trial is underway in Indianapolis about whether coal-fired power plant modifications triggered a need for new pollution-control equipment at facilities in Indiana and Ohio.

Expected to last six to 10 days, this trial in the decade-old case began Monday in U.S. District Judge Larry McKinney's courtroom in the Southern District of Indiana. A total of 84 prospective jurors were vetted before 10 were seated for the trial. Each side's attorney made an hour-long opening argument before jurors were dismissed for the day.

U.S., et al. v. Cinergy Corp., et al., No. 1:99-cv-1693, includes the states of Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York as plaintiffs, as well as the Hoosier and Ohio Environmental councils. Dozens of attorneys are listed on the case, including local counsel from Taft Stettinius & Hollister in Indianapolis: Scott R. Alexander, Jayna Morse Cacioppo, Robert R. Clark, and John D. Pappageorge.

The suit dates to 1999, when the Environmental Protection Agency under the Clinton administration alleged that energy company Cinergy - bought by Duke Energy in 2006 - substantially upgraded six power plants in Indiana and Ohio without installing required modern pollution controls as required by law. The government alleged that Cinergy's work exceeded ordinary maintenance or repairs and required a permit at each plant, but the company disagreed.

In what was dubbed the nation's first case to go before a jury on this issue, the first two-week trial in May 2008 in Judge McKinney's courtroom resulted in jurors finding that Cinergy had violated the U.S. Clean Air Act at its Wabash plant in Terre Haute. But they cleared the company regarding modifications made at four other plants in Indiana and Ohio. On balance, it was a victory for Duke.

But after that verdict, attorneys discovered a previously undisclosed piece of discovery that raised questions about the verdict and resulted in Judge McKinney ordering a new liability trial.

Most of the previous orders and rules in place apply to this second trial, and both sides are focusing on testimony from experts and engineers about the power plant projects and what affect they see that having on overall emissions. The case boils down to how the company analyzed possible pollution effects prior to starting construction in the 1990s.

During opening statements, attorneys used color photos of the power plants and charts with emission information to describe what is being debated in this case. U.S. Department of Justice attorney Phillip Brooks said evidence would prove that in repairing faulty components in major energy-generating units that could have shut down completely or at a lower level, Cinergy increased emissions by more than a standard 40 tons as a result of improvements done at the plant and that required a permit and pollution controls.


"There's nothing wrong with fixing these things, but there are rules in doing that," he said. "That's what is at issue here: whether the company followed the rules."

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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