Deepwater Horizon - Pre-Trial Maneuvering

Following my blog post, Deepwater Horizon - The Civil Trial Phase, BP's General Counsel Rupert Bondy has chosen to give a 30-minute telephone interview to reporters from The Wall Street Journal ($), the New Orleans Times-Picayune and the Financial Times ($).

Quoting from Mark Schleifstein in the Times-Picayune, we see Mr. Bondy echoing my "the dog that did not bark" theme with this:

In related criminal settlements during the past two weeks, both BP and Transocean approved fact statements outlining that scenario, which would seem to place BP at risk of being found grossly negligent. Barbier has not yet ruled on a BP motion requesting that the information contained in the criminal settlements not be admissible in the civil trial.

The criminal settlements were approved by different federal judges, and neither included an admission of gross negligence. As part of its plea agreement with federal officials, Transocean also settled the civil Clean Water Act allegations, agreeing to pay $1 billion in fines and other fees, again without admitting gross negligence.

Halliburton, on the other hand, has not entered into any civil or criminal settlement with federal officials.

And with regard to the point repeatedly mentioned here at the American Thinker, there are still huge questions about the actual amount of oil that flowed from the well.

Still at issue is exactly how many barrels of oil were released into the water during the spill. The 4.9 million barrels used in most accounts, based on government estimates, includes 820,000 barrels that BP recovered directly. That oil was sold, and the money collected was donated to Gulf Coast charities.

But Bondy said the remaining 4.1 million barrel estimate is at least 20 percent too high. That would drop the range for maximum fines to between $3.3 billion and $14.1 billion.

Federal prosecutors, on the other hand, say their evidence shows that BP officials lied to the Coast Guard and Congressional investigators in claiming soon after the accident that only 5,000 barrels of oil a day were being released from the well, when internal documents indicated the company's own experts believed as many as 100,000 barrels a day were pouring from under the sea floor.

But Bondy contends maximum levies are rare in federal court, citing a number of other Clean Water Act cases where judges have agreed to award no more than a third of the maximum fines.

A key potential witness against the Federal government's National Incident Command, former BP completions engineer Kurt Mix, has been put under jeopardy due to his absurd indictment by the FBI, but the question is will he, like several other BP engineers including Brett Cocales and Mark Hafle, waive his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination and become a star witness?

Steven Chu and Marcia McNutt's freedom may depend on the answer to that question.

Is there anyone else out there who would like to see someone go to jail for the horribly messy shoreline caused by the government's bungling of its mission to "plug the damn hole"?