I previously discussed Union Carbide’s Motion to Recuse Judge Bowen from hearing further proceedings in the Smith County asbestos drilling mud case that resulted in a $322 million verdict. In July, the Mississippi Supreme Court stayed proceedings in the case pending its decision on the recusal issue.
Here is the plaintiff’s response brief filed with the Supreme Court. The plaintiff’s main argument is that Union Carbide waived its recusal request by failing to timely assert the motion. Judge Bowen disclosed that his father was exposed to asbestos before the trial. The brief states:
Union Carbide was given these facts before trial. Despite the fact that Union Carbide and Conoco Phillips had six lawyers in Raleigh, along with a Research Squad laden with laptops, printers, and a comprehensive database which managed to track down detailed private data of several hundred venire members, they claim they were unable to determine anything about Judge Bowen’s parents until after trial. In light of the presence of the Research Squad, a half-dozen lawyers, and seemingly infinite resources to scour the data of Smith County residents, this argument is not credible.
The plaintiff also contends that no reasonable person would question Judge Bowen’s impartiality.
Here is Judge Bowen’s supplemental response in the Supreme Court. Judge Bowen states that he didn’t know that his father ever had an asbestos claim.
Six lawyers at trial? And a Research Squad? Outstanding. I envision the Research Squad entering the courthouse every day dressed in camo with laptops and printers strapped to their backs.
One time back in the day I was 5th chair at a trial. I watched the whole trial from the third row of the gallery. It was fun—in a way. I was billing hours and learning about trial practice with absolutely no pressure. I ate like a king and slept like a baby at night. It was bit like going back to NITA for a week, except I didn’t have to do anything and the trial was for real. I’m the type of lawyer who thinks that I should always be the one first chair at a trial, so I couldn’t have made a career out of 5th chair. But it was fun to do once.