I just came out of Courtroom 9 in the Cumberland County Courthouse where Judge Humphries heard our Motion to allow additional evidence into the Plum Creek record on appeal. We are asking the Judge to allow us to put into the record the information that came out in the media after the hearings showing that Plum Creek had made payments to at least 5 of the purportedly independent interveners.
Russ Pierce from the law firm of Norman Hanson and DeTroy represented us very well at the hearing. He pointed out that the fact that Plum Creek paid all these parties harms their witnesses’ credibility and LURC should have known about that at the hearing. Restore and FEN’s lawyer also argued that the LURC staff acted as advocates, not just as advisors to the Commission, and asked the Judge to allow that evidence into the record also.
The Judge asked lots of questions. He clearly had read our briefs. The Assistant Attorney General represented LURC. Plum Creek’s lawyer also spoke. There was a phalanx (seven more, to be exact) of other lawyers there including those for Piscataquis County Economic Development Council, The Nature Conservancy, and Forest Society of Maine. At one point, the Judge asked out loud whether it was important for him to know who had paid for all the lawyers in court today! The number of lawyers clearly made an impression on him.
The Judge did not decide the Motion today, nor did he tip his hand. He said he would likely rule within the next week or so. We’ll have to wait until then for the decision.
—by Cathy Johnson, NRCM Forests & Wildlife Director and Senior Staff Attorney