Mass. AG Appeals Exxon Ruling, Asks New Judge to Toss Oil Giant’s Case

Saying she does not believe a Texas judge has considered her arguments, Massachusetts AG Maura Healey files an appeal to halt her questioning by ExxonMobil lawyers.

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Massachusetts AG Maura Healey continues to fight Exxon's legal maneuvers
Massachusetts AG Maura Healey continues to fight Exxon's legal maneuvers in her climate fraud investigation. Credit: Getty Images

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UPDATE (December 12): The deposition of Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey by lawyers for ExxonMobil has been canceled. The Texas federal court judge who approved the deposition voided it without explanation Monday in a one-sentence order.  

Dec. 9—Without waiting for a ruling by a federal judge in Texas who has consistently sided with ExxonMobil, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has filed an appeal to block her deposition scheduled for Tuesday.

Healey explained in a motion filed Thursday with the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that a stay is warranted because the judge who issued the deposition order has refused to properly consider her arguments and has not ruled on her pending motion to stay her deposition.

That judge, U. S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade, had earlier sided with Exxon in its request to depose Healey. He said he suspected the attorney general’s climate fraud investigation of the company may be biased.

“That action is completely without precedent, turns basic law enforcement practice on its head, and constitutes a clear abuse of discretion,” according to Healey’s motion.

A spokesman for Exxon did not respond to a request for comment.

Healey has asked the appeals to court to make a ruling by Monday.

Exxon had gone to court in June seeking an injunction to halt Healey’s investigation and asked that a judge rule the investigation was without legal merit.

Healey’s office had issued a civil investigative demand—similar to a subpoena—for Exxon records going back 40 years as part of her investigation of whether the company committed consumer or securities fraud by misrepresenting its knowledge of climate change.

At the same time Healey appealed the deposition order, she also filed an appeal to toss out Exxon’s entire case that seeks to block her investigation.

A key component to Exxon’s case rests on its assertion that Healey cannot conduct an impartial investigation.  

“Requiring the Attorney General to explain her investigatory rationale at this stage would make a shambles of the investigation and stifle her gathering of facts,” according to the motion to dismiss the case.

“The only likely outcome of the discovery that the court has ordered is an improper and vexatious investigation into privileged or protected information.”

Exxon also has filed a lawsuit in Texas to block an investigation by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, saying his investigation is politically motivated.

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