by Doug Smith
U.S. District Judge William R. Wilson Jr. let his exasperation show in an order Monday in which he recused from the case challenging SWEPCO's construction of a new coal-fired power plant in south Arkansas. Wilson, an Eastern District judge, had accepted the Western District case after all the Western District judges recused. He then granted the plaintiffs, the Sierra Club and the Hempstead County Hunting Club, a preliminary injunction stopping certain work on the plant. SWEPCO appealed to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals at St. Louis and the court threw out the preliminary injunction without elaboration.
In his order Monday, Wilson wrote, "I realize full well that my order was not a slam dunk, but I was surprised to see the preliminary injunction eliminated by a one-sentence order. ... The projects that were stopped by the now-dissolved preliminary injunction will apparently be completed well before the Eighth Circuit considers the case on the merits. In other words, the harm I foresee will have been done, irrevocably. Having been given no guidance by the Eighth Circuit as to where I went wrong, I believe my time would be better spent working on other cases that need attention. To the Circuit Court, with respect to this case, I say, 'Let's say goodbye like we said hello in a friendly kind of way.' I RECUSE."
PS — This may be the first federal court decision to footnote "The Legend of Boggy Creek."