New Trial Granted For Former BP Engineer

Jun 13, 2014

Archive photo of the Hale Boggs Federal Courthouse in New Orleans.
Credit U.S. General Services Administration

A federal judge in New Orleans is ordering a new trial for a former BP engineer convicted of deleting text messages related to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

It stems from comments the jury forewoman overheard in a courthouse elevator.

BP engineer Kurt Mix was convicted in December of deleting messages he exchanged with his supervisor. Prosecutors allege he was trying to obstruct a grand jury investigation. Defense attorneys interviewed jurors after the verdict.

They say they discovered the forewoman had told the others during deliberations about the comment that made it easier to vote for conviction. Court records aren’t specific about what was overheard. Mix was told by BP to keep all records for investigators, but jurors found him guilty of obstruction of justice.

Mix had access to internal information about how much oil was gushing from the blown-out well. And he said in a text that it was three times worse than BP’s public estimate.