By John Maginnis
The stakes may be monumental in the BP trial underway, but the legal bout lacks the essential elements of a courtroom drama. Guilt has been determined in the oil giant’s criminal plea agreement with the U.S. Justice Department, which also establishes that BP was negligent. The big question for the trial to settle is how negligent, for a ruling of gross negligence and willful misconduct could quadruple the fines for each barrel of oil that flowed into the Gulf, pushing the award to five coastal states, primarily Louisiana, to over $20 billion. According to the Wall Street Journal, Justice and the states are prepared to offer to settle for $16 billion.