In anticipation of an imminent conviction, which he can then appeal to the Second Circuit, environmental attorney Steven Donziger said on Monday: “There is simply no need to further legitimize this Chevron-funded process.”
Environmental attorney Steven Donziger is standing in federal court in New York with supporters and defense attorney Ron Kuby on Monday after an unusual trial in prosecuting an Ecuadorian court ruling against Chevron was closed. (Josh Russell Photo / Courthouse News)
MANHATTAN (CN) – The unusual banking lawsuit against an attorney who battled Chevron over rainforest pollution quickly ended Monday morning after the disfellowshipped attorney’s defense paused without calling any witnesses.
Although Steven Donziger waived his right to testify on his own behalf, his attorney Ron Kuby asked the judge three times to give Donziger a brief statement that would not be an affidavit.
Senior US District Judge Loretta Preska has repeatedly dropped the request. “You either take the stand or you sit down,” she said. “This is not a press conference. You either testify or you don’t. “
Donziger face up to six months in prison for six offenses for contempt of the court, which were drafted not by prosecutors but by US District Judge Lewis Kaplan from the representation of indigenous Ecuadorians who live in the oil-polluted Amazon rainforest. After Kaplan ruled Donziger used fraud to win a $ 9.8 billion judgment against Chevron in Ecuador, he accused Donziger of violating his court orders.
Kaplan hired the private law firm Seward & Kissel to lead Donziger’s prosecution after the U.S. Attorney’s Office refused, and sent the case to his colleague Judge Preska to initiate a banking proceeding that began last week. Although Seward & Kissel did not represent Chevron until 2018, Donziger was unable to end the process with his conflict of interest claims.
Kuby also brought unsuccessful bias charges against President Preska, who did not provide a timetable for her verdict this morning as she closed the trial less than an hour after his fifth day. “Every effort will do this as soon as possible,” she affirmed.
Instead of summing up arguments, the judge appointed by George HW Bush set a period of two weeks within which both parties could submit factual findings and legal conclusions.
Donziger stated his decision to drop his case this afternoon in a statement: “There is simply no need to further legitimize this Chevron-funded process.”
“I am confident that we have more than achieved our two main goals: Firstly, we have set a solid record for the appointment before the second circuit,” wrote Donziger. “And second, we effectively highlighted the structural and procedural injustice of the country’s first corporate prosecution to criminalize human rights lawyers.”
Supporters of environmental lawyer Steven Donziger gathered in New York federal court on Monday with signs and kangaroo masks where Donziger was tried in an unusual trial for prosecuting an Ecuadorian court ruling against Chevron. (Josh Russell Photo / Courthouse News)
In Manhattan federal court on Monday morning, Attorney Kuby told a crowd of supporters and the press that it was the defense’s “hope and expectation” that Donziger would testify, but the judge’s signals indicated restrictions on what they would have allowed him to do to speak up.
“We spent a lot of time preparing for Steven to testify in court,” said Kuby. “But we were also paying attention to what the court found relevant, and nothing Steven had to say would be considered relevant by that court.
“His efforts in good faith to follow instructions: does not matter! The Second Circuit’s decision that their beliefs were completely reasonable: irrelevant, ”said Kuby. “His attempt to act as a lawyer and fight a case from his kitchen table when he had no legal representation and faced lawyers billed more than $ 3 million: irrelevant.
“Given that the judge has so limited the case to what the judge believes are the only problems, he just has nothing to say in this courtroom, and it’s unfortunate, but this courtroom is not the last word.”
Kuby noted that Donziger’s 650-day sentence would not be considered “the equivalent of prison”.
“You can spend a thousand days in detention and have never spent a day in prison. Welcome to the largest legal system in the world, ”proclaimed the famous civil rights attorney.
Donziger predicted Judge Preska would convict him even before the banking process began last week, and said Monday he believed he had a “really strong appeal” for the second circuit of the expected inevitable conviction.
“The constant limitation of my ability to defend myself … was noticeable throughout the process,” said Donziger. “And from our point of view that creates the conditions for a very strong attraction.”
Donziger’s predictions do not end in judgment. “I think their intention is to sentence me to prison so that I can serve six months. Until then, the appeal will be disputed,” said the lawyer on Monday. “When that happens, I don’t know what we’re going to do. At this point it might just be over, and we’re moving on. “
Some Donziger supporters who gathered outside the courthouse put on plastic kangaroo masks and denounced the private prosecution and trial as a kangaroo court.
The Donziger banking process ended the same day the US Supreme Court ruled 7-1 in favor of oil companies BP, Chevron and Exxon Mobil, which are trying to transfer climate change litigation against them, led by the city of Baltimore. Where the case will land is still uncertain, but the Supreme Court said the Fourth Circle must reconsider the decision that denied federal jurisdiction.
(Josh Russell Photo / Courthouse News)