Decide finds previous environmental lawyer who won billions in Chevron scenario guilty of contempt

A federal decide on Monday identified a previous law firm who secured a $9.5 billion judgment

A federal decide on Monday identified a previous law firm who secured a $9.5 billion judgment from Chevron guilty on six misdemeanor criminal contempt prices, the culmination of a legal situation that has drawn accusations of retaliation by the power giant.

Steven Donziger in 1993 sued Texaco on behalf of a coalition of Ecuadorean farmers and Indigenous people today who alleged its pursuits in the country led to environmental catastrophe. Following Chevron bought Texaco in 2001, the litigation was moved to Ecuador, where by a court docket ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in 2011.

The exact yr, Chevron countersued Donziger, accusing him of doctoring evidence in the circumstance and bribing a decide. Soon after Choose Lewis Kaplan dominated in favor of the organization, Donziger appealed, and incurred the contempt fees during the appeals procedure. He has been under house arrest in relation to the contempt fees for almost two yrs.

Immediately after federal prosecutors with the Southern District of New York declined to prosecute Donziger on the contempt prices, Kaplan took the atypical phase of appointing private attorneys to prosecute. Donziger was disbarred in New York in 2018.

In her ruling on Monday, District Decide Loretta Preska said the case was “wholly unconcerned” with Chevron’s guilt in the Ecuador case.

“The Court docket does not dilemma the sincerity of Mr. Donziger’s espousal of his clients’ cause,” she wrote. “Nor does it quarrel with the sincerity of his belief that he has been treated unfairly by Chevron. But ‘a attorney, of all individuals, should know that in the confront of a perceived injustice, just one could not take the law into his have hands.’ By repeatedly and willfully defying Decide Kaplan’s orders, that is exactly what Mr. Donziger did. It is time to pay back the piper.”

Donziger blasted the selection in a assertion of his possess Monday, contacting it “the hottest attempt by Chevron and its judicial allies to criminalize me and to send out a information of intimidation to legitimate human rights legal professionals who properly problem the key polluters of the fossil gas field.”

“The determination marks a unfortunate working day for the rule of regulation, for our democracy, and for our earth. The United States has now turn into one of all those international locations where by environmental advocates are attacked, put in jail, or even murdered for accomplishing their jobs successfully,” he extra. Donziger identified as the ruling a miscarriage of justice and vowed to charm on Twitter.

In his assertion, Donziger noted the regulation agency Kaplan assigned to the circumstance, Seward & Kissel, has previously been retained by Chevron. Preska has ruled the $30,000 Chevron paid out the company was not a significant plenty of amount of money to constitute a conflict of desire.

The prices in the case have a sentence of up to 6 months in prison.