A court system run by corporations

As of late, Steven Donziger has been championed as an environmentalist unfairly imprisoned by Chevron. His arrest and conviction were clearly bought and paid for.

Below are the key highlights of the story. What happened to Donziger could have happened to the most innocent and law-abiding lawyer. This is what it’s like to be a black man accused by a white court.

Mr. Donziger…spent decades suing…Chevron… for damaging the environment and despoiling the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador, harming the tribespeople…there. [1] Finally, in 2011, an Ecuadorean court ruled in favor of Mr. Donziger’s clients…Determined to avoid paying…[Chevron]…brought a RICO case against him in the United States. [1] [I]n 2014, Judge Lewis A. Kaplan [a former corporate lawyer [2]] ruled in Chevron’s favor….[H]e…accused Mr. Donziger…of attempting to use the court to extort money from Chevron. [1] In 2018, after Judge Kaplan’s judgment had finally been affirmed, the company brought another case…[They] wanted him to turn over his computer and other electronic devices….But Mr. Donziger refused…saying it would give…“backdoor access to confidential attorney-client communications.” [1] When the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York declined to prosecute the case, Kaplan appointed a private law firm linked to Chevron, Seward & Kissel…. [2] “The judge never disclosed that the law firm had Chevron as a client,” [Donziger] said. “So, essentially, I’m being prosecuted by a Chevron law firm, a partner in a Chevron law firm, a private law firm, who deprived me of my liberty.” [2] Misdemeanor criminal contempt carries a maximum sentence of one year. If the penalty is more than six months for this type of charge…a defendant would get a trial by jury….Judge Loretta A. Preska…denied…a jury trial. In July, Judge Preska found Mr. Donziger guilty of all charges.[3] [She] found Mr. Donziger guilty, and sentenced him to…six months…. He was also disbarred. [1] Mr. Donziger…had already spent more than 800 days under home detention after the court cited flight-risk concerns…. [3] [I]ndependent United Nations experts…found his court-ordered home confinement of more than two years a violation of international human rights law. [3]

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/06/business/dealbook/steven-donziger.html

[2] https://www.newsweek.com/steven-donziger-lawyer-chevron-jailing-backfire-1643344

[3] https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/27/business/energy-environment/steven-donziger-chevron.html