Friday, January 27, 2012

Gibson Dunn: Litigation Disaster of the Year Award

Can We Get A Re-Count?

So much for Gibson Dunn's Litigation Firm of the Year Award, recently bestowed on it by the legal publication, American Lawyer.

If ever there was a reason for a re-count, it's now.

In a critical ruling yesterday, the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals seriously dissed Chevron's law firm Gibson Dunn and specifically its lead partner on the Ecuador case, Randy Mastro, in its outright dismissal of a lower court ruling that sought to block enforcement of an $18 billion Ecuador judgment against the oil giant for massive contamination in the Amazon rainforest.

In selecting Gibson Dunn as its Litigation Firm of the Year, the highly-conflicted American Lawyer described Mastro as .... well, a maestro of legal strategy.

(American Lawyer covers the legal fight between Chevron and the Ecuadorians yet, at the same time, worships at the Gibson Dunn altar -- and its advertising budget.)

Gibson Dunn itself brags openly about its ability to "change" laws so its huge corporate clients can run amuck in developing countries, much like Chevron did in Ecuador. Read all about it at Paul Paz y Mino's great Huffington Post blog here.

But the 2nd Circuit decision painted a much different picture than the one American Lawyer sketches regularly for its legal audience.

Despite Mastro's arguments to the contrary, the three judges said the lower court did not have the authority to “dictate to the entire world which judgments are entitled to respect and which countries’ courts are to be treated as international pariahs."

Ouch, Randy.

And, there's more:

“It is a particularly weighty matter for a court in one country to declare that another country’s legal system is so corrupt or unfair that its judgments are entitled to no respect from the courts of other nations. In such an instance, the court risks disrespecting the legal system not only of the country in which the judgment was issued, but also of other countries, who are inherently assumed insufficiently trustworthy to recognize what is asserted to be the extreme incapacity of the legal system from which the judgment emanates.”

Double ouch.

Now maybe you're thinking The Chevron Pit is being too catty about Mastro's run of bad decisions -- there have been four in all. See here.

But Randy Mastro is the lawyer who stood before dozens of U.S. courts and called the victims of his client's misconduct in Ecuador "criminals," "con men," and "extortionists" guilty of atrocities worse than any the "Mafia mobsters" have committed.

So excuse us for pointing out the obvious: Gibson Dunn lost the argument. One judge, one court, one law firm cannot sit in judgment of another sovereign country's judiciary, especially since Chevron wanted the trial there in the first place.

One day the real story about Chevron in Ecuador will be told, and it will be abundantly clear the only fraud committed in the context of this historical and important lawsuit was Chevron's.

Read the judgment here.

Randy Mastro

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