Chevron’s lead outside lawyer on the Ecuador environmental litigation, Randy Mastro of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, always plays fast and loose with the facts. His goal is to try to distract attention from Chevron’s human rights violations and fraudulent misconduct in Ecuador to cover-up the company’s leading role in creating the world’s worst oil-related environmental disaster. Now he has been caught in another outright deception, with U.S. courts as the victim.
Mastro likes to fashion himself as a former “mob prosecutor”. But that reality is far from the truth, given that he “served” in the civil division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the 1980s and therefore never prosecuted anybody. In fact, Mastro was considered a “weak link” in the office, according to a former colleague who spoke to the Chevron Pit.
Lies by Mastro and other Gibson Dunn lawyers such as Andrea Neuman and Kristin Hendricks about the Ecuadorians are notorious for causing ethical problems for Chevron as it desperately tries to avoid paying the $19 billion judgment imposed in Ecuador after an eight-year trial that produced more than 220,000 pages of record evidence documenting the company’s wrongdoing. See here and here.
Mastro is the mastermind behind a long list of dirty tricks being played against the Ecuadorians after Chevron was found guilty for the dumping of billions of gallons of toxic waste into the water supply of the rainforest. See here and here.
Mastro’s intent is clear: to use any means necessary to help Chevron stop enforcement of the Ecuador judgment by creating a fake narrative that the rainforest indigenous communities and their lawyers are greedy, corrupt and even violent.
Mastro and his minions at Gibson Dunn (including more than 60 lawyers working on the case and well over $100 million in annual billings) have waded through 600 hours of video outtakes from a documentary about the environmental disaster in Ecuador, called Crude. Mastro reduced the 600 hours to a few minutes of heavily edited and manipulated comments -- all as part of his effort to derail the historic lawsuit and, in the process, destroy the reputation of Steven Donziger, a lawyer who for almost two decades has fought in virtual anonymity on behalf of the rainforest communities victimized by Chevron.
This corporate defense tactic executed by Mastro is pretty simple – when your client commits massive crimes and fraud, you attack the lawyers and try to focus attention on anything but the merits of the case. Unlike Mastro, most lawyers who engage in this tawdry tactic are smart enough not to get entangled in their own lies.
Read how “mob prosecutor” Mastro has completely distorted the meaning of Donziger’s comments in the video outtakes before multiple U.S. courts (chronicled in greater detail on pages 137 to 143 of this document):
**In his typical preposterous way, Mastro in court papers accused Donziger of establishing an “armed army” to literally attack the Ecuador court with weapons. In fact, Donziger was trying to organize a lawful rally of his clients to press the court to resist Chevron’s corrupt strategy to delay the trial by drowning the court in papers and threatening judges with jail time. This illegal tactics had paralyzed the proceedings. In the full transcript – not the one Mastro submitted to U.S. courts – it is clear Donziger was engaging in completely lawful and appropriate behavior no different than any lawyer would do (or should do) if his clients were being corruptly denied a fair trial by an adversary.
Mastro accused Donziger of saying that only politics and the press coverage mattered during the trial; that the trial itself was of no consequence. Donziger, however, was actually making a much different point: that the court had all the evidence it needed to convict Chevron, and that fact needed to be conveyed to political and press contacts. (Of course, the hypocrisy is astounding. Chevron is one of the largest political donors in this country and spends hundreds of millions every year hiring advertising and public relations firms to manage its tattered image here and abroad.)
The exact conversation on the video clearly shows Chevron and its General Counsel R. Hewitt Pate are paying Mastro to lie to U.S. judges. Mastro simply uses his willingness to cross the ethical line as an advantage in the highly competitive legal marketplace. Most companies would never buy this approach, but Chevron – a company just as arrogant as Mastro – feels entirely comfortable with the strategy.
Mastro badly needs to restore his reputation after an astounding defeat in favor of the Ecuadorians in front of the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals. In that case, Mastro was humiliated when he could not answer basic questions from the panel and was laughed at by the spectators and the judges on the bench.
Meanwhile, Donziger – a sole practitioner who works out of his apartment -- is fighting back against Chevron’s intimidation tactics. He has filed claims against Chevron for lying to U.S. courts and engaging in extortion and fraud to cover up its crimes in Ecuador. See here and here.
In typical fashion, Chevron (led by Mastro) has desperately opposed Donziger’s claims, which completely destroy the company’s fake narrative. Mastro and Chevron CEO John Watson are obviously scared of the truth coming out. If it did, one would see that the company’s callous approach to Ecuador has resulted in numerous deaths and the wholesale destruction of indigenous communities.
It remains to be seen if the notoriously opinionated Judge Lewis A. Kaplan – who already has been reversed once by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals -- continues to buy into Mastro’s charade or lets Donziger’s claims proceed.