Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Reuters’ Column Reveals Judge Kaplan’s Bias Against Ecuadorians In His Upcoming “Show Trial” On $18 Billion Judgment Against Chevron

A recent Reuters’ column by journalist Alison Frankel reveals the stark bias of U.S. Federal Judge Lewis Kaplan against the Ecuadorians who recently won an $18 billion judgment against the oil giant for oil contamination in the Amazon rainforest.

Frankel’s column makes clear that even though Chevron’s charges against the Ecuadorians focus largely on one of their lawyers, Steven Donziger, Judge Kaplan has refused to allow Donziger and his attorneys to participate in an upcoming trial on the enforceability of the Ecuadorian judgment.

It’s also clear from the mountain of trial discovery that Chevron is demanding from Donziger, the other attorneys in the case (even interns!) and the Ecuadorians that the oil giant fully intends to drag Donziger center stage into the trial.

Frankel quotes from the legal brief, asking Judge Kaplan for fairness:
“If what actually happened in Ecuador matters at all to the court's decision, the court should let Donziger intervene, grant the Lago Agrio plaintiffs' motion (for more time) and let the parties conduct a real, not show, trial," states the brief, written by Donziger’s law firm, Keker & Van Nest.

Frankel includes this statement from the brief:
"The exclusion of Donziger from full intervention in this 'do-over' trial has reached the point of absurdity. The trial will be about him, and he won't be there to defend himself against Chevron calumny."

Frankel reported that Judge Kaplan even went so far as to deny Donziger attorney John Keker the right to speak on a telephone conference call with the judge and Chevron’s lawyers.

She wrote from the transcript of an August 2nd phone conference. “At the end of the conference, John Keker said, ‘Your honor, can I say something?’ Kaplan replied: ‘No, Mr. Keker. You're not in the case for this purpose. You're being given the courtesy of being conferenced in but the scope of your intervention has been fixed.’"

Meanwhile the Ecuadorians, represented by Smyser, Kaplan & Veselka, see Judge Kaplan’s actions as proof of his bias.

"Judge Kaplan encouraged Chevron to file the lawsuit against Steven Donziger and when Donziger demanded an immediate jury trial Judge Kaplan all but directed Chevron to drop him as a defendant," said the Ecuadorians’ spokeswoman Karen Hinton. "Now he won't let Donziger anywhere near his courtroom. This is turning into a home-cooked judicial bailout for Chevron."