Environmental lawyer Steven Donziger was found guilty of criminal contempt by U.S. District Court Judge Loretta Preska Monday for refusing a judge’s order to hand over evidence.
In 2011, Donziger won a $9.5 billion lawsuit against Chevron in Ecuador on behalf of Indigenous residents and farmers for pollution damage Texaco, an oil company Chevron bought in 2000, did to the Amazon rainforest. In 2014, that ruling was invalidated by a U.S. district judge who found Donziger was involved in racketeering, fraud, and other misconduct. The judge granted Chevron seizure of Donziger’s laptop and phone, and when he appealed this, he was charged with contempt and placed under house arrest.
The case has been marked by rule bending and bias. For example, when federal prosecutors declined to take the case, a private law firm that has represented Chevron moved to prosecute Donziger, a first for the American judiciary system. Additionally, Judge Preska was hand-picked by the judge who ruled on the 2014 case, rather than being randomly assigned as is standard. Preska is also an advisor to the Federalist Society, which receives major donations from Chevron.
Donziger has been under house arrest for the past two years and now faces up to six months in prison. However, Donziger has said he will appeal the ruling on the basis that he did not receive a fair trial.
This is a quick news brief from Nexus Media. (Image added by editor.)
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