Chevron ‘Donziger’ case wrapping up in NYC

One of the most-watched civil cases in the country, pitting California-based Chevron against what the New York Times called a “freelance” attorney, is headed for closing arguments this week in New York City. Over the last few weeks a parade of witnesses have testified about bribes, perjury and other allegations. The trial, before a federal judge not a jury, even has a de facto YouTube channel as parts of Joe Berlinger’s documentary “Crude” are posted.
At issue is a previous trial in Ecuador that resulted in judgement of more than $9 billion against Chevron, based on work done by Texaco before the later company was acquired by Chevron. In part, the case has become famous after a judge ordered that outtakes from the Berlinger movie could be seen as evidence for Chevron, not just the whole film. The unused footage apparently shows very candid conversations about intimidating judges and misrepresenting evidence, and is posted all over YouTube. Chevron is, in effect, suing Donziger under RICO laws.
Any Google search returns plenty of stories, but let us recommend this recent report from the New York Times that includes “… one after another, the witnesses, including some of his closest allies and financiers who are now estranged from his cause, have testified that Mr. Donziger committed witness tampering and fraud.” Read that here.
And for a more recent report, that’s much more sympathetic for Donziger, check out this interview-focused  Adam Klasfeld piece in the Courthouse News Service.

Hollywood Screenwriters Couldn’t Make This Story Up

For sheer TV-drama level civil court action, albeit on the installment plan, you can’t get much better than the multi-billion-dollar slugfest between San Ramon-based Chevron Corp. and a New York attorney that’s playing out in New York this month. At issue is a roughly $19 billion 2011 judgement from an Ecuadoran court against Chevron. 
But this case is not an appeal or even a lawsuit against Chevron. It is actually against the attorney who spearheaded the Ecuadoran case, Steven Donziger. The oil company is suing Donziger under federal laws for, in effect, conspiring to commit fraud. The trial has been going on for weeks, featuring an array of admittedly corrupt judges, outtakes from the documentary film “Crude” that are an entire case in themselves and some of the nation’s most powerful law firms.
Donziger has denied all the allegations. The trial is a real peak into how big-time civil cases are financed and how at least one case had enough intrigue for Hollywood. And, yes, there are already films in the works. Get started with a story about how a respected Philly firm rolled into the scandal here.