Chevron Shakedown lawyer now held in contempt of court

From Hot Air

Jazz ShawPosted at 9:21 am on May 24, 2019

It’s been a while since we checked in on Steven Donziger, the New York City attorney who was the architect of the failed Chevron Shakedown. How are things going for him these days? Well, the first item to note is that I should issue a correction to that first sentence. Donziger has reportedly been disbarred from every place where he was previously allowed to practice law. He can now represent nobody but himself, so is he still technically an attorney?

Whether he is or not, he may want some outside representation in the near future. As it turns out, Donziger has raised the hackles of at least one judge he’s come before and is currently being held in contempt of court. (Forbes)

I’ve detailed the civil contempt of court motion against Steven Donziger in prior columns. So it’s very pleasing to read United States District Judge Lewis Kaplan’s remarkable, 75-page, contempt of court ruling. It begins with these words: “Steven Donziger, formerly a lawyer, has led a corrupt effort to extort billions of dollars from Chevron Corporation.”

After that devastating introduction, things only got worse. Donziger, whose “corrupt effort” has been described in this column, is now in contempt of court for blatantly and willfully violating Judge Kaplan’s orders. Those orders enjoined Donziger from continuing to personally profit from what Judge Kaplan termed “the fraudulent procurement of a multibillion judgment from a provincial court in Ecuador (the “Ecuador Judgment”).”

…It looks like a pretty harsh punishment, at least in terms of Donziger’s wallet. The court has given him until May 28th to remit all of the money he collected since the injunction was put in place… to Chevron. Yep. He has to write a seven-figure check to the same company he’s been trying to extort money from. If he doesn’t do that, the court will begin imposing a daily fine on him. Starting on May 28th the fine will be $2,000.00 and it will double each day after that until the payment to Chevron is complete. If he doesn’t repay the money quickly, he could soon be in debt to the court for even more.

Here’s the full article

HT/ Dennis K (happy?)

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May 26, 2019 6:27 am

I note that the lawyer who represented Stormy Daniels is also in trouble. link

I don’t know if there is some kind of correlation. I have noticed that some lawyers are very good at getting publicity and that those lawyers seem to have a greater than average chance of getting into trouble themselves.

I would draw a distinction between prominent lawyers who, by dint of their accomplishments, get into the news and those who just seem to be good at attracting attention. For example, I do not expect someone like Marie Henin to get into trouble any time soon.

Sam Pyeatte
Reply to  commieBob
May 26, 2019 9:32 am

Avenati and Donziger should form their own law firm and name it “Losers Inc”.

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  Sam Pyeatte
May 27, 2019 10:00 am

They don’t already work for Cheatham, Soakem and Split?

Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
May 27, 2019 5:19 pm

There is a legal firm in Glasgow which rejoices in the name:
“Bilkus and Boyle”.
I expect the bills they send out are paid on time.

Komrade Kuma
Reply to  commieBob
May 26, 2019 5:26 pm

My take on guys like Donziger is that there are ‘celebrity lawyers’ and ‘lawyer celebrities’. The former have sufficient talent (and egos) to represent high profile clients while the latter are a bit short on talent and are in it for themselves.

Michael S. Kelly LS, BSA Ret.
Reply to  commieBob
May 26, 2019 9:25 pm

Marie Henin is way, way too hot to get into any trouble. Wowza!

May 26, 2019 6:34 am

Wow, he has really pissed that judge off.

I’ve never heard of an exponentially increasing penalty before.

Reply to  Greg
May 26, 2019 8:07 am

Missed child support payments in Colorado are close. 12% interest, compounding every month.

Brooks Hurd
Reply to  rhs
May 26, 2019 11:28 am

$4,194,304 on the 21st day.
$536,870,912 on the 28th day
$68,719,476,736 on the 35th day.

12% isn’t even a light tap on hand by comparison.

Javert Chip
Reply to  rhs
May 26, 2019 11:51 am

Nope, not even close.

$2,000 at 100% compound interest per day = $2.15 Trillion in 30-days.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Javert Chip
May 26, 2019 2:49 pm

It’s worse than that, because the fines are cumulative. If you pay on day 10, you owe the fines for Day1 plus Day2 plus Day3, etc. So, what’s owed on day 3 is 2,000 plus 4,000 plus 8,000 for a total of 20,000, not 8,000.

Bryan A
Reply to  Greg
May 26, 2019 11:18 am

After week 1 he would owe $128,000
After week 2 he would owe $16,384,000
After week 3 he would owe $2,097,152,000
After week 4 he would owe $268,435,456,000
Wait a month then file bankruptcy

Reply to  Bryan A
May 26, 2019 12:56 pm

You can’t discharge legal fines and penalties under bankruptcy.

Reply to  Greg
May 26, 2019 4:36 pm

I am glad the judges are becoming cheesed off with these idiots.
I have been cheesed off by them for 3 decades (and counting).

Tom Halla
May 26, 2019 6:35 am

My Catholic upbringing leads me to a sense that feeling this much schadenfreude is somehow wrong.

Reply to  Tom Halla
May 26, 2019 9:11 am

The secret to a full enjoyment of life is the ability to separate guilt from pleasures.

Henning Nielsen
Reply to  PeterGB
May 26, 2019 2:38 pm

But…guilt IS pleasurable!
That’s what my Protestant upbringing tells me.

Reply to  Henning Nielsen
May 26, 2019 2:55 pm

Ah, the perversity of self-flagellation!

J Mac
Reply to  Tom Halla
May 26, 2019 10:47 am

Failure to heed the biblical admonition to “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you!” can be a double edged sword, as this shyster lawyer is finding out. Couldn’t happen to a more deserving individual…..

Reply to  Tom Halla
May 26, 2019 12:28 pm

When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people groan.
Proverbs 29:2

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  icisil
May 26, 2019 1:46 pm

Righteous and wicked are matters of perspective.

Reply to  Jeff Alberts
May 26, 2019 2:52 pm

That idea enables the wicked to rule.

Leonard Lane
Reply to  icisil
May 26, 2019 10:10 pm

icisl, you nailed it. Thanks.

Reply to  icisil
May 26, 2019 11:32 pm

“Righteous and wicked are matters of perspective.”

Another faculty member was questioning the idea of moral absolutes. He asked me to identify something that was unequivocally wrong.

When I responded with “students cheating on tests,” he wasn’t willing to argue for the cheating students’ perspective before other faculty members.

Reply to  icisil
May 28, 2019 11:43 am

“Another faculty member was questioning the idea of moral absolutes. He asked me to identify something that was unequivocally wrong.”

So many easy answers to shut him up …

*tacking a live cat to a tree by its tail to draw in bobcats for trapping.

*peeing in the coffee pot in the lounge to get even with the co-workers that you don’t like.

*cheating (as you said)

*eliminating his PERS

Matthew Drobnick
Reply to  Jeff Alberts
May 26, 2019 5:40 pm

I love the smell of moral relativism in the evening.
Unfortunately, people that share the sentiment Jeff just typed vote for policies based on feelings, and they eventually destroy great Nations.

Reply to  Jeff Alberts
May 28, 2019 11:47 am

I am severely limited, in that I can in no way imagine any perspective that would view Donziger as righteous.

May 26, 2019 6:38 am

Lawyers like Avenati and Donziger are media stars
Then with no comment they disappear.

Reply to  hunterson7
May 26, 2019 7:25 am

Yeay it’s interesting the local NPR of ours has taken down his name so it’s no longer being connected to the Chevron. This reminds me of a ‘singular case’, a typical comment after culture, religion, and sexism fuelled crime in which the perpetrator has an Ethnicity of Value.

Donziger is a singular case.

Javert Chip
Reply to  hunterson7
May 26, 2019 11:56 am

No comment?

The Democrats were quite happy to publicly discuss running this clown for president.

It was only after he spent a couple months crawling from the slime-pit to the cess-pool (eg: stealing from clients, etc, etc, etc) that Avenati “disappeared”.

May 26, 2019 6:53 am

The wheel of justice, in this case, is turning.
For decades I’ve wonder about just plain protesters who shut down a oil facility or prevent a pipeline can be held accountable for economic damage to the public.

Patrick healy
Reply to  Bob Hoye
May 26, 2019 11:17 am

Bob et al,
Just this past week my past employers – BP – held their AGM in the oil capital of the North – Aberdeen.
It was interrupted inside and outside the venue by a bunch of Marxists global warming alarmists.
This was particularly ironic as Bob Dudley the chairman, has sold his soul (and BP) to these green Neanderthals.
Bp is investing billions in the green boondoggle, from unreliables like windmills, solar panels, recharging points for scaletric cars and vast investments in bio energy burning food to make to make ethanol.
It goes to show that business does not do ethics. But then should I refund my pension if I had any of them pesky ethics?

Gerry, England
Reply to  Patrick healy
May 27, 2019 4:20 am

The entrances to the HQ in London were also blocked while the uniformed social workers looked on – I believe in some countries these people are known as ‘police’ and uphold and enforce the law.

Both BP and Shell are spending money on virtue signalling, as indeed are many oil companies, which I hope is just going with the flow. Shell were working on CCS but as soon as the government stopped the funding Shell gave up. As long as they make me money and keep the dividend cash rolling in I will stick with them.

Reply to  Bob Hoye
May 26, 2019 12:39 pm

Those days are over. US states are passing laws to make such lawlessness costly.

May 26, 2019 7:19 am

He should have followed the other pack into talcum powder and Roundup. Courtroom science with jury tampering works very well if you choose wisely.

Bill Powers
May 26, 2019 7:21 am

Blackguards, highwaymen, pickpockets, scoundrels and Tort Lawyers.

Reply to  Bill Powers
May 26, 2019 8:06 am

“Blackguards, highwaymen, pickpockets, scoundrels” …the detailed definition of a politician!

Reply to  Bill Powers
May 26, 2019 8:26 am

Not necessarily in that order.

May 26, 2019 7:43 am

Needs to be a law…..if you bring on a court case….and lose that case…you should pay for it all

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Latitude
May 26, 2019 1:54 pm

That means a poor person will likely not take the chance. Not a good law. Might be something with caveats, like pay if you have the means.

Reply to  Jeff Alberts
May 26, 2019 3:36 pm

Should be that when a lawyer brings a case determined to have no merit – the lawyer (and/or the firm they are a part of) pays all, plus other costs to the defendant than strict legal fees (time of employees wasted by depositions, etc.).

Lawyers are supposed to be able to know whether a case has at least some merit. That’s what all of those expensive years in school were for, and the bar exams, and the continuing education requirements.

Reply to  Latitude
May 26, 2019 6:58 pm

Ancient Athenian courts levied a special fine on tort plaintiffs who received less than 1/3 of the (several hundred strong) jury’s votes, as a penalty for wasting the court’s time.

My personally favored reform would be a 1-year time limit on any civil case, starting from the original date of filing. If time runs out before a verdict or settlement is reached, the case is automatically ruled in favor of the defendant and the plaintiffs are fined for wasting the court’s time. In this day and age, one year should be more than enough to do discovery and all other proceedings. Cases only stretch out as long as they do because the lawyers have an obvious incentive to delay and drag heels. They get more legal fees that way.

May 26, 2019 8:05 am

Starting on May 28th the fine will be $2,000.00 and it will double each day after that until the payment to Chevron is complete

Ah, I remember Martin Gardner’s inclusion of the rice grain and chessboard problem back in his Mathematical Games days when Scientific American was at its peak. If I were the judge, I’d have started at $1. It would give this twit an extra 11 days, no sweat.

Corollary question: when would the payment be half done?

Bloke down the pub
Reply to  Ric Werme
May 26, 2019 10:48 am

The penultimate before he pays it.

Duncan Smith
May 26, 2019 8:19 am

Corporations can do wrong, resource extraction can be a messy business. The moral of this story here though, if you are going to take them on, you better have the goods and you better play by the rules. Seems to be a common theme in the environmental movement, ‘rules’ can be broken if you have the (perceived) moral high ground….hide the decline anyone?

Greg Woods
Reply to  Duncan Smith
May 26, 2019 9:28 am

Donziger teaches us all a lesson: If you are planning a scam, don’t film it for a documentary…

Reply to  Duncan Smith
May 26, 2019 12:59 pm

I don’t see anyone claiming that corporations can’t do wrong. Nor do I see anyone proclaiming that resource extraction is always pristine.

Reply to  Duncan Smith
May 26, 2019 7:10 pm

To those folks, every corporate executive is Luthen Plunder from Captain Planet.

Never mind that going out of your way to trash the places where your company has operations is a terrible long-term business strategy.

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
May 26, 2019 8:53 am

From the summary I was wondering how Donziger was getting any settlement money — the US federal court barred any enforcement of the Equadorian court’s judgment, but in the article:

It seems that the shakedown effort has still been attracting “investors” hoping to nab a share of any money picked from Chevron’s pockets, and Donziger has managed to vacuum up roughly a million dollars since the injunction was first issued.

A number of law and investment firms and contributed money to the original legal action and Chevron has managed to collect from some of them in settlement agreements. Two major ones, Kohn, Swift & Graf, PC ($6 million) and Burford Capital ($4 million) pulled out in 2009 and 2013 respectively.

Nice touch forcing Donziger to fork over whatever else he’s gotten from other “investors” directly to Chevron — but only if it actually comes to pass.

Allowing Chevron to go after these contributors directly would be even better.

Best yet: allow Chevron to collect damages from the various corrupt organizations that were part of the original scam — Rain Forest Action Network, Amazon Watch and Greenpeace come to mind. And in spite of the court findings, they’re all still in it with Donziger.

Then there were some celebrities who were paid for appearances in support of the shakedown — Mia Farrow and Danny Glover among them. Allegedly Donziger also paid human rights correspondent Kerry Kennedy to go to Ecuador and write a piece for the Huffington Post, calling Chevron’s actions there “genocide”. Supposedly Kennedy was also to receive a percentage of the settlement which would amount to $40 million if if the full judgment was collected; Kennedy has denied this while admitting to receiving a “modest fee” for her time.

Donziger needs to spend at least 10 years in Club Fed.

Reply to  Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
May 26, 2019 1:01 pm

Collecting from certain Ecuadorian government officials would be nice as well.

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
Reply to  Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
May 26, 2019 3:04 pm

A little more digging: Kerry Kennedy is the daughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy, and the ex-wife of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Here is the article in the New York Post that details her financial arrangement with Donziger.

She was paid $50K in February 2010 (documented), and was scheduled to get $10K per month plus another $40K in June 2010 (budgeted; the article does not say if it was paid). Plus she was given a 0.25% interest in the settlement proceeds (worth up to $40 million). She made a trip to Ecuador sometime after August 2009 and described the environmental “horrors” she saw in a CNN interview on October 22 and in a Huffington Post column on November 4.

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
Reply to  Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
May 26, 2019 3:49 pm

More research. One venerable Washington law firm (Patton Boggs) thought they could cash in on the expected Chevron settlement, but had to cough up a $15 million dollar apology instead.

Details here.

John F. Hultquist
May 26, 2019 9:21 am

If Donziger has the money, or it is reasonably invested, there is time enough for him to make the payment without further penalty.
If he no longer has that money, or whatever, he may need to call in a few chips from friends and relatives.
Or go to jail. Maybe that is what the judge wants.

May 26, 2019 9:43 am

96% of lawyers give the remaining 4% a bad name.

I know that is hyperbole but from what I have witnessed for the last couple of years it is closer to being true.

The Trump investigation has been full of lying cheating lawyers. Swalwell and Schiff come to mind. They have lied consistently throughout.

Avenatti makes them look decent by comparison.

I saw the figures on this scumbag lawyer the other night. He made 121 appearances on CNN and 108 on MSNBC. That should tell you all you need to know about the corrupt networks. I hope you don’t get your news from them. Those two corrupt networks were making him into a potential Democrat candidate for president.

Reply to  CMay
May 26, 2019 10:16 am

Are you sure it’s not 97% ? lol

Reply to  Marcus
May 26, 2019 2:46 pm

I thought the figure was 99%.

May 26, 2019 12:43 pm

I guess if you can produce anything yourself and make money doing legitimate work then become a shakedown attorney.

Mark J.
May 26, 2019 5:32 pm

Back in 1991, Mr. Donziger went to Harvard Law School with one Barack Obama. They were buddies and played basketball together. Maybe Mr. Obama can help out his old law school buddy. Or maybe not…

May 26, 2019 6:21 pm

The Green-Democrat swamp . . .
Judge Kaplan not only threw out the judgment against Chevron but opened the door to suing or even prosecuting the plaintiffs under organized-crime laws. That was a shocking outcome for the main legal mover behind the Ecuadorian plaintiffs, Steve Donziger, an old basketball buddy of Barack Obama’s. And it was a knockout punch to Patton Boggs. Patton Boggs was a law firm unusually dependent on its lobbying business, and it had not only read the legal realities in the case wrong — it had misread the politics.
With partners and associates already headed for the doors as the firm’s financial woes deepened — its top election-law specialists, including Mitt Romney’s campaign lawyer, decamped as one for a competitor — Patton Boggs suddenly had a problem that put the partnership at odds with its partners.

May 27, 2019 7:21 am

Good grief – doesn’t this clown ever go away?

I worked for a law firm (as a paralegal; IANAL) for years before I retired a couple of years ago, and followed this from the beginning (I was in the environmental section, so it interested me). I can’t believe it’s STILL going on. I’ll bet it doesn’t end even after the judge puts his sorry @ss in jail. 🙁

James in Perth
May 29, 2019 8:19 am

If Steven Donziger is indeed collecting on a judgment against Chevron in Ecuador, in all likelihood, he is now a resident of Curacao and doesn’t give a sh– about this order. Would you stay in the U.S. if you could make that much money outside of it?

In any case, it is a happy ending whenever a corrupt lawyer is given his comeuppance. Especially when it’s an oil company delivering the punishment.

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