The Corner

Law & the Courts

What Should Become of Steven Donziger?

Neither persistence nor determination are virtues. Yes, people value them: We all want to cheer for The Little Engine that Could and Rudy. But Steven Donziger, the environmental-activist lawyer, is no Rudy. Actually, he’s more of Bernie. As in Madoff.

Donziger has been written about frequently here, for his crusade to conduct what has been called the legal fraud of the century: A contrived and calculated green-scamming operation to fleece Chevron over alleged rain-forest polluting in Ecuador (for alleged unremediated well sites that allegedly caused cancer for local peasants), masterminded by Donziger, who orchestrated a brazenly corrupt trial against the oil giant.

That foray ended well for the intrepid barrister: a bribed and coached Ecuadorean judiciary hit Chevron with a $9.5 billion judgment.

Chevron, a National Review advertiser (praised be!), fought back, and took no prisoners. Among other things, the counterattack resulted in a federal court action, and in 2014, as Kevin Williamson wrote at the time, Donziger was on the receiving end of a brutal ruling, rendered by District Judge Lewis Kaplan. National Review’s editorial had this to say about the esquire scammer:

[Donziger is] a politically connected Harvard Law classmate of Barack Obama. Mr. Donziger would come to be the central figure in the legal case against Chevron — a case that, according to a decision just handed down by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, was the product of an ongoing criminal conspiracy under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO. The judge, Lewis Kaplan, found that Chevron’s antagonists had used “corrupt means” to procure a $9.5 billion judgment against Chevron in Ecuador, and that those means included falsifying evidence, coercing judges, bribing “independent” expert witnesses and ghostwriting those “independent” experts’ reports to the court, bribing the Ecuadorian judge in the case, and subsequently lying to U.S. legal authorities in an attempt to cover up their misdeeds.

Shot down in the U.S. courts (and getting clobbered internationally, such as earlier this year in Canada), Donziger appealed Kaplan’s ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court. Same old same old: This week SCOTUS handed the leftist his latest defeat.

Donziger’s globe-trotting circus is getting boring — he’s certain to take his action to some nation demanding its legal system enforce the corrupt Ecuadorean ruling to swindle Chevron (he responded to the SCOTUS verdict saying he was seeking “an international judgment enforcement process.” Before he splits for Burundi or Bulgaria, someone should grab his passport, because it is time he possibly conduct his efforts from the confines of a federal prison cell. As Kaplan wrote in his 2014 decision, Donziger engaged in “bribery, coercion and fraud.” Those are harsh claims from a federal judge (backed up by copious facts, and even an amazing confessional video starring Donziger bragging about his scam). We wonder when a U.S. attorney will formally charge this man with criminal RICO charges. The shareholders of Chevron deserve justice, and the criminal Left that Donziger represents deserves as strong a throttling as our laws will permit.

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