Reposted from Eye on the Amazon
Chevron's retaliatory RICO case against the Ecuadorians and their lawyers would not have come about were it not for the generous suggestion of U.S. Federal Judge Lewis Kaplan. Chevron spent millions upon millions filing cases against the Ecuadorians everywhere other than Ecuador once the company saw the verdict was about to come down, but when they met Kaplan, they hit pay dirt.
Chevron's strategy has always been to denounce and attempt to discredit any adverse decision from the Ecuadorian judicial system, but Kaplan gave them something they'd never dreamed of: a trial without the facts. An excellent breakdown of the weaknesses is laid out in a recent post on the Huffington Post.
In reality Chevron only cares about Kaplan's "facts." What they want most is to be able to tout that a US Federal Judge found that there was fraud – to the media, to their shareholders and to foreign courts, even if they have no legitimate legal remedy available to them. It's a SLAPP suit on steroids. Of course, you wouldn't know that if you read the business media's fawning reporting in Chevron's favor, each outlet trying to out scoop the other in repeating the company's talking points.
Donny Rico nails it, but to hit a few of Kaplan's finest moments:
- Kaplan suggested the case be brought in the first place
- Kaplan rejected normal procedure and assigned the case to his own court
- Kaplan began by calling the Ecuadorians "so-called" plaintiffs
- Kaplan issued a global injunction before even hearing the case (later slapped down)
- Kaplan refused to let the evidence of Chevron's misdeeds be considered
- Kaplan treated the Ecuadorians like second class citizens
- Kaplan allowed Chevron to seize protected and privileged documents
- Kaplan violated the First Amendment rights of journalists and others allowing Chevron to seize private emails and other protected documents
- Kaplan refused to allow a jury in the case
- Kaplan decided not to disclose that he owns Chevron stock through several mutual funds
- Kaplan permitted double hearsay testimony from an admitted liar as the key witness for Chevron
Remember, these are just highlights. For a more complete breakdown check out the "Mockery of Justice" report.
Donny Rico is out there telling it like it is – a glowing example of corporate power abusing the legal system to trample people and planet. If allowed to stand, Kaplan's legacy could make Citizens United look like just the beginning.
I work as the Director of Outreach and Online Strategy at Amazon Watch. The views expressed in this column are mine alone. Amazon Watch is proud to accompany the Ecuadorian communities affected by Chevron's deliberate contamination in the Amazon for over a decade. During the course of our lengthy campaign, Amazon Watch has also allied with the legal team responsible for one of the most important environmental victories in history by achieving a $9.5 billion judgement against Chevron affirmed by the Supreme Court of Ecuador in a 222-page decision that meticulously documents the company's environmental crimes, fraud, bribery, and subterfuge during the long eight-year trial.