The Chevron RICO trial grinds on

posted at 10:01 am on November 9, 2013 by Jazz Shaw

A couple of weeks ago we brought you up to date on the new Autumn blockbuster, Chevron’s Revenge: The Good Guys Strike Back. The huge energy company (and major American employer, let’s not forget) was taking New York lawyer Steven Donziger and his pals who had been attempting to pick their pockets to court for a RICO trial. The case has been proceeding in a stately fashion since then, with more witnesses appearing to describe the extremely shady events which led to the original judgement against Chevron.

As CNN reports, this week brought a special surprise as the judge in the Ecuador trial was brought to the stand to explain his original judgement. To put it mildly, things didn’t go well for Team Donziger.

Disastrous day for the Lago Agrio plaintiffs in Chevron trial

In remarkable testimony Tuesday in federal court in Manhattan, the former Ecuadorian judge who signed a $19 billion environmental judgment against Chevron in 2011 seemed startlingly unfamiliar with the contents of the opinion he claims to have authored. He was unable to account for key data, reasoning, case citations, and terms he used in it.

The strikingly poor performance of the judge, Nicolás Zambrano Lozada, appeared to bolster Chevron’s contention that the $19 billion judgment in the environmental case, commenced in Lago Agrio, Ecuador in 2003, was not written by Zambrano at all, but rather by the plaintiffs lawyers themselves, who, Chevron maintains, won that opportunity by agreeing to pay Zambrano $500,000 from out of any eventual recovery. Zambrano maintains that he wrote the ruling without any assistance from anyone.

Zambrano’s testimony came in a civil case Chevron (CVX) filed in Manhattan in February 2011 against U.S. lawyer Steven Donziger and other leaders of the Ecuadorian litigation. In that suit, brought under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), Chevron accuses the Lago Agrio plaintiffs team of having won the huge Ecuadorian judgment through bribery, extortion, fraud, witness tampering, obstruction of justice, and money laundering.

CNN has, in the past, seemed to try to paint something of a kindly face on the Ecuador team’s case, or at least give them the benefit of the doubt for the claims they brought. This time, however, it seemed to be even a bit much for them. The judge is quoted answering a number of questions put to him about the contents of the judgement he supposedly authored. Pretty much all of them being – and occasionally end – with, “I don’t recall.”

On another occasion, when asked to identify something as basic as, “the statistical data of the highest importance” the judge appeared to offer what CNN described as, “a guess.” Unfortunately, the guess was wrong, bringing an even more farcical tone to the proceedings. And we need to keep in mind that they’re talking to him about something from 2011. The defense has had two full years to prepare the guy for this questioning and he still couldn’t get his ducks in a row to spit out a few good answers.

The trial will drag on for a while longer, but we’ll keep you up to date on developments as we move toward what will hopefully be a dose of actual justice. Thus far it’s looking pretty bad for the pickpocket brigade.


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Comments

The idea of “standing trial to find out what’s in it” has a certain appeal to it.

Flange on November 9, 2013 at 10:07 AM

I still want to see Kerry Kennedy’s ass in jail, too.

Blake on November 9, 2013 at 10:11 AM

Bribing a judge also runs afoul of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a piece of legislation with some rather *nasty* penalties.

Mohonri on November 9, 2013 at 10:18 AM

What difference, at this point, does… Oh never mind.

bofh on November 9, 2013 at 10:18 AM

A corrupt judge from South America?

As someone said a long time ago, far far away:

That’s not true…..that’s impossible.

BobMbx on November 9, 2013 at 10:34 AM

But what does this have to do with Chris Cristie’s deification? Two posts in a row with no Cristie? Allah must still be asleep.

RoadRunner on November 9, 2013 at 10:51 AM

Hang them all, starting with Donziger and Kennedy. Hang this fake judge.

Jaibones on November 9, 2013 at 10:52 AM

But what does this have to do with Chris Cristie’s deification? Two posts in a row with no Cristie? Allah must still be asleep.

RoadRunner on November 9, 2013 at 10:51 AM

Now wait a minute. From Allah:

I honestly don’t understand why me gaming out a possible Christie alliance with Cruz has people grumbling that we’re treating him like the GOP messiah. I don’t much like Christie. I don’t like his position on guns and the more I see him, the more he grates on me personally. I realize that he’s a RINO and I’m a RINO and therefore I’m supposed to be in the tank for him, but I’m not. At least read the post before you whine.

Allahpundit on November 7, 2013 at 5:00 PM

Quit putting words in his mouth and misinterpreting his quotes (I do it all the time, but no matter…)

Jaibones on November 9, 2013 at 10:55 AM

I appreciate Jazz for keeping us up to date on this story. It’s a slow moving story so it’s not the sort of thing that grabs headlines. But it’s very, very interesting and instructive. Thanks, Jazz. Keep the stories coming.

rogaineguy on November 9, 2013 at 11:05 AM

But what does this have to do with Chris Cristie’s deification? Two posts in a row with no Cristie? Allah must still be asleep.

RoadRunner on November 9, 2013 at 10:51 AM

*rubs eyes* I totally read that as ‘defecation’.

Midas on November 9, 2013 at 11:16 AM

Quit putting words in his mouth and misinterpreting his quotes (I do it all the time, but no matter…)

Jaibones on November 9, 2013 at 10:55 AM

Misinterpreting his quotes? Let’s see, where have I heard that before? Maybe, “If you like your something, you can keep your something?” I think I’ll pay more attention to actions, and less attention to words.

RoadRunner on November 9, 2013 at 12:50 PM

*rubs eyes* I totally read that as ‘defecation’.

Midas on November 9, 2013 at 11:16 AM

Potayto, potahto… With Cristie, there probably the same thing.

RoadRunner on November 9, 2013 at 12:52 PM

*rubs eyes* I totally read that as ‘defecation’.

Midas on November 9, 2013 at 11:16 AM

Potayto, potahto… With Cristie, there probably the same thing. Either way, we end up with shi fecal matter.

RoadRunner on November 9, 2013 at 12:53 PM

Unless there is actual jail time doled out there will be no justice in this case.

Then MAYBE environmental wackos will sit up and pay attention.

goflyers on November 9, 2013 at 12:58 PM

Hey, this would make a great movie!

Corrupt big enviro strikes again!

*Crickets from Hollywood*

PattyJ on November 9, 2013 at 1:48 PM

….what will hopefully be a dose of actual justice.

Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch. I think a South American jail would be in order.

iurockhead on November 9, 2013 at 1:54 PM

How in the world did they get this Ecuadorian judge to the US to testify? Did Donziger and Kennedy get him US citizenship and move him to the US as part of a deal?

RJL on November 9, 2013 at 4:35 PM

Misinterpreting his quotes? Let’s see, where have I heard that before? Maybe, “If you like your something, you can keep your something?” I think I’ll pay more attention to actions, and less attention to words.

RoadRunner on November 9, 2013 at 12:50 PM

You do realize this is a blog, right?

RINO in Name Only on November 9, 2013 at 7:08 PM

When chasing the big bucks, eventually someone gets over anxious and decides (perhaps) to tip the scales in a non-obvious way.

Assuming that Donziger, et al, did do what Chevron is trying to prove, it seems likely that Donziger, et al, figured that nobody would believe a big multi-national like Chevron and they could walk away with a big payday.

Russ808 on November 11, 2013 at 1:49 AM