While the years-long tale of the Chevron Shakedown has mostly drawn to a close (with Chevron as the clear winner and the would-be conspirators being the losers), there was another interesting development in the story last month. You likely recall the New York attorney who helped mastermind the entire scheme, working in concert with corrupt judges and government officials in Ecuador. His name is Steven Donziger. He assembled the army of environmental activists who joined in on the assault, as well as the herd of “investors” who put up money to cover the costs of bringing the suit with the expectation of receiving a cut of the haul when Chevron paid them off.
As you read here if you were following our coverage, things went badly for Donziger at every turn, losing one challenge after another. Then, a court in New York declared him to have been guilty of racketeering as a result of the scheme. It turns out that such actions have professional consequences, and now Donziger has had his license to practice law suspended in both New York and the District of Columbia. (Legal Newsline)
On Sept. 14, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals suspended attorney Steven R. Donziger from practicing law in Washington, D.C., effective immediately.
The court’s decision comes shortly after the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court suspended Donziger’s license in the state of New York in July. Considering New York and Washington, D.C., were the only jurisdictions in which Donziger was licensed to practice law, he is no longer allowed to practice law at all.
Both decisions come as a result of Donziger’s allegedly illegal and unethical activity.
It was also proposed Donziger’s suspension be stayed pending the outcome of his disciplinary proceedings in New York.
According to this report, New York and D.C. were the only two places where Donziger could legally practice law. So this means that he’s completely out of business at this point. It’s a rather dramatic turn of events for someone who was previously sure that he could be cashing in to the tune of tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars once he finished picking Chevron’s pockets.
The Attorney Grievance Committee (AGC) in New York, which handled Donziger’s suspension, was blistering in their conclusions. They stated that the investigation into Donziger had produced, “uncontroverted evidence of serious professional misconduct which immediately threatens the public interest.” They went on to note that the Southern District of New York had determined Donziger participated in coercion, bribery, and money laundering among other things.
They also included the results of Donziger’s RICO and fraud trial. (Emphasis added)
During the seven-week RICO and fraud trial, Chevron presented what it describes as “unrebutted evidence” detailing the extent of the fraudulent acts undertaken and directed by Donziger, his Ecuadorian legal team and other associates, including fabricating environmental evidence, pressuring scientific experts to falsify reports, plotting to intimidate judges into handing down favorable rulings, bribing court-appointed experts, ghostwriting court reports and even drafting the final judgment.
Sometimes actions really do have consequences. Rather than kicking it on a beach somewhere and spending his ill-gotten millions, Steven Donziger is out of business and appears to be pretty much a pariah in the legal community. He bet it all on Chevron simply paying off a judgement to avoid a lengthy court hassle. Turns out he bet wrong.