The Squad wants AG Garland to free Steven Donziger

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File

Yesterday members of the Squad including Reps. AOC, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib and others, sent a letter to Attorney General Garland asking that he free former environmental lawyer Steven Donziger. I say former lawyer because Donziger was disbarred last year. Here’s a bit of the letter the Squad sent to AG Garland:

Mr. Donziger, who has no prior criminal record, has been a beloved and vaunted member of the environmental and human rights communities for decades. Mr. Donziger has done nothing but uphold the highest professional ethics in representing and protecting his clients but has since been thrown in federal prison for petty contempt charges, a first in United States history. Mr. Donziger began serving a six-month sentence for petty contempt of court at the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Connecticut on October 27, 2021, despite the many calls from the international legal community that his pre-trial detention for over 800 days was a violation of international law. This case has shocked the worldwide community of environmental justice and human rights advocates and creates a distinct chilling effect on this type of advocacy going forward…

Right now, Mr. Donziger sits in a crowded federal prison because a Chevron attorney made it so, without Executive Branch supervision or ever seeing a jury of his peers. As the United States is a party to the District Court case against Mr. Donziger, we request that you act immediately to reclaim control of this case, dismiss the charges, and free Mr. Donziger from his imprisonment. The international legal community is appalled by what has transpired in the Southern District of New York and the Department of Justice’s commitment to a just rule of law requires immediate action.

The Biden administration must send a clear signal that it stands with communities harmed by pollution and environmental destruction and the lawyers courageous enough to represent them and not the corporations that benefit from polluting the water, air, and land of local people.

This of course overlooks all of the evidence that Donziger’s case against Chevron was built on fraud. And Axios points out that the DOJ has already weighed in on this case, arguing against Donziger’s appeal.

The DOJ submitted a friend-of-the-court filing earlier this month arguing that Donziger’s appeal against his contempt conviction should be rejected.

Lawyers for the DOJ said his “argument that his prosecution by private attorneys violated the U.S. Constitution’s appointments clause” was wrong, Reuters notes.

Jazz has been writing about this case since 2012. You can scan back through his pieces to get a sense of how this has developed over nearly a decade. Also, you can watch this clip produced by Chevron that spells out how the trial in Ecuador that led to the judgment against Chevron was manipulated by Donziger and his fellow attorneys.

Here’s part 2 of the video which shows how the “independent” expert was actually under the control of (and receiving money from) the plaintiffs’ attorneys from the start.

Does the Squad have any comments about the fraud underlying Donziger’s case in Ecuador? It seems like they don’t care too much about that.