Accused of fraud against Chevron, lawyer is defiant in defeat

martes 4 de marzo de 2014 17:12 GYT

By Joseph Ax

NEW YORK, March 4 (Reuters) - Steven Donziger, the Harvard-educated lawyer who has waged a two-decade battle against Chevron Corp over pollution in the Amazonian jungle in Ecuador, is not one to accept defeat quietly.

Hours after a federal judge in New York ruled on Tuesday that he had used bribery and fraud to secure a $9.5 billion judgment against the oil company in Ecuador in 2011, Donziger promised to appeal and said the judge had let his "implacable hostility toward me ... infect his view of the case."

Critics, including Chevron, have painted Donziger as nothing short of a criminal, a lawyer who took advantage of a corruptible judicial system to buy a favorable judgment.

Supporters see him as a hard-charging hero who has spent 20 years fighting for impoverished villagers whose home was ruined by millions of gallons of toxic sludge.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, who oversaw a trial last fall on racketeering allegations brought by Chevron against Donziger, made it clear he was in the former camp, writing that there was "clear and convincing evidence" that Donziger had paid a judge to ghostwrite the Ecuadorean opinion.

"There is no 'Robin Hood' defense to illegal and wrongful conduct," Kaplan said.

Donziger, who had unsuccessfully tried to get Kaplan removed from the case, had predicted for months that he would lose, mostly because of what he said was Kaplan's obvious bias.

The trial pitted the enormous resources of Chevron, which was represented by the powerful law firm Gibson Dunn, against Donziger's smaller team of lawyers, activists and volunteers, a contrast Donziger has noted several times.   Continuación...