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 March 29, 2023

Supreme Court rejects hearing appeal of lawyer who bribed judge in $18 billion Chevron lawsuit

Steven Donziger, a disbarred environmental lawyer who famously sued Chevron over pollution in Ecuadorian rain forests, and won an astonishing $9.5 billion payout in Ecuadorian court after bribing the judge in the case, just received bad news from the U.S Supreme Court.

The money was never collected, and Donzinger has been in a series of legal situations, one of which found him convicted and imprisoned.

Reuters reports:

The court turned away an appeal by Steven Donziger, who has argued that his prosecution violated his rights under the U.S. Constitution because private lawyers appointed by a federal judge handled the case against him after the U.S. Justice Department declined to do so.

In 2022, the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that the judge possessed the authority to appoint the prosecutors.

After Donziger sued the energy giant in Ecuador, Chevron turned the tables and sued Donziger in U.S. courts, where U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan found that Donziger only won in Ecuadorian court through "corrupt means."

In 2021, the former environmental lawyer was convicted of civil contempt of court charges after he failed to comply with a request to send his electronics to a team of Chevron's forensic experts for discovery.

Throughout his various legal issues, he began the appeals process. A circuit court upheld his conviction.

Last September, Donziger petitioned the Supreme Court to grant certiorari but was formerly denied that request on Monday. He released a quick statement on Twitter regarding the high court's decision to deny his appeal.

"BREAKING: In a huge blow to the rule of law, the US Supreme Court today let stand Chevron's prosecution and 3-year detention of me after helping Indigenous peoples win the historic Amazon pollution case. Gorsuch dissented: 'Our Constitution does not tolerate what happened here,'" Donziger tweeted.

Two conservative justices on the high court, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh dissented from the high court's decision to reject Donziger's appeal.

"However much the district court may have thought Mr. Donziger warranted punishment, the prosecution in this case broke a basic constitutional promise essential to our liberty," the two justices wrote.

"In this country, judges have no more power to initiate a prosecution of those who come before them than prosecutors have to sit in judgment of those they charge. … Our Constitution does not tolerate what happened here."

It's unclear what Donziger's next legal move is.

Written By:
Ryan Ledendecker

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