A federal judge has found environmental and human rights lawyer Steven Donziger guilty of six counts of criminal contempt of court after he refused to turn over his computer and cellphone. The case stems from Chevron’s unprecedented legal campaign against Donziger over his role in winning an $18 billion settlement against Chevron for dumping 16 billion gallons of oil into the Ecuadorian Amazon. In an unusual legal twist, the judge appointed a private law firm with ties to Chevron to prosecute Donziger, after federal prosecutors declined to bring charges. Donziger, who has been under house arrest for almost two years, condemned the judge’s ruling.
Steven Donziger: “This is an outrageous decision. I see it as an attack on human rights lawyering, an attack on the very notion of corporate accountability for the fossil fuel industry. And I’ve already been locked up in my home awaiting this decision for almost two years on a misdemeanor. I’m the only lawyer in American history, as far as we can tell, who’s spent even one day, prior to trial, locked up. I’ve been here now 720 days. This is an outrage. It’s a violation, I believe, of the rule of law. It’s terrible for our democracy, and it’s terrible for the planet. The United States cannot become a country that begins to lock up its human rights lawyers, its environmental advocates, its Earth protectors.”
Steven Donziger has vowed to appeal Monday’s ruling. Click here to see our recent interview with Donziger.