Inner City Press

In Other Media-eg New Statesman, AJE, FP, Georgia, NYTAzerbaijan, CSM Click here to contact us     .

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis

Share |   

Follow on TWITTER
SDNY tweets
MRL on Patreon

Home -

These reports are usually available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis


(FP Twitterati 100, 2013)

ICP on YouTube
Sept 24, 2013

UN: Sri Lanka


FOIA Finds  

Google, Asked at UN About Censorship, Moved to Censor the Questioner, Sources Say, Blaming UN - Update - Editorial

Support this work by buying this book

Click on cover for secure site orders

also includes "Toxic Credit in the Global Inner City"




Bank Beat

Freedom of Information

How to Contact Us

After Donziger Trial Ends, Chevron Bid Against Page & Forum Nobis Panned by Magistrate

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon, Song Photos

SDNY COURTHOUSE, May 17 – Steven Donziger, who had a June 2020 trial date postponed amid the Coronavirus pandemic, had his bench trial begin on May 10, 2021. Inner City Press live tweed the morning here (podcast here) and the afternoon here (video recap here).

  Inner City Press continued its live tweet coverage on Day 2 here

Day 3 hereAnd Day 4 here  and below.

  After 5 pm on May 17, SDNY Magistrate Judge Robert W. Lehrburger issued a 26 page order recommending against sanctions on Aaron Page and Forum Nobis, calling many of the issues moot. Photo here, and watch this site.

  Earlier on Monday May 17 there was a short and final proceeding of the trial, which Inner City Press live tweeted here:

it's US v. Donziger trial , now Week 2, with  @SDNYLIVE  Judge Preska ruling on Martin Garbus' Touhey motion.

Judge Preska: What is that sign behind you? It should be turned around. Garbus: Can I make my argument all the way through, rather than in this incoherent way?

Judge Preska: Your request for discovery was denied.

Martin Garbus: I find the Court's lack of curiosity about the motives of this prosecution striking.

Judge Preska: I believe we should set a briefing schedule.

Ron Kuby: I suggest one month, simultaneous briefing. Judge Preska: I want to have it fresh in my mind.

Ron Kuby: I request again that the emails be placed under seal for appeal.

Judge Preska: I reject the motion again for the reasons cited. Anything else?

Ron Kuby: I think not.

 Afterward, Kuby, Martin Garbus, Donziger and at the end Roger Waters held a press conference on Pearl Street, which Inner City Press live streamed here. Inner City Press' Alamy photos here  and now, short podcast here

  Inner City Press asked about the refusal to collect and seal emails for review by the Second Circuit. Ron Kuby told Inner City Press that the Second Circuit could remand for this. Steven Donziger introduced his wife, and showed his GPS "bracelet" on his ankle. Roger Waters spoke at the end. Watch this site.

 Late on May 14, Gibson Dunn has filed a declaration insisting that its witness William Thomson's travel was not paid for by Chevron, as he testified, but rather by Gibson Dunn. How do you say, Thou dost protest too much?

Earlier on Friday, May 14, Donziger and his lawyers held a press conference. Inner City Press asked about the emails Ron Kuby had asked be filed under seal for review by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

Kuby detailed how the emails, if they exist, could show improper (and round-about) ex parte contacts.

Martin Garbus referred to the $10,000 a day lawyers who attended Donziger's disbarment proceeding. Both spoke of the unprecedented nature of private prosecutor Rita Glavin being unsupervised by DOJ, a seeming Constitutional problem for considering on appeal.

Inner City Press will be covering Monday's proceedings. For now, this song.

From Day 4, May 13: Kuby says he doesn't want to accuse Judge Preska of "premature adjudication."

Kuby: Same objection. Judge Preska: Same ruling. Private prosecutor Glavin does on question about what is in, and what is not in, the 2d Circuit appeal docket sheet. This could take a while.

 Kuby: I have an application... I'm sorry, was I speaking too loud? Judge Preska: No, I was waving at a CSO [Court Security Officer] in the back.

Kuby: It *is* nice to see people back in court. Judge Preska calls half hour break. Thread will continue.

 We're back, and it's the same. Kuby: Same objection to line of questions. Judge Preska: Same ruling.

Private prosecutor Glavin: Mr. Thompson, please summarize what Judge Kaplan is ruling here. Thompson: Judge Kaplan says Mr. Donziger was in contempt of Paragraph 5.

 Glavin: Dd Mr. Donziger in his brief challenge Judge Kaplan's ruling directing him to turn over devices? Kuby: I object. I'd rather hear Mr. Thompson's version rather than Ms. Glavin's. Judge Preska: This is a bench trial. This method is to shorten things.

Glavin: Mr. Thompson, who represented Mr. Donziger on this appeal? Thompson: He listed himself as pro-se. But in a footnote he says an unnamed attorney helped him.

 Kuby: I object. Judge Preska: How much more do you have, Ms. Glavin? Private prosecutor Glavin: I'm almost done. Kuby: I should have objected earlier. Glavin: You wouldn't have gotten the same answer.

Private prosecutor Glavin: There's a letter I'd like to have read into the record. Ron Kuby: Well, there are a lot of things I'd like to have read into the record. But this is about the Amazonia shares, for which he's not trial. Glavin: It goes to his state of mind

 Kuby: It seems we will have to give up our Friday. At least our Friday morning. Private prosecutor Glavin: I can finish up. This is the last exhibit for Mr. Thompson. Thompson: This is Mr. Mastro's response to Mr. Donziger's letter. Glavin: Begin with "the upshot" I

Thompson (reading) - "the upshot is that turning over the shares" would be giving up two decades of work. Glavin: What did Mr. Donziger propose? Thompson: That he would make promises on what he would not do. Glavin: Did Chevron agree? Thompson: No.

 Kuby: Can I begin cross examination? Judge Preska: I thought you were hungry. Kuby: I am... hungry for justice. [Clapping from the socially distanced gallery] Judge Preska: Come on, children, let's get this going. Kuby: This will not be brutal.

Kuby: Do you agree that "there is no political question in the US that does not turn into a judicial question?" Thompson: I do. And with that, the lunch break begin.

We're back from lunch break in the trial. Now Kuby on cross: Kuby: You have no way to know if Donziger read those documents, right? Thompson: I don't know. Kuby: You know he went to Harvard Law School, right? Thompson: I read that.

Kuby: But a Harvard Law Degree doesn't convey any particular skills, right? Thompson: I can't say. Kuby: You went to UCLA, right? Thompson: Yes.

 Kuby: Are you aware of Mr. Donziger participating in any case other than Lago Agrio? Thompson: I don't know.  Kuby: How is Mr. "Keker"?  Thompson: A lawyer in San Francisco. Kuby: And he withdrew, due to -- Private prosecutor Glavin: Objection. Relevance.

Kuby: By 2018, Mr. Donziger was pro se, correct? Thompson: I don't know when. Show me a brief. Kuby: But you and Gibson Dunn lawyers dealt with him directly, correct? Thompson: Yes.

Kuby: We have three private partners, & Gibson Dunn, here.  But Mr. Thompson is not answering like a witness.

Judge Preska: He said he didn't understand. Kuby: No, he said -- why don't you call on Mr. Brodsky? Brodsky: Strategy is privileged, work product.

 Kuby: Mr. Thompson, you're a partner at Gibson Dunn? Thompson: Yes Kuby: So you prosper when the firm prospers? Thompson: Yes Kuby: And you're prospered pretty much, right? Thompson: The firm has done well. Kuby: Is Chevron your largest client? A: Not the largest.

Thompson: Texaco became a subsidiary of Chevron. Glavin: Relevance? Judge: What are we doing here? What are we asking? Kuby: A brief history. For the 1782. I'm getting to where you're cut me off. Trust me.

Kuby: When you strolled down the hallways or enormous edifice of Gibson Dunn did you see Randy Mastro chatting with Ms Glavin? Thompson: I haven't been to my office in a year and a half. 

Kuby: No further questions.

 It's still going. Re-re-cross. Kuby wants to show Thompson Doc Number 160, and ask about Ecuador's intervention. Kuby: Didn't Chevron work for 8 years to get the case transferred to Ecuador? Thompson: If you're asking if was personally involved, the answer is No.

 Kuby: Isn't it true that at the time the case was transferred to Ecuador there was a corporatism government in power there?

Thompson: I'm not sure what you mean by corporatist. Judge Preska: This was not mentioned in Ms. Glavin's re-re-direct. It's beyond the scope.

Private prosecutor Glavin: We call our next witness. Kuby: One thing - if Ms. Glavin does not like something the defense group is doing, take it up with me, not to confronting members of the defense team.

Judge Preska: How long will cross take? Answer: 30 minutes. Judge Preska: Let's stay & get this done.

fwiw: this last private prosecutor witness is Ondrej Krehel of LIFARS LLC - computer forensics. He was appointed, he says. And Donziger was supposed to give him things - a list of devices and accounts

Glavin: Turn to March 18, 2019. Did you see Mr. Donziger on that day and if so why Krehel: According to the protocol, myself and 2 forensic technicians, we were at the address [we are not publishing]. We entered the lobby but Mr. Donziger didn't answer

Krehel: Then Donziger walked in with coffee -  Glavin: With what? Krehel: Coffee. Mr. Donziger told us we will not receive any devices from him.

Glavin: Do you see the man with the pony tail? To which side of him is Mr. Donziger? Krehel: Left. Judge Preska: What color mask does he have on? Kehel: Blue.

Now cross examination, by Rhiya Trivedi. Trivedi: Turning to GX 2172 Judge Preska: This is 2171, I believe. Trivedi: Go to Paragraph 6. Does it exclude any person found on a computer? Krehel: In my experience is to wait for another order. Trivedi: Non responsive.

 It's past 6 pm and Day 4 of US v. Donziger is still going. Trividi: I'm a lay person. I can make an offer of proof. But would you just say "overruled" on their objection? I don't get to hear that much.

Judge Preska: I'm not there yet.

Trividi: "the rainforest Chevon has destroyed" Judge Preska: You know better than that. If you do it again, you're sitting down. Trividi: Sorry Judge. I'm trying to show how Ms. Champion testified in a way that was patently false.

Trividi: You took this job for public interest elements? Krehel: It is an honor to be appointed by Judge Kaplan. Trividi: Mr. Krehel you are one of the most earnest people I have every known. No further questions.

 Glavin: I want to read into the record 10 lines from Donziger. Kuby: If it's only ten lines I don't care what it is. Glavin (reads about Donziger passport). The Special Prosecutor rests.

Judge Preska: 9 o'clock on Monday? Kuby: In the evening? Trividi: That's when we go to the collateral bar. Glavin: Ms. Trividi should not have said Ms. Champion's testimony was patently false. That's not fair.

Kuby: There's no wherefore clause. Trividi: Ms Champion testified to fact. They were false.

Judge Preska: You're not taking it back. I had hoped to talk with Mr Garbus about his motion but he seems to have left the jurisdiction. Kuby: Mr. Donziger is gone too.

Kuby: If there is no defense case, we'll make a Rule 29 motion. Then another stack of papers, proposed finding of fact and law. 

Judge Preska: Let us know over the weekend. Adjourned.

   Previously, Donziger's lawyer Andrew J. Frisch challenged Prosecutor Rita Glavin and her then firm Seward & Kissel LLP for alleged conflict of interest, claims shot down on January 6. But Frisch didn't raise, and perhaps has no standing to raise, another conflict of interest, for prosecuting for the US while also representing defendants being prosecuted by the US Attorney's Office.

 Now, Donziger has served subpoenas on Gibson Dunn and some of its partners, seeking information. They have responded on May 4 with a motion to quash; their memo of law begins, "Defendant Steven Donziger, an adjudicated racketeer who led a decades-long scheme to extort Chevon Corporation.

 Now on May 6, Donziger has fired back: "Corporate law firm and litigation behemoth Gibson Dunn & Crutcher (GDC) has made many millions of dollars in the last decade attacking and demonizing renowned human rights lawyer Steven Donziger. GDC lawyers have used virtually every dirty trick in the book: threats and intimidation, paid 'fact' witnesses, corporate espionage, blitzkrieg litigation, crushing discovery demands, invasion of the attorney-client privilege, corrupt experts, fake journalists, and more. And while they did all this per marching orders from their client, Chevron, to “strateg[ically] demonize Donziger,” they have now developed it all into an independent business model. Gibson Dunn sells itself as “not just a law firm, but a rescue squad,” “willing[] to work beyond the courts,” to think “aggressively” and “innovatively”—“like plaintiffs lawyers”—and to “tireless[ly] unearth evidence to try to discredit” its clients’ critics, even when those critics are the client’s own human rights victims." We'll be here.

On April 15, Donziger's lawyer Martin Garbus wrote to Judge Preska asked that she make the trial viewable worldwide by Zoom.

Judge Preska on April 16 denied the request.

Docketed on April 27 was a request from a committee including Michael Tigar, Nadine Strossen, Jeanne Mirer, Simon Taylor, Charles Nesson and Kip Hale have written to Chief Judges and Judge Preska for audio access to monitor.

Now on April 29, Judge Preska has ordered: "ORDER as to Steven Donziger. The Court is in receipt of the letter, dated April 13, 2021, from the Danziger Case Monitoring Committee ("the Committee") regarding the public-access measures for Defendant Steven Donziger's upcoming trial. (See dkt. no. 270.) That letter discusses two topics: (1) measures to ensure that those who attend the trial in person can do so safely and (2) remote audio/visual access to the trial proceedings for those who wish to observe them. As to the first point, the Court reiterates its previous order which indicated that (1) the Court had requested access toa larger courtroom for Mr. Donziger's trial, (2) the Court will provide one or more overflow rooms from which to observe the proceedings, and (3) the Court will allow members of the press to sit, in a distanced manner, in the jury box to ensure that more seats are available to the public. The Committee's letter provides no legal authority to the contrary, and the COVID-19 pandemic does not afford the Court license to ignore the Federal Rules. Consistent with guidance from the CDC and New York State Department of Health, the Southern District of New York has adopted extensive rules and guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in its courthouses and to ensure that any in-person proceedings can be held safely. 3 Subject to the protocols in place at the time of Mr. Donziger's trial, any interested member of the public may attend the trial in person (Signed by Judge Loretta A. Preska on 4/30/21)." Watch this site.

There are precedents worth noting, including Judge Rakoff's recent provision of a call-in line for his trial in US v. Weigand, after passage of the CARES Act. And several Federal District courts have provided Zoom access. Inner City Press will keep reporting on this case.

  Back on August 17, 2020 Judge Preska reaffirmed that the trial will go forward on September 9. But amid a flurry of letters from Donziger's back up counsel on September 4, Judge Preska issued an order moving the trial to November 3: "Before the Court is Mr. Frisch’s motion (dkt. no. 157) asking the Court to vacate its order directing him to appear as Mr. Donziger’s counsel at trial set to begin next Wednesday. For the following reasons, Mr. Frisch’s motion is GRANTED, and trial is continued to November 3." Then 4 then 9.

Now on November 6 the US' private counsel has written to Judge Preska, "We write on behalf of the United States to inform the Court that the Government consents to the defense request for an adjournment of the trial date. While we are ready for trial on Monday, November 9, 2020 (just as we were ready to begin trial on September 9), and Mr. Donziger has certainly had adequate opportunity to secure counsel in-person for the November 9 trial, we do not oppose allowing Mr. Donziger additional time to secure counsel to attend trial inperson... the Government consents to the defense request for an adjournment, and respectfully requests that a firm trial date be set for January 19, 2021 assuming that date is acceptable for the Court."

 On January 10, Judge Preska "reluctantly" granted another adjournment of the Donzinger trial, this time to May 10 - and also denied Donziger's motions to dismiss Counts 1, 2 and 3 of the Court's July 31, 2019 Order to Show Cause." Those are still in 11-cv-691....

On August 28, Judge Preska has disqualified two of Donziger's lawyers - and has put Frisch back in the case, in a separate order. The first: "CURCIO ORDER as to Steven Donziger. The Court issues this order to reiterate its findings at the Curcio hearing held on August 24 and 27, 2020, at which the Court disqualified two attorneys on Mr. Donziger's defense team Richard Friedman and Zoe Littlepage and again ordered that if Mr. Donziger's other counsel Martin Garbus and Lauren Regan -- decline to appear in a manner acceptable to him or are unable to act as lead counsel, his former lead attorney, Andrew Frisch, will represent Mr. Donziger at trial beginning on September 9. For the foregoing reasons and as explained at the Curcio hearing, Mr. Friedman and Ms. Littlepage are disqualified, and if Mr. Garbus and Ms. Regan decline to appear at trial or the circumstances of their appearance are unacceptable to Mr. Donziger or they are not in a position to act as lead counsel, Mr. Frisch will represent Mr. Donziger at trial commencing on September 9. (Signed by Judge Loretta A. Preska on 8/28/20)."

  Then, dispensing with or preparing for the "if," this: "Attorney update in case as to Steven Donziger. Attorney Andrew James Frisch for Steven Donziger added."

  Yet still Team Donziger is angling for a perhaps merited delay, this time only one additional week, denied by Judge Preska in an order released on Saturday August 29: "ORDER as to Steven Donziger. This evening, Ms. Regan sent an email to Chambers, attached as Exhibit A to this order, stating as follows: Judge Preska requested that Mr. Donziger's legal team provide a list of witnesses who intend to appear by video by today's date. Since Mr. Friedman and Ms. Littlepage were removed from the case yesterday, and I was not involved in that facet of the trial preparations, I believe the defense will need another week so that Mr. Frisch can respond appropriately. Presumably by yesterday the several consummate professionals involved in this matter had already prepared a list due to be submitted today. While taking Ms. Regan's point that it may now be Mr. Frisch who will submit this list, he may have until Monday, August 31, to do so. SO ORDERED. (Signed by Judge Loretta A. Preska on 8/28/2020)."

  In the 2d Circuit, there's this.

  From Inner City Press' live thread: Judge Preska: Mr. Donziger, with whom did you consult with about the conflict?

Donziger: Charles Nesson from Harvard Law.... and CJA lawyer Todd.

Judge Preska: Do you wish to proceed with Mr Friedman as your lawyer?

Donziger: Let me read something from the podium... I only became aware of this conflict issue on August 21. Private prosecutor Glavin: This was raised to Mr. Friedman in May. Donziger: There's a lot going on in my life... I've never done a Federal criminal case, never heard of Curcio

Donziger: I'm being forced to choose between Constitutional rights. I want to make a record. I have a right to a conflict free lawyer. But they all have conflicts... I've faced disbarment, this case is important to my life, my wife and 14 year old son...

Judge Preska: We are here to talk about conflicts. Donziger: Can I just finish my point? I have a proposal. I have another counsel from NYC, pro bono, qualified. Won't need to travel. But he cannot until December 7. His name is Ron Kuby.

 Now after Donziger returns from phone call in jury room, the court room is being sealed and Press excluded.

We're back, and Judge Preska asks if she can disclose "the second issue Mr Donziger raised." Marty Garbus wants to talk to Friedman.  Judge Preska: Call him on your phone. Garbus: I'll have to get off this phone. Judge Preska: I can't help you with that.

 On August 24 at the defense table was Donziger, alone. He had three lawyers on a TV screen, but to speak with them by a landline, the Press was politely asked to leave the courtroom by Judge Preska.

Donziger asked for an order to bring his cell phone upstairs. It will not be happening, but on August 27 the landline will be put in the jury room -- the same one in which a jury convicted Patrick Ho of UN bribery.

  On August 24 Prosecutor Glavin complained that Martin Garbus did not try to fix his Internet fast enough.

 At issue on August 24 was 2014 correspondence Glavin submitted on August 11, involving Richard Friedman and Zoe Littlepage, and whether it raised a conflict of interest that Donziger might try to raise in any appeal. A CJA lawyer was on call, but Donziger said with all due respect he didn't know or therefore trust her.

  The trial is shaping up to be a circus. Inner City Press will cover it.

On August 21, Dongizer's Oregon-based co-counsel has renewed the request to postpone the trial, saying that cross country airplane travel is too dangerous. Dr Anthony Fauci is cited. 

Now on August 22, the hybrid-private prosecutor has filed to have a government witness with a redacted condition appear by two way video: "The prosecution respectfully requests that the Court enter findings and an order permitting the live, two-way video conference testimony of a subpoenaed Texas-based prosecution witness at the September 9, 2020 trial. As detailed below, this application is based on the witness’s advanced age and [REDACTED], placing him at a uniquely heightened risk for severe and life-threatening illness if he contracts COVID-19, his physician’s strong admonition that he not travel to New York given his age and his medical condition, and the anticipated nature of the witness’s testimony. Because the witness is required to travel from Texas, presently a Restricted State under New York Department of Health guidance, he would also be required to arrive in New York by Wednesday, August 26, 2020, in order to quarantine for 14 days prior to entering the courthouse for his testimony at the September 9 trial." How will Judge Preska rule? Watch this site.

 On July 9, Donziger's lawyer Richard H. Friedman asked SDNY Judge Preska for disclosure of how much is being paid for the private prosecution of his client. He cited US v. Suarez, a Second Circuit decision find a qualified public right of access to CJA forms and says, "that right should be even stronger in the present context."

 Now on July 22, Judge Preska has ruled: "ORDER as to Steven Donziger: Having reviewed samples of Seward & Kissel's prior invoices for the special prosecutors' work on this case, the Court concludes that disclosure in line with what the Court of Appeals approved in Suarez is appropriate. For each paid invoice, the special prosecutors shall disclose (i) the invoice cover sheet showing the billing totals; (ii) the page of the billing statement showing "Total Hours," "Total Services," "Total Disbursements," and "Total Amount Due," and redacting any other information from that page, including any itemized time entries or narrative descriptions, as that information risks improperly revealing the prosecution's strategy before trial and thus falls outside the public right of access; and (iii) the final page of the invoice showing the hours, rates, and amount attributable to each individual lawyer. To the extent the special prosecutors have concerns that producing the invoices in the fashion outlined above would threaten disclosure of trial strategy or would otherwise result in prejudice, they may apply to the Court for appropriate relief. (Signed by Judge Loretta A. Preska on 7/22/2020)." Watch this site.

   Inner City Press politely in writing asked for a response on this last year; no answer. It has been advised by other criminal defense attorney's that the issue should be raised to the Federal Defenders, given their role. But should that be necessary? We'll have more on this.

  On December 4 U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Loretta A. Preska proposed four trial dates and the parties chose, for now, June 2020. Glavin, who has yet to answer written Press questions about simultaneous services as Special Prosecutor and CJA defense attorney (we still remain hopeful, and open to publishing any explanation), again argued that the Speedy Trial Act does not apply to this proceeding. Time was excluded nevertheless.

 On September 13 in another off shoot of l'affaire Donzinger, SDNY Magistrate Judge Robert W. Lehrburger a discovery hearing was held. The lawyer for Chevron described in great detail the so-called "Donzinger protocol" to search for responsive records. She then said there were still bugs to the protocol, such as a search for Amazon as in the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest turning up documents about what she called the "mail order company" Amazon. Somewhere Jeff Bezos was wincing. Or not.

  Still unexplained is how a lawyer can at once prosecute a case for the United States and represent indigent criminal defendants against it. We hope to have more on this - we did ask.

  On August 12 Donzinger's then new lawyer Andrew J. Frisch appeared before SDNY Judge Loretta Parker and informed her that while follow lawyer Martin Garbus, staying at Truro near Provincetown in Massachusetts, is willing to co-sign Donziger's bond, it is possible he will not travel to the courthouse in Boston, much less New York, in the time frame specified.

 Frisch offered to find another co-signer. Judge Preska gave him until the close of business on Wednesday, August 14. This is a unique hybrid of a case, both criminal and civil; Judge Preska for the record excluded time under the Speedy Trial Act.   Representing the United States in the proceeding was lawyer Rita J. Glavin, who also serves as an appointed criminal defense attorney on the SDNY's Criminal Justice Act panel, which to some might seem a conflict, into which Inner City Press has respectfully inquired. And is still waiting. The case is US v. Donziger, 19-cr-561 (Preska).

Inner City Press will continue to cover this and other SDNY and 2nd Circuit cases - watch this site, and there is more on Patreon, here.


Feedback: Editorial [at]

Box 20047, Dag Hammarskjold Station NY NY 10017

Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

 Copyright 2006-2021 Inner City Press, Inc. To request reprint or other permission, e-contact Editorial [at] for