Doug Cassel on the Lago Agrio Case
Posted on March 17, 2012
Doug Cassel, professor of law at Notre Dame Law School and one of the authors of an amicus brief in favor of Chevron in the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights proceedings, has an important post up at Opinio Juris on the Lago Agrio case. He lays out some of the reasons why he concluded, after reviewing Chevron’s allegations of fraud in the Ecuadoran proceedings, that Chevron is in the right. As Roger Alford writes in the comments, responding to an attack on Professor Cassel by Kevin Jon Heller, it seems likely that “an international human rights lawyer like Doug Cassel is not going to be attracted by the meager financial rewards of writing one amicus brief before the Inter-American Commission if he did not believe that there were fundamental violations of due process that were at stake.”
Professor Cassel’s post, and the open letter to which he links, are worth a read. My own view (see, e.g., here and here), for what it is worth, is that maybe it shouldn’t matter whether the Ecuadoran proceedings were corrupt. Chevron fought to have the proceedings moved to Ecuador, and as many other have noted, there seems to be something wrong with allowing Chevron to impugn the Ecuadoran judiciary after it touted the Ecuadoran judiciary when it was trying to get the original New York proceedings dismissed on forum non conveniens grounds. But that’s different from saying that the Ecuadoran proceedings were fair. While I don’t think it’s possible for someone outside the litigation who has not read the record to give a firm opinion on the propriety of what happened in Ecuador, Chevron’s case that the proceedings were in fact unfair or corrupt is worth serious consideration.
Kevin Jon Heller has responded with a post of his own with examples of what he says are Chevron’s misbehavior in Ecuador. I think these claims are worth serious consideration, too, though I do not think that they do much to support the notion that the Ecuadoran proceedings were fair and impartial.