Lago Agrio: Judge Guerra’s Testimony
Posted on October 24, 2013
Today Chevron filed the witness statement of Judge Alberto Guerra Bastidas, a star witness if not the star witness of Chevron’s case. Judge Guerra retells the story we have already seen of the ghostwriting, the bribes, and so forth. Guerra retells the story of his ghostwriting relationship with Judge Zambrano, Donziger’s involvement, the payments from Zambrano and others, and so forth. Bernard Vaughan has a good account of his testimony, which apparently included some oral direct examination. My favorite tweet about the testimony comes from @pulvdiggity via @Fedcourtjunkie: “I lied before but now I’m on the side of a big corp, so you should believe me.” Yet it’s important to note that Guerra has some corroboration in the form of bank records showing deposits to his account by Judge Zambrano.
Rather than go through the testimony in detail, I want to make the following observation. I was struck by the ordinariness of the corruption Guerra recounts. Guerra and Zambrano would have thrown the game for Chevron if only Chevron had been willing to pay. There was nothing apparently political about the corruption Guerra recounts. It was good old-fashioned graft. Remember, though, that it’s important to Chevron to be able to say that the Ecuadoran courts changed dramatically and for the worse with the political changes in Ecuador, including the election of President Correa. Chevron wants to make this case because it wants to explain why it was okay to say, at the forum non conveniens stage, that the Ecuadoran courts were good enough, and then to say, at the recognition stage, that the Ecuadoran courts are so bad that their judgments cannot be recognized. But if we’re just talking about ordinary graft, and not politically motivated judging, then why is there a strong case to be made about a changed judiciary in Ecuador?
Doug Cassel, I will look forward to your thoughts on this!