Yesterday the Supreme Court denied the petition for a writ of certiorari filed by Steven Donziger and several Lago Agrio plaintiffs, seeking review of the Second Circuit decision affirming Judge Kaplan’s judgment in the Chevron RICO case. Barring any unexpected surprises, and barring any ancillary proceedings in aid of cases pending elsewhere, this brings the main Lago Agrio case to a close in the United States. Judge Kaplan’s injunction will remain in place.
Although I’ve sometimes criticized the PR coming from Donziger and his allies, I have to say I like his chutzpadik statement following the Court’s decision:
The refusal by the Supreme Court to address the fact Chevron fabricated evidence to cover up its massive pollution in Ecuador is a grave mistake and a sad reflection on the U.S. judiciary in the eyes of the world. … [T]he Supreme Court has missed the last chance for U.S. courts to salvage their international reputation when it comes to their disgraceful conduct related to the Ecuadorian villagers’ fight for justice.
You have to admire the framing: it’s not Donziger and the LAPs whose last chance passed them by, it’s the Court!
The latest decision has no immediate effect on other proceedings, for example the enforcement proceedings in Canada, though it does leave open the question of the preclusive effect of Judge Kaplan’s findings. It’s possible that now that the US proceedings are concluded, we will see some professional responsibility cases—I can imagine a bar complaint being brought against Donziger in light of what Judge Kaplan found, and I can also imagine a complaint being brought against Chevron’s lawyers on account of their payments to Guerra (though in such cases an ethics opinion from a recognized scholar tends to go a long way towards defusing a bar complaint).