Steven Donziger has filed a petition seeking Supreme Court review of the Second Circuit decision affirming his conviction for criminal contempt of court. The petition is very well-done, and Donziger is in good hands with Stephen Vladeck. There is no question in the petition about Donziger’s factual guilt. Instead, the question is the constitutionality of Rule 42 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, which requires the court to appoint a special prosecutor to prosecute cases of criminal contempt when the government, for whatever reason, declines to prosecute. This is a super-interesting issue that the Court might want to pursue, though I have to think that the gonzo facts of this case probably will counsel against granting against the petition.
Someone asked me today whether the new petition might lead to Donziger’s law license being restored. I think the answer to that is clearly “no.” The factual basis of Donziger’s disbarment was Judge Kaplan’s findings of fact in the New York RICO case. He has not been disciplined for his contempt of court, and so vacating his conviction for contempt would have no relationship to the discipline that has already been imposed.