Chevron Corp. v. Donziger

For those of you who haven’t tuned out Jarndyce v. Jarndyce Chevron Corp. v. Donziger, the never-ending litigation between oil giant Chevron and plaintiffs’ lawyer Steven Donziger, today brings some news. It shouldn’t come as any surprise to those who have been following the case, but Judge Lewis Kaplan (S.D.N.Y.) just ruled in favor of Chevron, enjoining Donziger and his Ecuadorean-villager clients from trying to enforce here in the United States the multi-billion-dollar pollution judgment they secured against Chevron in Ecuador — a judgment that was the result of fraud, according to Judge Kaplan. (Links to coverage and to the parties’ reactions to the ruling appear at the end of this post.)

The Chevron/Ecuador case is one of those matters that’s most interesting to those who are actually involved in it; to the rest of us, it’s a lot of noise. Speaking for myself, I’m interested in only two aspects of it: (1) its impact on the revenue and profit of Gibson Dunn, which has been litigating the case aggressively on behalf of Chevron, and (2) its meaning for the deeply troubled law firm of Patton Boggs, which made the ill-advised decision to align itself with the Ecuadorean village people.

In a media call this afternoon that I joined, Chevron’s general counsel, R. Hewitt Pate, declined to discuss the size of the company’s legal fees in the litigation. So we’ll have to focus on that second item: the bog that is Patton Boggs. Which right now looks like the Lago Agrio oil field, prior to remediation….

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* A guy who tried to get on the bench more than once was just busted in a prostitution sting. Oops. He also spells his name weird. [The Press Democrat]

* Tomorrow, Gibson Dunn partner Miguel Estrada will argue before the Second Circuit that private parties can’t get injunctions under RICO. For those keeping score, Gibson Dunn partner Randy Mastro hangs his whole case in Chevron v. Donziger on a request for an injunction under RICO. Time to play the Distinguish Polka. [Courthouse News]

* Wait until the RIAA realizes there are royalties to be made at CIA black sites in Uzbekistan. Because the only thing more torturous than being forced to listen to this music is the tenacity of the RIAA. [Slate]

* More on the legislative fight over accrual accounting versus cash-basis accounting for Biglaw firms. To the barricades! Swear your allegiance to Generalissimo MacEwen! [Adam Smith, Esq.]

* Is there a right to online anonymity? All the people out there trying to hire contract killers over the Internet certainly think so. [InsidePrivacy]

* Jay Edelson and Chandler Givens of Edelson PC examine the flawed law firm recruitment model. [Legal Solutions Blog / Thomson Reuters]

* Slip and falls at the IRS office. [Lowering the Bar]

* Choose your own adventure: Will you read this to see how many times Justice Alito recused himself during OT 2013? Or will you read this to see Justice Alito’s doofy-looking picture? [National Law Journal]

* Hackers took down the entire PACER system as well as various federal court websites on Friday. No, the FBI says it was “technical problems.” Oops, nope, still hackers. :( [Switch / Washington Post]

* It seems the best way to train new associates is to do the opposite of what Biglaw has been doing for decades. Take Stephen Susman’s word for it — you could probably end up with a $40k bonus. [The Careerist]

* A decision hasn’t been rendered in the Chevron case yet, but is Steven Donziger feeling pessimistic? He’s already hired impressive appellate counsel. [WSJ Law Blog]

* “Everybody’s been very nice to us, even though we’re lawyers.” Shocker. David Boies, Ted Boutrous, and Ted Olson had fun at the Sundance Film Festival promoting “The Case Against 8.” [Associated Press]

* Finally, a happy ending to an absurd science experiment. Over the weekend, a judge ordered that Marlise Munoz, a brain-dead pregnant woman in Texas, be removed from her respirators and ventilators. [CNN]

There were things that I did in Ecuador in the foreign legal system that were I felt appropriate for the foreign legal system based on what I observed as an American lawyer. And there are things down there that, no, would not be appropriate here.

– Embattled plaintiffs’ lawyer Steven Donziger, defending himself against allegations of bribery, witness tampering, and fraud, in testimony yesterday in Chevron Corp. v. Donziger.

Justice Clarence Thomas in conversation with Judge Diane Sykes.

Over the past few years, some amazing speakers have appeared at the Thursday evening dinner of the Federalist Society’s National Lawyers Convention. Last year, Justice Samuel A. Alito offered a very funny look back at his time at Yale Law School. In 2010, Justice Antonin Scalia engaged in a spirited and wide-ranging conversation with legal journalist Jan Crawford.

Last night’s event will be tough to top. Justice Clarence Thomas, speaking with Judge Diane Sykes of the Seventh Circuit, delivered remarks that were “equal parts hysterical, poignant and inspiring,” as Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett noted on Twitter.

I was lucky enough to attend, seated just one table away from the stage. Here’s my account of the evening (plus a few photos)….

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Novus Law School’s epitaph?

Ed. note: In honor of Columbus Day (and Canadian Thanksgiving), Above the Law will be on a reduced publication schedule today. We will be back in full force tomorrow.

* Justice stops for no one, not even a broken Congress. With the end of days approaching quickly for federal courts in terms of funding (or the lack thereof), many judges are lashing out and declaring all their employees essential. [National Law Journal]

* Legal expenses can be especially “painful,” even for the biggest of banks, but sadist firms like Sullivan & Cromwell, Paul Weiss, and WilmerHale are really getting their rocks off on Jamie Dimon’s suffering. [DealBook / New York Times]

* DLA Piper’s future’s so bright it’s got to wear shades — and appoint a new co-managing partner in New York City, its largest office. Congratulations to Richard Hans, you’ve co-made it! [New York Law Journal]

* “It’s not just about me.” Jim Tanner, a Williams & Connolly partner who represents Jeremy Lin, is leaving the firm to start his own sports management business, and he’s taking people with him. [Bloomberg]

* “I have no apologies to make about anything I did.” Steven Donziger of Chevron/Ecuador infamy will be defending himself in court this week in what’s being called a legal cage match. [Wall Street Journal]

* “Touro is asking a judge to declare the school a diploma mill.” Irony alert: Touro wants Novus University Law School, a school supposedly conferring “worthless law degrees,” to be stopped. [New York Post]

* If you think SCOTUS abused its discretion in the early abortion cases, you’re going to love this book (affiliate link), a “cautionary tale” about consequences of decisions like Roe v. Wade. [Wall Street Journal]

Oyez, oyez, oyez! It’s the first week of October.

* Say what you will about Justice Scalia, but the man is hilarious — more funny than his four liberal colleagues combined, according to a statistical analysis of oral argument recordings. [New York Times]

* The government shutdown is slowing down the judicial confirmation process, already famous for its speed and efficiency. [The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times]

* More about news for Steven Donziger in his long-running battle with Chevron. Maybe it’s time to surrender, Steve? I hear Ecuador is a great place to retire. [New York Law Journal]

* Law firm merger mania continues, as Carlton Fields combines with Jorden Burt. [Carlton Fields (press release)]

* Herbert Smith Freehills says “you’re hired” to Scott Balber, the lawyer for Donald Trump who got mocked by Bill Maher on national television. [The Lawyer]

* You might see your dog as harmless and cuddly, but the law might see your dog as a weapon (and rightfully so, in my opinion). [New York Times via ABA Journal]

* Congratulations to all the winners of the FT’s Innovative Lawyers awards. [Financial Times]

* And congratulations to Heidi Wendel and Deirdre McEvoy, high-ranking government lawyers headed to Jones Day and Patterson Belknap, respectively. [New York Law Journal]

* Today the Supreme Court will hear argument in McCutcheon v. FEC, a major campaign finance case that some are calling “the next Citizens United.” Check out an interview with one of the lawyers behind it, after the jump. [UCTV]

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* Sri Srinivasan was sworn in as a member of the D.C. Circuit by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who called him “fair, faultless and fabulous.” The man must have great shoes. [Washington Post]

* Things aren’t going very well for Steven Donziger in the Chevron / Ecuador case now, but then again, they never are. The Second Circuit denied his bid to oust the judge on the case. [Bloomberg]

* Dewey know how much this failed firm’s ex-landlord wants from 450 of its former partners? Somewhere in the ballpark of $1.6 million to $45.45 million, so it could be painful. [Am Law Daily]

* Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton has already named a new chairman. Congrats to J. Henry Walker IV, a man whose name alone makes it sound like he should probably leading something. [Daily Report]

* Time is running out for prosecutors to bring charges against those connected to Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, but it looks like his niece, a Fordham Law grad, is in their sights. [DealBook / New York Times]

* The series finale of Breaking Bad airs on Sunday, and you must be very sad, so here are five compliance lessons to take away from the show. First and foremost, don’t ever hire a Pinkman. [Corporate Counsel]

* E.A. Sports and the Collegiate Licensing Company settled the suit filed against them by college athletes, leaving the NCAA to whine, moan, and “take this all the way to the Supreme Court.” [Birmingham News]

* George Zimmerman’s wife says her husband “went on a victory tour” without her, and has no idea where he is. Clue: maybe he was advising Cybill Shepherd for her role on Law & Order next week. [Miami Herald]

Paging the next Aquagirl! Where are you? (Click for the image for the post.)

* Obama might have found out about the IRS scandal “when it came out in the news,” but the Office of White House Counsel knew what was going on weeks ago. Hooray, a new reason for people to lose their sh*t. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness through ridiculously expensive litigation: making up almost two percent of our GDP, our legal system is the most costly on earth, which isn’t exactly something we should be bragging about. [Corporate Counsel]

* “It’s no surprise these lawyers would want to get off this sinking ship.” It looks like things are going just swimmingly for Steven Donziger now that John Keker’s out as his defense attorney in the Chevron fraud case. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* “Fantasy sports is usually the first and last thing I’ll do each day.” Here’s some proof that there’s such a thing as work/life balance in Biglaw… which is only applicable if you’re a partner. [Am Law Daily]

* Law school enrollment is down, and so is tuition revenue, so the legal academy is now selling new degrees. It’s only a matter of time before they market employment timeshares. [National Law Journal]

* On the bright side, if you’re still looking for a job, our own David Lat has some advice on how to get one (and how NOT to get one). We miss summer associates’ misbehavior. [U.S. News & World Report]

* Congrats are in order for this weekend’s graduates, including the first graduates of LMU’s embattled law school — they won’t let a lack of ABA accreditation rain on their parade. [Knoxville News Sentinel]

* It’s springtime, and the nation’s highest court is getting ready to drop some of its biggest decisions yet. If Tolkien had written this, Justice Kennedy would be the one to bear the One Vote. [UPI]

* But for SCOTUS to maintain legitimacy in the eyes of the people, its justices must do battle against a “modern-day tsunami of special interests.” How well are they doing? [National Law Journal]

* To answer that question, let’s look at their record. Political labels aside, thus far, the Roberts court has shaped up to be “the most pro-business court since the mid-1930s.” [New York Times]

* Meanwhile, Justice Thomas has been busy taking shots at President Obama, noting that he always knew the first black president had to be pre-screened by “the elites” and “the media.” [Mother Jones]

* Sometimes even federal prosecutors are willing to take pity upon rich old white men: Mel Weiss, formerly of Milberg LLP, won’t be returning to jail after his foray into DUI territory. [Am Law Daily]

* “Chevron can afford to litigate this case ‘until hell freezes over.’ But [Steven] Donziger can’t.” As it turns out, clients who can’t pay their bills are problematic for John Keker of Keker & Van Nest. [Reuters]

* Penn State Law is continuing with its plans to fleece students at two separately accredited sites, because clearly what the world needs right now is MOAR LAW SCHOOLS. [Centre Daily Times]

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