Chevron Corporation and its army of lawyers keep piling on more evidence of fraud and judicial corruption in their U.S. racketeering case against the plaintiffs lawyers who won a $19 billion environmental judgment against the oil giant in Ecuador. But according to counsel for the Amazonian plaintiffs at Patton Boggs, the real problem isn’t the judges in Ecuador. It’s the one in New York. In a 47-page petition for a writ of mandamus filed on Wednesday, Patton Boggs’s James Tyrrell Jr. urged the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to vacate several recent orders by U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan, and to replace him with a different judge. According to the petition, Kaplan is hell-bent on circumventing a January 2012 ruling by the Second Circuit that it’s not up to him to decide whether the Ecuadorean court’s $19 billion judgment deserves worldwide recognition. "[T]he district court has engaged in a systematic, pervasive, biased, and disrespectful effort to evade and defy this Court’s instructions," Tyrrell wrote in the mandamus petition. "The district court is again attempting to engage in an unlawful race to res judicata with courts presiding over the [Amazonian plaintiffs'] judgment recognition actions in Canada, Argentina, and Brazil, thereby attempting to deprive them of, or at least interfere with, their consideration of enforcement based on their own laws." The Second Circuit brief comes just days after a different but overlapping group of lawyers for the Amazonian plaintiffs petitioned Judge Kaplan to amend the schedule in the district court case, complaining that Chevron was using its lawyers at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and dozens of other firms to "bulldoze a result." And it comes just weeks after Chevron produced explosive new claims of alleged bribery by the plaintiffs and evidence of judicial ghostwriting by the Amazonian court. Kaplan issued an injunction in 2011 blocking the Ecuadorian claimants from enforcing their judgment abroad. He ruled that Chevron would likely prevail on its fraud claims, citing evidence that U.S. plaintiffs lawyer Steven Donzinger and his allies tried to influence a judge and helped prepare a supposedly independent expert’s report. The Second Circuit reversed the injunction in January 2012, noting that the Ecuadorean plaintiffs hadn’t sought to enforce their judgment in New York and concluding that Kaplan’s approach "would unquestionably provoke extensive friction between legal systems."
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