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Dear Friends,
I hoped I never would have to write this email -- but I must given the disturbing events of the last few
days that might end up forcing me to prison as soon as two weeks from now if I cannot stop a non-
jury "trial" that Judges Lewis A. Kaplan and Loretta Preska are trying to hold on Sept. 9 in the middle
of the COVID pandemic.
While thousands of defendants are incarcerated pre-trial in New York and elsewhere facing felony
charges while courthouses are largely closed, these judges want to make my misdemeanor case the
first criminal trial in New York since the pandemic hit in March -- putting lives at risk for a relatively
minor case that in normal circumstances never leads to jail time. To say this is being set up as a
railroading of a human rights lawyer might be the understatement of the year.
Critically, Judge Preska last week disqualified my lead lawyers Rick Friedman and Zoe Littlepage from
the case on the eve of trial over a minor issue related to a conflict affecting one of the six counts
against me. My other lawyers (all of whom are working pro bono) cannot travel safely to New York to
be with me because of the pandemic; nor can many of my witnesses come to court to help me
defend myself.
If this trial goes forward as planned on Sept. 9, I likely will be alone in the courtroom with no way to
defend myself in the absence of my lead lawyers.
Judge Preska rejected our proposal to postpone the trial until at least December so all can
safely attend and so my right to a fair trial under the Constitution can be protected. She also assigned
a new lawyer to represent me who cannot possibly be prepared by Sept. 9 even if I wanted to work
with him. (He represented me in this case before withdrawing without notice a few months ago).
This appears to be part of a plan to obtain my conviction without due process of law. Judge Kaplan
now controls the charging apparatus (he charged me after the U.S. Attorney rejected the case); the
judge (he appointed Judge Preska, violating rules requiring random assignment of cases); he named
the private prosecutor from a law firm that has financial ties to Chevron; and now, to close the loop,
he is assigning me my own defense lawyer and denying my choice of counsel! This is not how it is
supposed to happen in a rule of law country like the United States.
Once the case ends, Judge Preska will have the option to put in jail immediately to start serving a six-
month sentence on top of the 13 months I have been detained at home. She can make me serve this
time during my appeal which won't be decided until well after any prison term has ended. I believe
she is prepared to do this despite the fact the longest sentence ever imposed on a lawyer convicted
of a contempt charge in New York is three months of home confinement.
Judge Kaplan, a former tobacco industry lawyer, has been facilitating Chevron's attacks against me
for years after I helped win the $9.5b pollution judgment against the company in 2011. He charged
me with misdemeanor "criminal" contempt in 2018 when I challenged his unprecedented order that I
turn over my computer and cell phone to Chevron -- an order that clearly violates the sacrosanct
attorney-client privilege. My argument on the appeal of that order is scheduled for Sept. 15. This
might explain the rush to trial on Sept. 9. Judge Kaplan no doubt wants me to be a "convicted
criminal" when that case gets argued.
Here is how you can help:
1) If you can, please donate to my legal defense fund at www.donzigerdefense.com. If I go to jail, my
lawyers will have to fight to get me out. My family will have to survive. We need funds urgently. (For
those who have already given, our deep thanks.)
2) If you cannot give, please go to our website at makechevroncleanup.com to join the campaign
and send an email to Congress to investigate the many irregularities afflicting this case.
3) If the trial happens on Sept. 9, please come and bear witness at the federal courthouse in lower
Manhattan if you can. Without a public presence, there will be little if any accountability. The
address of the courthouse is 500 Pearl Street. I will give more details as we get closer to the date --
and it might be possible to watch some or all of the trial online. (DO NOT COME TO COURT UNTIL
WE CONFIRM DATE.)
On the "good news" front, we are getting some amazing press. Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Chris
Hedges (formerly of the New York Times) posted this great article that includes a long interview with
me; seven prominent lawyers have formed a trial monitoring committee to call out the many due
process violations in my case; and my own team of lawyers have acted courageously in calling for a
postponement of the trial due to the pandemic.
Just today, more than 200 lawyers and 37 legal organizations filed an ethics complaint against Judge
Kaplan that is breathtaking in its level of detail.
One member of the case monitoring committee, Jeannie Mirer, is President of the International
Association of Democratic Lawyers. She said: "The campaign of judicial and corporate harassment
being waged against Steven Donziger is chilling in scope and intensity. We want all parties to know
that from this point forward we will be watching."
Please understand how unprecedented it is for the government to give a private corporation (via its
law firm) the judicial power to prosecute a lawyer who beat it in court. I am the first lawyer in U.S.
history detained prior to trial for a contempt charge. This is a direct assault on my rights as well as
those of thousands of Indigenous peoples and local residents in the Amazon who are still being
poisoned by oil pollution and have no funds to remediate their ancestral lands. (For background, see
this article.)
In closing, please know we are deeply appreciative of your support. If you have any questions, please
reach out to me via this email or text me. The situation is fluid. I will keep you posted and let you
know where things stand prior to Sept. 9.
Hugs to everybody,
Steven Donziger
Here are some more background articles:
Two retired federal judges publicly criticize Judges Kaplan and Preska for running an unfair judicial
process against me; they also urge my immediate release:
https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5ac2615b8f5130fda4340fcb/t/5f0dc3fd6a8632767c2de633/1
594737663061/2020-07-13-law360-gertner-bennett.pdf
Statement of support from 29 Nobel laureates:
https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5ac2615b8f5130fda4340fcb/t/5e9890f6d641a53d544792d6/
1587056892216/2020-04-nobel-laureates-statement.pdf
Letter from 475 lawyers and bar associations that concludes my detention is illegal:
https://iadllaw.org/2020/05/over-475-lawyers-legal-organizations-and-human-rights-defenders-
support-lawyer-steven-donziger/
Israeli environmentalists are trying to block Chevron from buying the country's gas assets until it pays
the Ecuador judgment:
https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5ac2615b8f5130fda4340fcb/t/5f1eff219fe42f649e0514f6/15
95866914406/2020-07-27-zalul-alistair-letter.pdf

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Lettre ouverte de steven donziger

  • 1. Dear Friends, I hoped I never would have to write this email -- but I must given the disturbing events of the last few days that might end up forcing me to prison as soon as two weeks from now if I cannot stop a non- jury "trial" that Judges Lewis A. Kaplan and Loretta Preska are trying to hold on Sept. 9 in the middle of the COVID pandemic. While thousands of defendants are incarcerated pre-trial in New York and elsewhere facing felony charges while courthouses are largely closed, these judges want to make my misdemeanor case the first criminal trial in New York since the pandemic hit in March -- putting lives at risk for a relatively minor case that in normal circumstances never leads to jail time. To say this is being set up as a railroading of a human rights lawyer might be the understatement of the year. Critically, Judge Preska last week disqualified my lead lawyers Rick Friedman and Zoe Littlepage from the case on the eve of trial over a minor issue related to a conflict affecting one of the six counts against me. My other lawyers (all of whom are working pro bono) cannot travel safely to New York to be with me because of the pandemic; nor can many of my witnesses come to court to help me defend myself. If this trial goes forward as planned on Sept. 9, I likely will be alone in the courtroom with no way to defend myself in the absence of my lead lawyers. Judge Preska rejected our proposal to postpone the trial until at least December so all can safely attend and so my right to a fair trial under the Constitution can be protected. She also assigned a new lawyer to represent me who cannot possibly be prepared by Sept. 9 even if I wanted to work with him. (He represented me in this case before withdrawing without notice a few months ago). This appears to be part of a plan to obtain my conviction without due process of law. Judge Kaplan now controls the charging apparatus (he charged me after the U.S. Attorney rejected the case); the judge (he appointed Judge Preska, violating rules requiring random assignment of cases); he named the private prosecutor from a law firm that has financial ties to Chevron; and now, to close the loop, he is assigning me my own defense lawyer and denying my choice of counsel! This is not how it is supposed to happen in a rule of law country like the United States. Once the case ends, Judge Preska will have the option to put in jail immediately to start serving a six- month sentence on top of the 13 months I have been detained at home. She can make me serve this time during my appeal which won't be decided until well after any prison term has ended. I believe she is prepared to do this despite the fact the longest sentence ever imposed on a lawyer convicted of a contempt charge in New York is three months of home confinement. Judge Kaplan, a former tobacco industry lawyer, has been facilitating Chevron's attacks against me for years after I helped win the $9.5b pollution judgment against the company in 2011. He charged me with misdemeanor "criminal" contempt in 2018 when I challenged his unprecedented order that I turn over my computer and cell phone to Chevron -- an order that clearly violates the sacrosanct attorney-client privilege. My argument on the appeal of that order is scheduled for Sept. 15. This might explain the rush to trial on Sept. 9. Judge Kaplan no doubt wants me to be a "convicted criminal" when that case gets argued. Here is how you can help:
  • 2. 1) If you can, please donate to my legal defense fund at www.donzigerdefense.com. If I go to jail, my lawyers will have to fight to get me out. My family will have to survive. We need funds urgently. (For those who have already given, our deep thanks.) 2) If you cannot give, please go to our website at makechevroncleanup.com to join the campaign and send an email to Congress to investigate the many irregularities afflicting this case. 3) If the trial happens on Sept. 9, please come and bear witness at the federal courthouse in lower Manhattan if you can. Without a public presence, there will be little if any accountability. The address of the courthouse is 500 Pearl Street. I will give more details as we get closer to the date -- and it might be possible to watch some or all of the trial online. (DO NOT COME TO COURT UNTIL WE CONFIRM DATE.) On the "good news" front, we are getting some amazing press. Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Chris Hedges (formerly of the New York Times) posted this great article that includes a long interview with me; seven prominent lawyers have formed a trial monitoring committee to call out the many due process violations in my case; and my own team of lawyers have acted courageously in calling for a postponement of the trial due to the pandemic. Just today, more than 200 lawyers and 37 legal organizations filed an ethics complaint against Judge Kaplan that is breathtaking in its level of detail. One member of the case monitoring committee, Jeannie Mirer, is President of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. She said: "The campaign of judicial and corporate harassment being waged against Steven Donziger is chilling in scope and intensity. We want all parties to know that from this point forward we will be watching." Please understand how unprecedented it is for the government to give a private corporation (via its law firm) the judicial power to prosecute a lawyer who beat it in court. I am the first lawyer in U.S. history detained prior to trial for a contempt charge. This is a direct assault on my rights as well as those of thousands of Indigenous peoples and local residents in the Amazon who are still being poisoned by oil pollution and have no funds to remediate their ancestral lands. (For background, see this article.) In closing, please know we are deeply appreciative of your support. If you have any questions, please reach out to me via this email or text me. The situation is fluid. I will keep you posted and let you know where things stand prior to Sept. 9. Hugs to everybody, Steven Donziger Here are some more background articles: Two retired federal judges publicly criticize Judges Kaplan and Preska for running an unfair judicial process against me; they also urge my immediate release:
  • 3. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5ac2615b8f5130fda4340fcb/t/5f0dc3fd6a8632767c2de633/1 594737663061/2020-07-13-law360-gertner-bennett.pdf Statement of support from 29 Nobel laureates: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5ac2615b8f5130fda4340fcb/t/5e9890f6d641a53d544792d6/ 1587056892216/2020-04-nobel-laureates-statement.pdf Letter from 475 lawyers and bar associations that concludes my detention is illegal: https://iadllaw.org/2020/05/over-475-lawyers-legal-organizations-and-human-rights-defenders- support-lawyer-steven-donziger/ Israeli environmentalists are trying to block Chevron from buying the country's gas assets until it pays the Ecuador judgment: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5ac2615b8f5130fda4340fcb/t/5f1eff219fe42f649e0514f6/15 95866914406/2020-07-27-zalul-alistair-letter.pdf