August 7, 2019
The saga of suspended attorney Steven Donziger, recounted at length in previous editions of this column, continues. File #1:19-cr-00561-LAP-1 – Donziger, Steven is, to say the least, an interesting read.
On August 6 Mr. Donziger was arraigned on the criminal contempt charge leveled against him by Judge Lewis Kaplan of the Southern District of New York. According to court filings, the Southern District’s U.S. Attorney’s office had declined to prosecute Donziger, as it had insufficient resources to handle the case given its other current obligations. Judge Kaplan therefore referred allegations to the law firm of Seward & Kissel, for prosecution.
District Judge Loretta A. Preska, who presided over Mr. Donziger’s arraignment, announced that “[h]e is facing jail time.” Over objections by Donziger and his “standby” lawyer (he had no formal representation despite owning assets that he admitted might likely disqualify him from obtaining federal legal aid), the judge has required Donziger to surrender his passport. Mr. Donziger must also submit to GPS tracking and must only leave his apartment to attend to family obligations and to meet his attorney. I have heard that the accused has also been ordered to find two guarantors and to post hundreds of thousands of dollars of bonds as security for his appearance.
Judge Preska indicated that the evidence of criminal contempt was “very strong” and that Donziger, who has traveled to Ecuador seven times over the past two years, is a flight risk.