Tag Archives: USA

USA/Ecuador/Canada: Peter Foster: Corruption, Pink Floyd and Aboriginal rights walk into Banff’s ‘post-normal’ law conference

November 9, 2018

The conference seems to represent what might be described as ‘post-normal law.’ It is the law of taking sides

This weekend sees a conference in Banff that should be of interest to all those concerned about the rule of law, and the forces undermining it. Titled “Indigenous Solutions for Environmental Challenges,” the conference’s “context” is the US$8.6 billion (at last count) judgment in an Ecuadorean court against U.S. oil company Chevron. According to the conference’s website, the Chevron case will be used “to consider the critical role of judicial remedies for violations of the rights of indigenous and other affected peoples… both in Canada and beyond.”

With the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion on judicial hold, and capital evacuating the Canadian oil patch due to legislative uncertainties, the topic is timely. But if “hard cases make bad law,” then corrupt cases threaten very bad law indeed.

Two U.S. courts have determined that the Ecuadorean decision was the result of a fraud engineered by U.S. lawyer, Steve Donziger (who will appear at the conference). Donziger claims this is all a Chevron campaign to “vilify him” for innocent “errors in judgment.” Earlier this year, Donziger’s licences to practice law in the U.S. were suspended.

Conference organizer Kathleen Mahoney, a law professor at the University of Calgary, told me this week in an email that she denies the conference is about applying “pressure to bear on Chevron to come to the table,” but those are the words used more than a year ago in her letter to Donziger proposing the conference, and suggesting he support it (the letter is reprinted below). The letter, part of a contempt motion filed by Chevron against Donziger, redacted until recently, was last month ordered fully disclosed by a New York court. The court exhibit shows Donziger passed the letter to colleagues with the comment: “Please do not send around. This is potentially breakthrough stuff…. Kathleen is (former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations) Phil Fontaine’s wife and she is a major force in Canada as a human rights lawyer and activist.”

Peter Foster: Corruption, Pink Floyd and Aboriginal rights walk into Banff’s ‘post-normal’ law conference

LILLEY: Stink of corruption hangs over environmental conference








USA: Center for Constitutional Rights Demands Malicious Charges Against Board Member Leonardo Aldridge Be Dropped

October 31, 2018

Center for Constitutional Rights

The Center for Constitutional Rights was recently made aware of the unjust indictment of its board member, civil rights and criminal defense attorney Leonardo Aldridge, on malicious and unjust charges stemming from a homicide police investigation that occurred in San Juan, Puerto Rico on September 21, 2018.

Mr. Aldridge was in the process of counseling a client of his who the police had already questioned as part of what was then a homicide investigation. Rather than being permitted to conclude that counseling, Mr. Aldridge was unlawfully arrested by officers at the scene.

We are deeply concerned about the authorities’ unlawful interference with people’s access and ability to consult with lawyers. The right to consult with a lawyer in matters such as this are basic and fundamental. That the authorities not only impeded that lawful, constitutional process in this case, but also arrested and indicted Mr. Aldridge for seeking to confer with his client is an outrage to the constitutional protections that govern the sacrosanct lawyer-client relationship and the right to counsel.



https://www.elvocero.com/ley-y-orden/levantan-expediente-de-abogado-leo-aldridge/article_afbf9720-c28b-11e8-b5b4-73f5c18c1451.html (ESPANOL)

https://www.primerahora.com/noticias/policia-tribunales/nota/leoaldridgeesdejadoenlibertad-1303454/ (ESPANOL)

USA: Judge orders detention of public defender for ‘acting like I’m some kind of idiot’

October 30, 2018

A Wisconsin judge ordered a short detention for an assistant public defender last Friday, saying he was in contempt for “acting like I’m some kind of idiot.”

Judge David Borowski of Milwaukee County ordered the detention of Puck Tsai after the defense lawyer argued against modifying the signature bond for his client, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which obtained a transcript of the hearing.

Tsai’s client was accused of homicide by negligent operation of a motor vehicle in August. One of the conditions of his release is that he remain free of drugs and alcohol. Prosecutors asked for cash bail after a urine test showed a high level of water, which can be an indication of attempted tampering, according to the Journal Sentinel account.

Borowski said during the hearing that, if anything, the prosecution should be seeking a higher amount. “This is a homicide,” Borowski said. “I’m not playing games in this case.”

Tsai said the victim was at fault in the accident, and his client has defenses. Borowski countered that defenses don’t affect a bail decision. “Let’s all stop talking,” the judge said.

The defendant returned to his seat, but Tsai remained standing. “Is there something you want to say,” Borowski asked. “Or do you want to go into custody?”

Tsai then said his client is still innocent at this stage of the case.

“No kidding. I get that. Sit down,” Borowski said and ordered Tsai into detention.

“Rolling your eyes, throwing your hands in the air, acting like I’m some kind of idiot gets you locked up for contempt,” Borowski said.

Tsai returned to the courtroom after his supervisors spoke with Borowski. Tsai apologized and Borowski said he could be released.






USA/Germany: Book about Jewish lawyers targeted in Nazi Germany resonates today

November 2018

As Adolf Hitler rose to power in Nazi Germany, the first casualty was the rule of law. The Third Reich’s ensuing purge included systematically targeting “undesirables,” including Jewish lawyers, crippling their ability to practice law.

Lawyers Without Rights: The Fate of Jewish Lawyers in Berlin after 1933 by Simone Ladwig-Winters is a chilling portrait, through photos and narratives, of how Jewish lawyers and jurists were degraded and debarred as the Holocaust began. Attorneys were arrested, imprisoned or forced to flee the country.

The book has a directory of 1,404 attorneys of Jewish origin during the war.


The book, first published in 2007, describes the terrors experienced by Jewish attorneys, including Alfred Apfel, who was arrested and later fled to France after being labeled one of the “traitors to the German people”; Ludwig Barbasch, imprisoned for six months and stripped of his license; and Hans Litten, who spent years in concentration camps until his suicide.

Lawyers Without Rights is about remembrance and honoring Jewish lawyers during this time, and it is also a cautionary tale for the world today. To reach a wider audience, the book was translated from German by the American Bar Association this year in partnership with the German Federal Bar.

“Too many non-Jewish lawyers in Germany during the Nazi era stood by and were not vigilant,” says ABA President Bob Carlson. “That is the first lesson from the 1930s. We cannot do nothing. The slippery slope starts when the rights of lawyers to practice their profession and defend against oppression are compromised.”

The German Federal Bar created the “Lawyers Without Rights: Jewish Lawyers in Germany under the Third Reich” exhibit in the late 1990s after researching the fate of Jewish lawyers during World War II.










ABA Journal - When Lawyers Disappeared

USA/Ecuador: Chevron Intimidation Led Boston Mother to Sign False Affidavit Attacking Landmark Ecuador Pollution Judgment

October 25, 2018

Chevron Feeling “Heat” From Asset Seizure Action In Canada As Company Lawyers Try to Pressure Witnesses Based On False Evidence

In a stunning confession, a Boston-area financial manager and mother of four who raised funds for Amazon Indigenous peoples has admitted under oath that Chevron lawyers successfully intimidated her to sign an affidavit with false statements designed by the oil giant to undermine its $9.5 billion Ecuador pollution liability.

Chevron’s pressure tactics were directed against Katie Sullivan, a business owner who had spent months successfully assisting Ecuadorian Indigenous and farmer villagers raise funds to challenge the oil giant. They also come at a time when the company is under enormous pressure in Canada as the Ecuadorian villagers try to seize critical company assets, an effort backed by the nation’s largest Indigenous federation (Assembly of First Nations) which represents 653 tribes. In addition, 36 institutional Chevron shareholders in the U.S. recently challenged CEO Michael Wirth over his mishandling of the Ecuador litigation.

Sullivan, whose owns a company called Streamline Family Office that manages assets for wealthy families, testified in a sworn deposition on September 28 that she lived in “fear” from Chevron before signing an affidavit written entirely by company lawyers at the Gibson Dunn firm who have been directed by Wirth to retaliate against the Ecuadorians and their legal advisors, primarily Harvard Law graduate and New York human rights advocate Steven R. Donziger. Chevron has used false testimony, witness bribery, and fraudulent evidence to try to taint Donziger and other lawyers for the Ecuadorians, according to evidence summarized in a criminal referral letter against the company submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Donziger said Chevron subpoenaed Sullivan last March for documents as part of its long-running campaign to seek “dirt” on him and supporters for the Indigenous peoples. Chevron then forced Sullivan to sit for two sworn depositions. It was during the second of these that she admitted under questioning from Donziger that Chevron lawyers pressured her to sign off on several false statements, all an apparent violation of ethics rules governing attorney conduct.

In her sworn testimony on Sept. 28, Sullivan made the following admissions under oath:

**That Chevron lawyers Robert Blume and Anne Champion were part of a team from the Gibson Dunn law firm that wrote the entirety of her 23-page affidavit.

**That Chevron lawyers failed to incorporate several of her requested changes to the affidavit before she signed it under pressure just minutes before the start of her second deposition while “praying” the company’s litigation against her would end.

**That her affidavit contained multiple misleading or false statements written by Chevron lawyers intended to taint Donziger for which she possessed no knowledge, and which were demonstrably false.






USA/Ecuador: Major Environmental Groups Back Steven Donziger in Battle With Chevron Over Historic Ecuador Pollution Judgment

October 9, 2018

With Canada’s Supreme Court backing Ecuadorian Indigenous peoples against Chevron, some of the world’s leading environmental groups have thrown their support behind leading U.S. human rights attorney Steven Donziger as the oil giant continues its unprecedented retaliation campaign targeting those who held it accountable for the dumping of billions of gallons of toxic oil waste in the Amazon.

Donziger is widely considered the target of the most well-financed and vicious corporate retaliation campaign in history, with Chevron spending at least $2 billion on 60 law firms to try to undermine him with an avowed “demonization” campaign after he helped Ecuadorian Indigenous peoples and farmer communities win a $9.5 billion pollution judgment in Ecuador. To retaliate, Chevron used fraudulent evidence from a paid witness to obtain a non-monetary “fraud” judgment from a sole U.S. trial judge against Donziger.

That decision, from Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, has been rejected or ignored by 17 appellate judges in Ecuador and 12 in Canada, including by the entire Supreme Courts of both countries. Chevron had fought to have the environmental case heard in Ecuador, where the company was convicted in 2011 of dumping billions of gallons of cancer-causing oil waste that poisoned huge areas of the Amazon and decimated Indigenous groups and farmer communities with a public health catastrophe. (Here is a summary of the evidence against Chevron.)

In the last two weeks, London-based Global Witness put out an alert in support of Donziger, as did U.S.-based Amazon Watch and Rainforest Action Network.






Nigeria/USA: Nigerian Embassy In U.S Allegedly Targets Human Rights Lawyer For Criticizing Buhari

September 26, 2018

Image result for Emmanuel Ogebe

A US-based Nigerian human rights lawyer, Emmanuel Ogebe, has alleged efforts by the Nigerian Embassy in Washington DC to have his passport withdrawn over his constant criticism of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government.

According to Ogebe, documents filed in an Abuja court show that the government wants his passport withdrawn for allegedly “trash-talking Nigeria” on social media.

The lawyer, who is the special counsel, Justice for Jos Project, said in a press release that part of “the document was a letter from the embassy dated June 2, 2016, addressed to the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja, Nigeria.

“In it [the court document] the embassy claimed that “Mr Ogebe derived pleasure from trash-talking Nigeria on social media in the chambers of the United States Congress and other public places across the United States.

“The embassy letter then stated further that, “Going forward, to prevent Mr Ogebe, who is a Nigerian citizen, from making further derogatory comments that are inimical to the image of Nigeria, Government May consider taking punitive action against him, including withdrawal of his privilege to carry a Nigerian passport.”

It was signed by the Charge D’affaires, Hakeem Balogun

Reacting, Ogebe said while he had long known and was fully aware of the alleged hostile activities of the Nigerian government through its embassy in the US to persecute him, it was still “shocking to see in writing the extremes to which they would go and the extent of their desperation.”