How the oil giant's RICO decision suffers from five fatal flaws
Judge Lewis A. Kaplan’s decision in favor of Chevron is deeply flawed both legally and factually and resulted from a bench trial overseen by a judge who repeatedly demonstrated his animus toward the Ecuadorian villagers and their counsel. From our perspective, Judge Kaplan’s decision has no credibility – it is void for lack of jurisdiction and ruthlessly distorts the truth. In an unprecedented display of judicial overreach, Judge Kaplan tried to use his Manhattan courtroom to reverse a unanimous decision from Ecuador’s Supreme Court involving questions of Ecuadorian law. Judge Kaplan’s decision is also in open defiance of a prior decision in the very same case from the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which barred him from ruling as he did on the validity of a foreign country’s judgment.
During the seven-week RICO trial, Judge Kaplan made a mockery of the rule of law. He refused to seat a jury and then let Chevron’s army of lawyers use the jury room as a private office. He then repeatedly denied the defendants the opportunity to present the voluminous and unassailable scientific evidence that proves the Ecuador judgment is valid. He also refused evidence that Chevron repeatedly attempted to corrupt and sabotage the proceedings in Ecuador because it knew it was losing on the merits. We seriously doubt Judge Kaplan wrote all of his 500-page decision after the close of evidence; he appears to have constructed it over the course of several months, cribbing most of the material from Chevron’s own briefs and exhibits while almost completely ignoring our own. Tellingly, Judge Kaplan refused to even read the official record from the Ecuador trial that was relied on by the Ecuadorian courts to find Chevron liable.
This document details five reasons why Judge Kaplan’s decision is fatally flawed, unlikely to survive appeal, and unlikely to have a wider impact on enforcement actions in other jurisdictions.