Attorney Steven Donziger outside the Manhattan Federal Courthouse in New York, October 1, 2021. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

U.S. defends appointment of special prosecutors in Donziger case

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The U.S. Division of Justice on Friday instructed a federal appeals courtroom reviewing the contempt conviction of disbarred environmental lawyer Steven Donziger that it ought to reject his argument that his prosecution by personal attorneys violated the U.S. Structure’s appointments clause.

In a friend-of-the-court filing, the DOJ instructed the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court docket of Appeals that Donziger’s argument that “unsupervised” personal special prosecutors lacked the constitutional authority to prosecute him was “wrong in its inception.”

Donziger’s lawyer Martin Garbus stated the federal government’s place wasn’t a shock. The Justice Division didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark. Special prosecutor Rita Glavin, one of the personal attorneys who was appointed to prosecute the case, declined to remark.

Senior U.S. District Decide Loretta Preska in Manhattan discovered Donziger responsible of six counts of legal contempt following a Could bench trial. He was sentenced to 6 months in jail final month and has begun serving his sentence.

Donziger claims in his attraction that the special prosecutors who secured his contempt conviction lacked constitutional authority to pursue the fees underneath the appointments clause as a result of they had been appearing as officers of america with out increased authorities supervision.

However the DOJ in its submitting stated the special prosecutors weren’t appearing as officers of america as a result of they had been vested with federal authority on a short lived foundation.

“Accordingly, Donziger’s constitutional challenge should be rejected, irrespective of the supervision or lack thereof by the Department, because he has not challenged the appointment of an ‘officer’ in the first place,” Friday’s submitting stated.

The legal case in opposition to Donziger stemmed from post-judgment orders in a civil case in which a Manhattan decide, in 2014, barred enforcement in america of a $9.5 billion judgment in opposition to Chevron Corp that Donziger had gained in an Ecuadorian courtroom. The decide stated the Ecuadorian judgment had been secured by means of bribery, fraud and extortion.

Donziger, who was disbarred in New York final yr, was charged in 2019 with failing to show over his pc, telephones and different digital gadgets in relation to the Chevron case.

Whereas federal legal prosecutions are usually carried out by the DOJ, the federal government had declined a district courtroom referral to prosecute Donziger, resulting in appointment of the special prosecutors by the decide overseeing the Chevron case.

The case is United States of America v. Donziger, 2nd U.S. Circuit Court docket of Appeals, No. 21-2486.

For United States of America: Rita Glavin of Glavin

For Donziger: William Taylor of Zuckerman Spaeder

For DOJ: Robert Parker with the DOJ

Learn extra:

Donziger attraction to heart on special prosecutor position

Chevron foe Donziger surrenders after dropping bid to avert jail

Sebastien Malo

Sebastien Malo studies on environmental, local weather and vitality litigation. Attain him at [email protected]