Judges Loretta Preska and Lewis Kaplan are Senior U.S. District Judges in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Preska received her Juris Doctor from Fordham University School of Law and Kaplan graduated from Harvard Law School.
Attorney Randy Mastro, partner in the New York office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, is Co-Chair of the Firm's Litigation Practice Group. He received his Juris Doctor from University of Pennsylvania Law school
Attorney Rita Glavin heads the law firm Glavin PLLC, is a Fordham Law School graduate and has been a Director for Fordham Law School's Alumni Association Board since 2008.
In 1993, environmental crusader and human rights attorney, Steven Donziger, toured the Amazon rainforest region in the city of Lago Agrio in Ecuador. There he witnessed the horrific sight of more than 900 toxic oil waste pits poisoning the land, water and air that are still prevalent today. For nearly three decades, Mr. Donziger has led the cause for justice for 30,000 Indigenous people after suing Chevron to clean up its massive pollution and provide aid to thousands of victims of its deadly negligence. In 2011 he won a $9.5 billion judgment against Chevron, which the Constitutional Court of Ecuador -- the country's highest court -- confirmed in 2018 in an 8-0 decision.
Chevron then falsely claimed the Ecuadorian judgment was based on fraud committed by Donziger, including his allegedly bribing Ecuadorian judges and ghostwriting a judgment and filed a RICO lawsuit against him. The RICO complaint was steered to accommodating Federal District Judge Lewis Kaplan. From day one, it became clear that Judge Kaplan was in the pocket of Chevron.
Donziger repeatedly requested to have his RICO trial decided by a jury but Kaplan ruled that he, like a dictator, would be the sole arbiter of justice. It became clear that Kaplan, a former defense lawyer for tobacco companies and a member of the right-wing Federalist Society, to which Chevron is a major donor, is heavily biased in favor of Chevron. Later it was learned that Kaplan has investments in Chevron, which constitutes a serious conflict of interest, that he did not disclose, and which according to the Wall Street Journal should have barred him from any involvement in the sham RICO case.
Judge Kaplan issued a 485-page decision against Donziger in 2014 and later ruled that Donziger personally owes Chevron millions of dollars in legal fees, costs and penalties; froze his bank accounts and ordered him to turn over his cellphone and computer for inspection. Knowing Judge Kaplan was on a witch-hunt, Donziger rightfully refused because doing so would reveal years of attorney-client privileged communications and put his clients' lives at risk. Kaplan also demanded Chevron's toxic pollution victims in Ecuador pay Chevron hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees!
Kaplan then charged Donziger with various counts of criminal contempt, but the U.S. Attorney's office for the Southern District of New York declined to prosecute him. In response, Kaplan, known for his gruff, sarcastic and dictatorial demeanor, appointed a biased special private prosecutor, Rita Glavin, representing the Seward and Kissel law firm, at great expense to taxpayers, to prosecute Mr. Donziger. Only months later did Seward & Kissel disclose that Chevron has been one of their clients. Kaplan then transferred the criminal matter to his corporate friendly colleague Judge Loretta Preska, a member of the New York Advisory Board of the Chevron-friendly Federalist Society. Like Kaplan in the civil RICO case, Preska refused Donziger a jury trial.
Judge Lewis Kaplan and Judge Loretta Preska serve as puppets for the Chevron board's unconscionable efforts to demonize Mr. Donziger and to destroy his reputation and law practice in order to shield the company from accountability.
The International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) reported on September 1, 2020 that dozens of legal organizations around the world representing more than 500,000 attorneys, along with over 200 individual lawyers, submitted a judicial complaint documenting "a series of shocking violations of the judicial code of conduct by United States Judge Lewis A. Kaplan targeting human rights lawyer Steven Donziger" after he helped Indigenous peoples win a landmark $9.5 billion judgment against Chevron. "We wrote this judicial complaint after studying the record in this case and coming to the conclusion that Judge Kaplan has been acting as a de facto lawyer for Chevron in this litigation," said Jeanne Mirer, the President of the IADL.
On September 29, 2021 the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights, the top human rights legal body in the world, ruled that Judges Kaplan and Preska displayed a "staggering lack of objectivity and impartiality" against Mr. Donziger that violated binding provisions of international law including the right to a fair trial and impartial judge and requested the United States government release him immediately and pay compensation for a deprivation of liberty.
Both Judges Kaplan and Preska deserve to be removed from the bench for their shameful behavior. Because of them and the policies of Chevron's board, thousands of Ecuadorians have died and continue to suffer increased rates of cancer, miscarriages, birth defects and other chronic health problems. And the area's biodiversity remains at high risk while criminal Chevron rakes in billions of dollars.
It's a complete travesty of justice that carved in stone above the Federal Courthouse entrance for jurors in Manhattan are the words: "The Honorable Judge Loretta Preska Pavillion." Yet for years she has brought shame into our federal court. The Steven Donziger case is a prime example of her nefarious behavior. Judge Loretta Preska's name should be sand blasted off the Courthouse building!
Randy Mastro was Deputy Mayor under former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Mr. Giuliani later became President Donald Trump's disgraced personal lawyer.
Chevron hired Mastro to file a SLAPP lawsuit under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) as the first step to waging a ruthless assault against Steven Donziger and the Ecuadorian people. SLAPP stands for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. Such lawsuits are used by corrupt corporations to intimidate and stop a person or group from speaking out against their unethical and criminal activities, especially as they relate to environmental devastation and human rights abuses.
England's High Court of Justice has censured Gibson Dunn for fabricating evidence, while in the United States, judges in California, Montana, and New York have censured and fined Gibson Dunn for misconduct including witness tampering, obstruction, intimidation, and what one judge called "legal thuggery."
It should be noted that lack of ethics and criminal behavior are synonymous with Gibson Dunn, Chevron and Callaway Golf, all headquartered in California. The law firm and two companies were intimately connected through board interlocks during the years that Callaway Golf orchestrated the theft of PGA Professional Clark Collins Perfect Putter invention trade secrets. Sales of the putter have exceeded a billion dollars. The greatest theft in sports history is the subject of Mr. Collins' book, The Great Callaway Putter Heist: A True Story of Corporate Greed and Corruption in the World of Golf.