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Amicus briefs filed by business leaders, scholars, human rights experts and legal experts in support of Chevron

On October 8, a broad and diverse collection of organizations and legal experts filed Amicus briefs in support of Chevron’s arguments in the Chevron vs. Donziger appeal.  The Amici included a leading women’s rights legal organization, a group of human rights experts, one of the authors of the original RICO act, Latin American legal scholars, business groups and the Washington Legal Foundation.  These briefs were filed with the Second Circuit along with the amicus request to submit a brief.

Some highlights of the arguments made include:

Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Jurists

A brief submitted by international jurists whose careers have been devoted in large part to the protection of human rights or to efforts to combat public corruption. They argue that Donziger cannot claim that his advocacy for human rights justifies his corrupt misconduct.  If the District Court’s findings of fact are true, then Donziger has damaged the cause of human rights.

“Advocates for human rights do not advance human rights by violating them, and the corrupt pattern of fraud, extortion, and bribery described by the District Court, if accurate, denies the fundamental human rights to due process of law and a fair trial.” pp. 5-6

“At bottom, Appellants’ contention, that judicial review of their conduct of the Ecuadorian litigation is a distraction from the Ecuadorian plaintiffs’ claims for relief, implies that corrupt means are justified in order to obtain a court decision that ostensibly protects the human rights of those on whose behalf those means are employed. That notion is backwards: Corrupting a court to obtain a result favorable to human rights ends by undermining human rights.” p. 25

Legal Momentum

Legal Momentum is a leading non-profit civil rights organization committed to defending women’s rights through legal advocacy and litigation.  Their brief argues that permanent injunctive relief under the RICO statute is a remedy critical to civil rights organizations fighting to stop a proven wrongdoer from continuing to cause unlawful, irreparable harm.

“New forms of abuse and criminal activity continue to emerge today to threaten the economic and physical safety of women and girls. Human trafficking is just one current, but horrific example. Erasing the possibility of injunctive relief under RICO would significantly impair the efforts of brave victims and civil rights organizations to seek personal safety and protection, and basic justice, through the U.S. court system.” pp. 4-5.

“In sum, RICO injunctions for private parties serve a key role in the statute’s scheme of remedies: they allow plaintiffs to secure reasonably obtainable relief against later-arising recurrences of abhorrent conducted deemed illegal by a federal judge. Taking that relief for private plaintiffs off the table in all cases would have wide-ranging and devastating implications far beyond this appeal.” p.17

Professor Robert Blakey

Blakey is the William J. and Dorothy K. O’Neill Emeritus Professor of Law at the Notre Dame Law School, where he has taught federal criminal law for over thirty years. Blakey was also the Chief Counsel of the Subcommittee on Criminal Laws and Procedures of the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary when the Subcommittee processed the legislation that became RICO in 1969 and 1970.

“As the Court observed, the contention that RICO is limited to ‘organized crime’ finds no support in the Act’s text, and it is at ‘odds with the tenor of its legislative history.’ RICO is similar to other legislation Congress has enacted as general reform – aimed at a specific target, but not limited to that specific target.”

To learn more about the organizations who have filed these Amicus briefs, you can read this helpful document that summarizes the organizations, their interest in the case, the signatories, a summary of the brief and some key excerpts. Click here to read the document.


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