9/29/09 Update – For the second time in a month, Judge Juan Núñez has been removed from the Lago Agrio trial. The Provincial Court of Justice of Sucumbios decided on Monday to accept the recusal of Núñez. Chevron is continuing to push for the annulment of the judge’s previous decisions, including rulings to facilitate, as well as shield from scrutiny, the biased Cabrera process.
From 9/24/09 – In yet another twist in the Chevron case in Ecuador, Judge Juan Núñez has been reinstated as the presiding Judge in the Lago Agrio court.
Just four days after Chevron released a series of videos that depicted serious judicial misconduct, Ecuadorian Judge Juan Núñez was asked by Ecuador’s Prosecutor General to recuse himself from presiding over the Chevron environmental lawsuit in Lago Agrio.
However, this past Tuesday, the Ecuadorian court announced that Judge Núñez would resume presiding over the Chevron case on the basis that he had failed to provide any evidence to support his recusal. Meanwhile, the court has not ruled on the merits of Chevron’s petition for Judge Núñez to be removed from the case or the extensive evidence that Chevron provided of corruption, bias and prejudgment.
All along, Chevron has maintained that no judge who has participated in the type of meetings (shown here) could possibly have rendered a legitimate decision. Through his past rulings, Judge Núñez has demonstrated a clear bias in this case as he has consistently shielded the corrupt Cabrera process from any sort of reasonable inquiry and scrutiny. Judge Núñez has also made multiple prejudicial public statements clearly indicating that he lacks objectivity, is biased, and has prejudged the case. Now, with the release of the evidence that Judge Núñez was involved in inappropriate meetings connected to a bribery plot, there is further proof that he has prejudged the case.
The U.S. State Department, in its Investment Climate Statement on Ecuador released in February 2009, has found that Ecuador’s “courts are often susceptible to outside pressure and bribes. Neither Congressional oversight nor internal judicial branch mechanisms have shown a consistent capacity to effectively investigate and discipline allegedly corrupt judges.”
Should Judge Núñez continue to preside over the case, it would further validate the State Department’s findings and reinforce that the rule of law in Ecuador has been compromised.