A newly added lawyer for Chevron Corp. foe Steven Donziger wasted no time Monday seeking a new judge for the disbarred human rights lawyer’s upcoming criminal contempt trial, asking a New York federal judge to institute a random reassignment because of the potential appearance of bias.
Donziger, facing misdemeanor criminal contempt charges for disobeying court orders in an underlying civil case brought by Chevron regarding a $9 billion judgment in Ecuador, has seen his trial delayed twice in recent months, in substantial part because of uncertainty surrounding how and by whom he would be defended. Trial is now set for Jan. 19.
Defense lawyer Ron Kuby, formally added Monday, immediately wrote to the first judge on the criminal contempt case, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, to request that he “transfer the case for assignment by lot” instead of leaving it with its current presider, U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska, whom Kuby says Kaplan personally chose. Donziger’s camp believes both judges’ behavior gives the potential appearance of bias.
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