When the first day of his trial finally arrived, New York lawyer Steven Donziger did not argue his own case. But he essentially argued the case for Chevron Corporation, which accuses him of orchestrating a scheme to extort $19 billion from the oil company by secretly rigging an Ecuadorian environmental lawsuit.
“So much evidence in this case comes out of Steven Donziger’s own mouth,” Randy Mastro of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher declared Tuesday in Chevron’s opening statement.
Repeatedly pointing at Donziger, who sat impassively with two children’s rainbow loom bracelets around his wrist, Mastro quoted from scenes and outtakes of the documentary film Crude, which Chevron obtained after a bitter First Amendment battle in 2010.
In the movie, as Donziger prepared to ambush an Ecuadorian judge in his chambers with a local TV news crew, he told the documentary maker: “This is something you would never do in the United States. But Ecuador, you know, this is how the game is played, it’s dirty.” Mastro quoted the clip in his opening and intoned: “That’s how Donziger played the game. Dirty.”