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HRD Attack

30 Jul 2019

Steven Donziger

Incident date
30 Jul 2019
Date accuracy
All Correct
Steven Donziger
Lawyers and judges
Lawsuits & regulatory action
Target: Individual
Location of Incident: United States of America
Texaco (part of Chevron) United States of America Oil, gas & coal
Chevron United States of America Oil, gas & coal
Other actors


Steven Donziger is a human-rights attorney who has led a lawsuit against Chevron before US courts for alleged damages caused in the Ecuadorian Amazon by Texaco, a company it acquired in 2001. Donziger has been fighting polluting American oil companies for nearly three decades on behalf of indigenous communities and peasant farmers in Ecuador. During the trial against Chevron, the US Judge Kaplan ordered Donziger to turn over decades of all client communication to Chevron, an act that according to Donziger infringes the attorney-client privilege. Donziger appealed what was, according to legal experts following the case, an unprecedented and illegal order. While Donziger’s appeal was pending, on July 30, 2019, Judge Kaplan charged him with criminal contempt for this principled stance, as well as his refusal to turn over his passport, his personal electronics and to refrain from seeking the collection of the original award against Chevron. When his criminal contempt charges against the environmental lawyer were ignored by the U.S. attorney’s office for over five years, Judge Kaplan appointed the private law firm of Seward & Kissel, to act in the name of the government to prosecute Donziger. Reportedly, neither the judge nor the law firm disclosed that Chevron has been a client of Seward & Kissel. As a result of these criminal charges, Donziger was subject to home confinement. Donziger argues that the action taken against him are part of a campaign by Chevron to intimidate critics of its environmental record.