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OP: Hello everyone!
DQar: I feel like this conversation is very one sided!
Luyten 726-8A: Martyrdom is odd
Luyten 726-8A: Hard to be neutral in such cases. Are there third parties (perhaps those tracing similar issues of environment + corruption elsewhere, or just government watchers) who are following the case -- but not party to it -- and could add their perspective?
DQar: are we going to have more of these conversations?
Chulak: I'm surprised that Donziger + those around haven't been able to mobilize support from environmental and human rights organizations (domestic and international) to create more pressure and visibility around the issue. Trying to understand why that hasn't happened yet, in order to see paths forward.
Luyten 726-8B: Hi all - Just as an attempt at responding to Chulak's comment: Prior to the RICO case, there was extensive support and also public commentary about the case. But as Steven was saying during the discussion, once you get past the outcome of the RICO case, you enter a period in which many of Steven's supporters were also aggressively targeted by Chevron and massive legal support structure, mainly operating out of the Gibson Dunn law firm. In addition - and we also briefly discussed this, once you get to a place where a Federal judge has pronounced on something, there is a kind of strange transition that occurs - almost akin to a conclusion that "he must have done something wrong - after all a Federal Judge [someone we should rely on as an unbiased broker of the truth] has concluded.
Luyten 726-8B: This has resulted in a significant chilling effect - for new-comer journalists to navigate the complexity of this story, they have to first get past the above conclusion and then they have to be motivated to read the hundreds of pages of the judgement, then to read the contemporary accounts of the conduct of the trial, and the various depositions that were submitted, etc - in all many hundreds, if not thousands of pages have to be digested and understood in context before you start to realise there is something seriously wrong. This is what I have been doing, as a neutral - in the sense that I had nothing to do with the case at the time, and have simply been an external observer and I suppose expert in the sense that I have investigated the corrupt oil sector and its activities for more than two decades, so I understand the sector well. This is also my job to look at the behaviour of this sector as we have been trying to create accountability systems these past two decades, precisely to stop this kind of thing. Remember, this sector has a century of going about its business by coopting and corrupting everything in its path, starting conflicts, fleecing countries and complicity in wholesale looting of states - this is its business model. Economists have a rather hideous term for this and other consequences of operations, which they refer to as "externalities" - they are external to the balance sheet. In other words, the very profitability of these companies (and other sectors too while I am at it) is more often than not predicated on dumping on someone, or somewhere else. My point is that we should not be surprised that a company like Chevron, coming out of a culture like this of impunity, should mount a legal fight back which is tantamount to ensuring its continued impunity for whatever it has done. The surprise - perhaps that is my naivety shining through - is that there is an army of lawyers and a whole legal system that, in the absence of a better explanation, is fundamentally designed to ensure this can happen. When I think back to Steven's bar grievance hearing, here he was forced to explain himself for supposed crimes, the "evidence" for which does not stack up, it was like attending a kangeroo court - in the back were lawyers for Chevron, seemingly swapping notes with the "prosecutor", whose every question as the days wore on appeared more desperate. If you think that the Chevron legal team coached their "star witness", who lied on the stand in the Rico case, for 53 days, it is hard not to conclude that some of those very lawyers shouldn't instead be the ones who should have been facing grievance committee. I hope this goes some way to expand on the outrageous behaviour of Chevron and its army of lawyers.
Luyten 726-8B: Luyton 726 8A - asked whether someone neutral could add something to the thread - this is the basis of my comment above. Further up DQuar suggests this is one-sided. As a neutral observer to this case, if you want to understand "one sided-ness", I highly recommend you seek out the public source documents on the case and some of the commentary from neutral human-rights oriented lawyers about the conduct of the case and the massive asymmetry of resources - then you will appreciate how one side can destroy the other, not on the basis of merit and argument and evidence, but through perjury and simply spending the other side out of existence. Justice, my friend, unfortunately, is something that is there for the rich to enjoy, and for all the rest to endure. Of course there are exceptions to this rule, and this is why we need to see an army of new, young, excited and determined lawyers who will fight the good fight and ensure we have genuine systems of accountability - so I encourage you with all my heart to take up this challenge. If ever there was a time when we needed such new, super smart and feisty nay-sayers, this is it! so please go for it - there is out there an army of NGOs and others, including journalists for whom this would be such a welcome development. My very best wishes to you all in these difficult times,