Chevron foe Donziger surrenders after losing bid to avert prison

Attorney Donziger outside Manhattan Federal Courthouse in New York City
Attorney Steven Donziger, who faced sentencing Friday for criminal contempt stemming from his decades-long legal battle with Chevron Corp, embraces his son Matthew after his hearing outside Manhattan Federal Courthouse in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., October 1, 2021. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
  • Steven Donziger in federal prison custody, lawyer says
  • Appeals court denied bid for bail or to pause sentence

Oct 27 - Disbarred lawyer Steven Donziger, who was convicted of criminal contempt after a decades-long legal battle with Chevron Corp over rainforest pollution in Ecuador, surrendered to authorities Wednesday after losing his bid to stay out of prison during his appeal, his lawyer said.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday denied Donziger's request to delay his six-month prison term or grant him bail as he challenges his conviction and sentence. His lawyer Ronald Kuby said in court documents Wednesday afternoon that he had surrendered and was in the custody of the federal prison in Danbury, Connecticut.

"It is sadly typical of the degraded quality of justice in this case that the only way Mr. Donziger could prove he was not a flight risk was to show up and be imprisoned," Kuby said in a statement.

Rita Glavin of Glavin PLLC, a lawyer appointed as special prosecutor in the case, declined to comment.

Donziger is appealing his July conviction for criminal contempt and Oct. 1 sentencing to six months' prison by a federal judge in Manhattan.

The contempt case stems from post-judgment orders in a civil case in which another Manhattan judge, in 2014, barred enforcement in the United States of a $9.5 billion judgment against Chevron Corp that Donziger had won in an Ecuadorian court. The judge said the Ecuadorian judgment had been secured through bribery, fraud and extortion.

Donziger, who was disbarred in New York last year, was charged with contempt in 2019 for failing to turn over his computer, phones and other electronic devices, among other conduct. The New York City resident has been in home detention since August 2019 to address concerns of flight risk.

Tuesday's 2nd Circuit order also expedites Donziger's appeal.

The case is United States of America v. Donziger, 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 21-2486.

For United States of America: Rita Glavin of Glavin PLLC; and Brian Paul Maloney of Seward & Kissel

For Donziger: William Taylor of Zuckerman Spaeder

(Ed note: This story was updated after Donziger's lawyer confirmed he was in prison custody.)

Read more:

Donziger appeal to center on special prosecutor role

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New York-based correspondent covering environmental, climate and energy litigation.