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Donziger's bid for new trial doesn't address guilt, says special prosecutor

3 minute read

Attorney Steven Donziger at the Manhattan Federal Courthouse in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S. May 10, 2021. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

  • Bid for new trial doesn't challenge facts behind guilty verdict, prosecution says
  • Attorney General has discretion to review special prosecution's decisions

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(Reuters) - Special prosecutor Rita Glavin has told a Manhattan federal court that lawyer Steven Donziger's most recent bid for a new criminal trial should be tossed.

In a Wednesday filing, Glavin asked Senior U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska to deny Donziger's Aug. 3 motion for a new trial, saying, "Donziger asserts no challenges to the facts underpinning the Court's verdict of guilty."

Donziger's lawyer Martin Garbus of Offit Kurman said: "Steve of course asserted his innocence throughout."

Glavin declined to comment.

She said in her filing that Donziger falls short of meeting federal rules of criminal procedure requirements for a new trial. Citing a 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals 2013 ruling, she wrote that a new trial may be granted when there is "a real concern that an innocent person may have been convicted."

Donziger was tried in May and found guilty of six counts of criminal contempt.

His criminal case springs from post-judgment orders in a civil case in which a Manhattan judge in 2014 barred enforcement in the United States of a $9.5 billion judgment against Chevron which Donziger had won in an Ecuadorian court. The judge found the ruling had been obtained through fraud.

His sentencing is set for Oct. 1.

In his motion for a new trial, he says that in a May email, an acting deputy attorney general refused to oversee the private lawyers serving as prosecutors for the United States. That violates a constitutional requirement that the Department of Justice oversee it, Donziger argued.

Glavin wrote in her court filing that the acting deputy attorney general's refusal does not establish that the U.S. Attorney General has forfeited his right to review, at his discretion, the special prosecution's decisions.

Donziger was charged in August 2019 with criminal contempt for, among other things, failing to turn over his computer, phones and other electronic devices.

That same month, Preska ordered that he be detained at home, where he remains.

The case is United States v. Donziger, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 1:19-cr-00561.

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

For Donziger: Martin Garbus of Offit Kurman and Ronald Kuby

Read more:

After contempt conviction, attorney Donziger asks for new trial

Lawyer who sued Chevron over Ecuador pollution found guilty of contempt

Citing Arthrex, Donziger says private prosecutor unconstitutional

'He can't go anywhere,' Donziger's lawyer implores

Lawyer who sued Chevron over Ecuador pollution faces N.Y. contempt trial

Sebastien Malo reports on environmental, climate and energy litigation. Reach him at sebastien.malo@thomsonreuters.com

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