There are two developments today in the Lago Agrio saga. You can find all Letters Blogatory coverage of the Lago Agrio case here.
First, Judge Lewis Kaplan denied the Lago Agrio plaintiffs’ motion to recuse himself. The motion seemed fairly weak, given that to the extent the judge had formed a negative opinion of Donziger or the Lago Agrio plaintiffs, he had formed it in the course of the proceedings. The judge cited Liteky v. United States, 510 U.S. 540 (1994), which in turn quoted Judge Jerome Frank:
Impartiality is not gullibility. Disinterestedness does not mean child-like innocence. If the judge did not form judgments of the actors in those court-house dramas called trials, he could never render decisions.
Second, according to the New York Law Journal, Chevron faced an uncomfortable hearing in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday. The Lago Agrio plaintiffs were appealing Judge Kaplan’s preliminary injunction enjoining attempts to enforce the Ecuadoran judgment. According to the NYLJ:
Judge Pooler also pressed Mr. Mastro on his denigration of the Ecuadoran judicial system, especially given the origins of the litigation.
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“You were the ones who wanted to try it in Ecuador,” Judge Pooler said. “You wanted to get the case out of the Southern District and into Ecuador.”
Judge Parker said he was sitting in White Plains as a district judge at the time and “I recall Texaco was in my court trying to get this case” to Ecuador.
Mr. Mastro said that “we did believe at the time” Ecuador was the better forum but “times have changed.”
“You think times have changed that much in Ecuador?” Judge Parker asked.
“Absolutely,” Mr. Mastro said, “The quality of justice in Ecuador is among the lowest in the world.”