Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Judge in Chevron's $27 Billion Lawsuit Asked to Stay On

After all the media fireworks and PR storms manufactured by Chevron start to settle.

The latest of these facts: Judge Nunez, the judge was preceding over the $27 billion lawsuit, has been asked to remain on the trial after "no reason found for his recusal.

Looks like the truth continues to float to the top of Chevron's muddled concoction.

Bloomberg report:

Ecuador Judge Told by Court to Stay on Chevron Case

By Karen Gullo and Adriana Brasileiro Sept. 23 (Bloomberg) -- The Ecuadorean judge who stepped down from a $27 billion environmental lawsuit against Chevron Corp. after the company accused him of bias should remain in charge of the case, a court in Ecuador ruled.

A request by Judge Juan Nunez to recuse himself from the Chevron lawsuit was “unfounded,” Judge Nicolas Zambrano said in a ruling yesterday. Like Nunez, Zambrano sits on the Nueva Loja Superior Court in Ecuador’s northeastern Sucumbios province.

Nunez on Sept. 4 was asked by Ecuadorean authorities to recuse himself after Chevron released tapes allegedly showing that he had disclosed his intention to rule against the company to two businessmen before issuing a final decision and may have been involved in a bribery scheme. Nunez denied the allegation. Ecuador’s top prosecutor is investigating the matters.

Nunez, a former Ecuadorean Air Force officer and president of the Nueva Loja Superior Court, has been overseeing a lawsuit filed by Amazon Basin residents in Ecuador who claim Chevron is responsible for toxic waste from oil drilling in the jungle from 1964 to 1990 or later.

The plaintiffs claim the pollution was left by Texaco Inc., which Chevron acquired in 2001. Chevron said Texaco cleaned up its share of the pollution at its former oil fields, which were taken over by Ecuador’s state-owned oil company. Chevron was released from any future liability in an agreement with PetroEcuador, the company says.

Additional Delays

The case has been pending in a court in Lago Agrio, 20 miles south of the Colombian border, since 2003.

Ecuador Prosecutor General Washington Pesantez said Sept. 4 that Nunez was asked to step down to avoid additional delays in the case. Zambrano, the second highest-ranking judge in Nueva Loja Superior Court, took over the case and considered Nunez’s motion for recusal. Nunez didn’t comply with an order to submit documents supporting his request to resign from the case, Zambrano’s ruling said.

“Considering the request was unfounded, I decide the process by returned to said employee,” Zambrano said, according to an excerpt of the ruling translated from Spanish. Nunez declined to comment on Zambrano’s ruling today.

You can read the entire of the Bloomberg report HERE

– Nick

Nick Magel is Communications Manager at Amazon Watch. Prior to joining Amazon Watch, Nick was Director of the Freedom From Oil campaign at Global Exchange. Nick’s critiques of the US oil addiction have run in The New York Times, USA Today, and San Francisco Chronicle. Previously, Nick had worked on campaigns to stop new liquefied natural gas infrastructure on the west coast and developed climate based curricula for classrooms across the country. He received his MA in education from Lesley University.

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