On Monday, Steven Donziger (U.S. attorney accused of bribing judges in order to win a multi-billion dollar judgment against Chevron) took the stand. His defense relied on downplaying his role in the case. He claimed that he was not the lead lawyer, passing that role off to a lawyer in Ecuador named Pablo Ferjado. Donziger’s testimony was the most anticipated part of this trial and there were more than 70 people in the courtroom (including musician Sting, whose wife offered aid and support to the villagers).
Randy Mastro, Chevron’s attorney, made a point of trying to undermine Donziger’s claim with a slew of questions. Randy questioned Donziger about the multiple times he referred to himself as lead lawyer, to which Donziger agreed that, at times, he had. Mastro also brought up the discrepancy in salary amounts between Pablo Ferjado, the lawyer in charge according to Donziger, and Donziger who were making $24,000 and $150,000 respectively. This was done to discredit Donziger’s statement “I work for them; they do not work for me.” In addition, Randy Mastro pointed to “Donziger’s 2011 retainer agreement, which called for him to receive nearly one-third of any contingency fee. Even with the award slashed in half last week, his portion would still be worth $600 million”.
Donziger did admit to “paying a supposedly independent court-appointed expert in Ecuador out of a secret account; altering the expert’s report hours before it was submitted to the court; and receiving an e-mail from his co-counsel soon after a new judge was assigned to his multibillion-dollar pollution lawsuit against Chevron, saying ‘the puppeteer won’t move his puppet unless the audience pays.’” Days following that e-mail, $1000 dollars was moved to and given to Alberto Guerra (a former Ecuadorean judge who testified against Donziger – refer to previous posts for more details). Donziger claims that he was simply following laws in Ecuador and that Chevron’s attorneys are taking things out of context.
Although some believe there is enough evidence to make a case that Donziger violated civil racketeering laws, others do not think that Randy Mastro has made a case. Chris Gowen, spokesman, said the following after the first day of cross-examination:
Viewing Randy Mastro’s cross-examination of Steven Donziger today, one could be forgiven for thinking Mr. Mastro is a bad lawyer but I can assure you he is one of the best lawyers in the country. Unfortunately, when you are cross-examining someone who is telling the truth and you have no case against him, not even Perry Mason would look good, Randy Mastro failed to establish a single legal claim against Mr Donziger.
On the other hand, according to Randy Mastro “this case is proving that when reality doesn’t jibe with the fiction that’s being presented to foreign courts, there are ways to remedy that fiction, expose it, and remedy it and we’ve been honored to help Chevron do that.”
Source: Reuters and Forbes
I am excited to officially announce Courtroom Insight’s new knowledge sharing product and the signing of Littler as our first major customer!
Courtroom Insight’s newest product for law firms offers Littler users the ability to confidentially track and share experiences about expert witnesses, mediators, arbitrators and judges. It also provides access to Courtroom Insight’s public database of reviews written by other attorneys and professionals. With Courtroom Insight, attorneys benefit from reduced firm-wide requests for information and decreased research costs.
Law firms are not the only ones who benefit from Courtroom Insight’s new application. Our expert witness and neutral profiles gain the unique advantage of being viewed directly by hiring attorneys throughout the country. Courtroom Insight’s law firm subscribers are committed to using our directories for their research and hiring needs. As a result, our profiles gain:
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This competitive advantage will increase as more major law firms sign up for our application.
Experts and neutrals can take advantage of this unique marketing opportunity by presenting firms with complete profile information, including photos and CVs.
Check out the official press release below or click here.
Courtroom Insight Launches its New Law Firm Knowledge Sharing Product and Signs Littler as the First Major Customer
Courtroom Insight’s new law firm product provides Littler attorneys a platform to privately track the firm’s experience with experts, neutrals and judges.
San Francisco, CA (PRWEB) November 19, 2013
Courtroom Insight, the leading online directory and review system for legal professionals, today announces Littler, the world’s largest employment and labor law practice, as its first major law firm client. Courtroom Insight’s innovative solution is an online knowledge management system that enables law firms to privately organize and share their attorneys’ experiences about working with litigation professionals. The system dramatically reduces firmwide email requests for information and decreases research costs.
Courtroom Insight’s secure, cloud-based software offers Littler users the ability to track and share case-specific experience with expert witnesses, litigation consultants, mediators, arbitrators and judges, as well as to access Courtroom Insight’s public database of reviews written by other attorneys and professionals.
“Our firm’s attorneys needed a better way to manage information about the many arbitrators, mediators, and expert resources we use around the country,” said Scott Rechtschaffen, Chief Knowledge Officer at Littler. “We considered building an internal database but realized that Courtroom Insight’s ready-made solution was much more cost effective. Plus, it includes additional information about arbitrators, mediators and other professional resources not available elsewhere.” As one firm attorney noted, “I have been waiting for something like this forever.”
With Courtroom Insight’s sophisticated knowledge sharing solution, Littler’s 1,000-plus attorneys can instantly access information about the experiences of other firm attorneys. The readily available information increases attorneys’ effectiveness and confidence when dealing with experts, judges and opposing counsel both inside and outside the courtroom.
“Littler is an acknowledged technological leader in the legal industry and we are excited to be working with them,” said Courtroom Insight CEO Mark Torchiana. “Our successful deployment at Littler will reinforce the firm’s reputation for innovation and serve as a valuable testimonial for our new product going forward.”
Courtroom Insight’s private law firm product is the newest service provided by the company. It was developed with significant design input from Littler’s knowledge management group. Available system customizations include single sign-on and integration with existing enterprise search technologies.
About Courtroom Insight
Courtroom Insight is the largest online directory featuring attorney and peer reviews of expert witnesses, litigation consultants, mediators, arbitrators and judges. In addition to public listings, the company offers private knowledge management solutions to law firms and corporate counsel. Courtroom Insight was founded in 2009, and is headquartered in San Francisco, California. For more information, go to http://www.courtroominsight.com.
Littler is the largest global employment and labor law practice with more than 1,000 attorneys in over 60 offices worldwide. Littler represents management in all aspects of employment and labor law and serves as a single source solution provider to the global employer community. Consistently recognized in the industry as a leading and innovative law practice, Littler has been litigating, mediating and negotiating some of the most influential employment law cases and labor contracts on record for over 70 years. Littler is the collective trade name for an international legal practice, the practicing entities of which are separate and distinct professional firms. For more information visit: http://www.littler.com.
Name: Michael J. Slifka, PE
Location: Middleton, WI
Specialty: Engineering, architecture, planning and design
Sub-specialty: Safety and security, fire and explosions, building code compliance and quality assurance, including construction defects
Expert witness profile description provided by Mr. Slifka:
Drawing on 30+ years of knowledge and experience in resolving complex problems with straight-forward, non-complex wisdom and communication.
Michael Slifka brings a multi-faceted array of capability and experience in fire protection consulting to your needs and the ability to guide you to the est approach to achieve the optimal solution.
Since 1966 I have been actively and successfully practicing in the broad array of the fire protection engineering field from Research and Development to Building/Fire code development. This includes the creative input to and enforcement of the Building Codes and Fire Standards; as well as consulting on the Codes and Standards as a given project may require. Over the years, this has led to fire protection engineering on major projects throughout the United States. I have also been internationally recognized in litigation support and qualified as an expert witness consulting on cases in the United States and its Territories.
Fire Protection, Life Safety, Health Care, High-rise Construction and Expert witness are all serious undertakings – and they require a detailed clear-eyed and experienced approach.
Mr. Slifka is listed in Courtroom Insight’s expert witness directory as an engineering, architecture, planning and design expert. He is trained in the highly technical and specialized field of Fire Protection and Safety Engineering. He is qualified in Federal and State Courts and has been involved in “prominent and legally sensitive, large death fires.” Some of those include:
- Las Vegas Hilton & MGM Grand fires in Las Vegas, NV
- Happy Land Social Club in New York City
- DuPont Plaza Hotel & Casino in San Juan Puerto Rico
- The Station Fire in Rhode Island
So far I have been very busy in the recent months with my consulting on a wide variety of fires, lawsuits and building designs. Here is a list of my most recent work. Details and references are available by request via my contact information as shown in this profile and on my web site.
1) Boiler explosion, Whitewater, WI…lawsuit, case review, expert report and deposition case ongoing.
2) Carbon Monoxide poisoning, Casper, WY…lawsuit,on site inspection case review, expert report and deposition case ongoing
3) Wood burning fireplace and chimney fire, Freedom, IN…lawsuit, onsite inspection, case review and expert report case ongoing.
4) Restaurant hood and grill fire, Madison, WI… lawsuit,on site inspection, case review and expert report
5) Wood burning fireplace and chimney fire, Bloomington, WI…lawsuit, case review and expert report case settled.
6) House fire, Madison,WI…on site inspection, verbal report with photos.
7) House fire, Galena, IL…on site inspection, verbal report with photos case settled..
8) House fire, Pomeroy, OH…on site inspection, verbal report with photos case ongoing.
9) House fire, Oakdale, CA…on site inspection, verbal report with photos case ongoing..
10) Office Structure fire, La Farge, WI…on site inspection, verbal report with photos, case ongoing..
11) Farm Products Plant fire, Echo Lakes, WI…retained, awaiting case file
12) Risk analysis of 24 Federal Office Buildings in CA, AZ & NV…on site inspections, with detailed Fire Safety Evaluation System reports and analysis (FSES…NFPA 101A) and supporting photos
13) Design Consultation on 4 separate building projects, 2 modular apartment complexes and 2 hospital additions (an MRI and a Gait Laboratory) in Salt Lake City, UT
14) I will be in trial in Clayton, MO on the St. Louis Airport fire (2006).
15) I will be in trial in Casper, WY on the carbon monoxide poisoning case listed in 2 above.
Michael Slifka also has numerous professional qualifications
- Registered Professional Fire Protection Engineer – California (FP 479)
- Fellow in Fire Forensics/Fire Investigations, American College of Forensic Examiners (ACFE
- Diplomat in Fire Forensics/Fire Investigations, American Board of Forensic Examiners (ABFE)
Be sure to check out Mr. Slifka’s expert witness profile for more information:
The latest development in Chevron v. Donziger seems to help out Chevron’s case although the claim was supposed to go against Chevron. Yesterday, Judge Nicolas Zambrano who issued the $19 billion judgment against Chevron testified that he wrote the entire 188-page ruling on his own and denied paying Alberto Guerra, a former Ecuadorian Judge, to write it for him. However, when questioned by Randy Mastro, a lawyer for Chevron, there was many inconsistencies in his story. Mastro asked Zambrano about specific sections of the ruling and Zambrano was unable to explain or account for reasoning, data and terms used in the ruling. This “pop quiz” as some are calling it, seemed to pay off.
Some questions from Randy Mastro:
Can you name what the author of the ruling “has described as the most powerful carcinogenic agent considered in this decision?
Zambrano answered: “I don’t recall exactly, but if you give me the names perhaps I can remember.”
Please identify what the “author of the opinion had called the statistical data of the highest importance to delivering this ruling?
Zambrano tried to guess but answered incorrectly.
“What theory of causation does the author of the ruling say he agrees with?”
Zambrano answered: “I don’t recall.”
Mastro also asked Zambrano how he could have cited French and English case law without speaking either of those languages. Zambrano told the court that he paid a woman “to take dictation [and] helped him in his research, pulling documents from the internet and translating them into Spanish.” However, he was unable to say whether she spoke any foreign languages. In addition, Mastro asked why Alberto Guerra’s “datebook showed multiple payments of $1,000 and $2,000 from Zambrano”, to which he said he did not know.
Today, attorneys for Donziger will have a chance to question Zambrano.
Sources: Reuters and CNN Money
There have been some new developments in the Chevron v. Donziger case as the trial has proceeded. The former Ecuadorean judge, Alberto Guerra, who presided over the pollution case, testified that “he and a colleague who issued a $19 billion judgment against the company in the environmental lawsuit were bribed.” He went on to tell the court that the lawyers for the plaintiffs paid him thousands to rule in their favor. The other judge, Nicolas Zambrano, was promised $500,000 of the $19 billion to issue that ruling. Guerra revealed that he “also routinely ghost wrote judgments for Zambrano and was paid for those services.” Alberto Guerra even explained why some of the rulings in the case favored Chevron; telling the court that if all orders benefited the plaintiff, it would have raised suspicion.
Nicolas Zambrano has denied Guerra’s testimony, insisting he was not bribed by the plaintiffs nor was anyone involved in writing his decisions. The attorneys have said that he may testify for the Ecuadorean plaintiffs.
In further developments, on the ninth day of trial a New York lawyer and partner at Constantine Cannon, Jeffrey Shinder, testified that he left the team that was suing Chevron over environmental pollution in Ecuador in 2010 for “ethical” reasons. Shinder said that Donziger, the lawyer who headed the litigation, “had approached him starting in late 2009 about helping enforce any award the Ecuadorean court issued.” He explained that just eight days following his formal retention he quit “after learning that a report by an expert appointed by the Ecuadorean court had actually been written by a consulting firm working for the plaintiffs.”
During trial Shinder said “I wanted no part in it”, adding “it bothered me and still bothers me that we’ll never know if there was a case against Chevron.”
Source: Bloomberg and Reuters
Chevron’s suit against Steven Donziger has prompted Chevron to seek out two Ecuadorian witnesses who will testify in a private courtroom (closed to both the public and Steven Donziger); a measure to protect the witnesses. According to the proposal by Chevron’s attorneys at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Dozinger’s attorney can participate in the hearing but is not allowed to reveal the witnesses’ identities to Donziger. Nothing has been set in stone, considering U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan has not yet ruled on the proposal, which could in fact change.
At least one of the witnesses would offer testimony that, if believed, would corroborate Chevron’s claim that Donziger bribed an Ecuadorian judge to allow Donziger’s colleagues to ghostwrite the entire 188-page, $19 billion environmental judgment against the oil company that was handed down in Lago Agrio, Ecuador, in February 2011, according to a memorandum filed last May by Chevron’s lead lawyer, Randy Mastro.
Although Judge Kaplan has previously ruled that he believes these witnesses have reason to be fearful (of both economic and physical retribution since they still live in Ecuador and President Correa has been an outspoken proponent of Donziger’s case), the idea of a closed courtroom “would raise sensitive constitutional questions under the Due Process Clause”. Donziger’s attorney has not agreed to this proposal stating that Donziger knows most about this case and therefore excluding him would seriously affect their ability to do their job. In addition, Donziger’s attorney is trying to argue that although the case brought against their client is civil,” it is in practice quasi-criminal” and is therefore subject to the Sixth Amendment “which guarantees defendants the right “to be confronted with the witnesses against him.”
On the other hand, Chevron is arguing that Donziger only won the judgment “by means of extortion, bribery, mail and wire fraud, witness tampering, obstruction of justice, and money laundering.” This case was brought on by Donziger in 2003 that asked for damages for contamination that he claims was left behind by Texaco’s drilling from 1964 to 1990 (Chevron acquired Texaco in 2001).
The risk to these witnesses seems to be increasing as President Correa has “waged an aggressive campaign of denouncing Ecuadorian attorneys and witnesses who cooperate with Chevron’s case against Donziger, branding them ‘traitors,’ ‘criminals,’ ‘collaborators,’ and ‘enem[ies] of the country,’ and warning that ‘We will not let this go unpunished.’” There is even a website that is dedicated to finding and exposing anyone who has helped Chevron in any way, including experts, attorneys, judges, witnesses, law and public officials, and journalists.
Source: CNN, Fortune and Money
We want to hear from you…
How will Judge Kaplan rule? What is your opinion, should these witnesses be protected? Updates will be provided as they become known.
With digital gaming on the rise – Candy Crush Saga, Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja – it is no surprise that companies want to take this gaming technology and apply it to other markets. It might seem like a far stretch to apply it to the legal field but “analysts say the trend is gaining steam”…“corporations like Cisco Systems and Google’s Motorola Mobility have embraced gamification”.
The idea is to apply this concept in order to educate and motivate people, whether it is for consumers or internal use. The goal is to better hold the attention of the user and have them learn something in the process. In addition, rewards can be great incentives to finish a task, level or game. Players can accumulate points and, depending on the game/company, redeem them for cash, prizes or recognition.
Companies are reaching out to their customers to “forge stronger bonds…, often as part of loyalty programs”. Whole Foods, for example, designed a two-week game to bring awareness to the importance of healthy choices. We are seeing internal uses for gaming technology as well; corporations are using it to teach employees how to sell new products and testing their knowledge to then train them according to their weakness. Gaming has also been added to internal social networks to promote collaboration among colleagues. “Employees earn points by filling out online profiles, sharing content, writing insightful blogs, and answering questions, among other activities”.
Despite gaining traction, the gamification market only captures a small percentage of the total market, with sales totaling an estimated $522 million for this year, according to the principal analyst at M2 Research.
While customer applications still make up the majority of uses today, M2 forecasts that internal enterprise applications will make up 62 percent of a $2.6 billion total gamification market by 2016.
Gaming has started to infiltrate the legal industry. “Stephanie Kimbro, director of online legal services for Burton Law, has launched an L3C (low profit limited liability company) called “Game on Law” to develop games that teach consumers about the law”. She has started with estate planning; showing consumers what can happen without proper planning and is developing a game to educate people about foreclosure in the state of Illinois.
Arresten Game is another game that is directly tied to the legal field. It is a free mobile app where users have to match case names to their description. This game was developed with the suggestion of a team member from Wolters Kluwer Legal in Netherlands. The managing director, Denise Koopmans, says “we thought it was an excellent idea and decided to develop it”. After launching in July of last year, the app has been downloaded more than 9,000 times in the Netherlands. Their users, mainly students, compete amongst each other, which makes the game more fun. Users can gain badges along the way and complete different levels which are then displayed on a leadership board. In addition to educating players, this game has proven to be a good marketing tool. Wolters Kluwer has integrated their content into the app, making it easy for players to look up information about a specific case. Exposing these 9,000 plus gamers to Wolters Kluwer’s products, establishes brand recognition and advertises to their precise demographic of future customers.
Other companies, such as HaystackHQ, are taking the idea of gaming and using it to “make that incredibly mind-numbing process [of review] more engaging and fulfilling for the reviewing lawyer”. They use data visualization techniques to identify patterns which will then analyze and provide the reviewing lawyer with immediate feedback.
Research firm Gartner predicted that by 2015, 40 percent of Global 1,000 organizations will use gamification as the primary mechanism to transform business operations.
Source : Law Technology News
We want to hear from you…
Are you convinced? How successful do you think gaming will be in the legal field? Do you find it compelling enough to jump on board?