The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit will consider a petition to reassign a federal judge overseeing a case stemming from a $19 billion judgment against oil giant Chevron Corp.
In a notice filed Aug. 14, the Second Circuit set Sept. 26 for oral argument on the petition to reassign Judge Lewis Kaplan for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Kaplan is currently presiding over a RICO lawsuit that Chevron filed against a group of Ecuadorians and their lawyers. The fraud case was filed by the company in the New York federal court in 2011.
New York attorney Steven Donziger and Ecuadorian plaintiffs Javier Piaguaje and Hugo Camacho filed a petition for writ of mandamus with the federal appeals court in June. They want the judge to be removed from the case for his alleged bias.
In a rare move, the court asked Kaplan for a legal brief in his defense. However, the judge “respectfully declined” the court’s invitation, according to a letter last month.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has filed an amicus brief in the case.
“The Chamber is concerned that improper resolution of Petitioners’ tactical use of a request for judicial reassignment could set a dangerous precedent with long-standing effects,” former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey wrote in the brief, filed July 29.
The Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform owns Legal Newsline.
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