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Lawyer who battled Chevron may get chance to defend himself

A legal referee says a New York attorney who won a landmark oil pollution judgment against Chevron in Ecuador only to have his law license suspended at home should not be disbarred without a chance to defend himself.

The decision involves Steven Donziger, who persuaded a court in Ecuador to order Chevron to pay $9.5 billion for environmental damage in a rainforest.

That judgment was later invalidated by a judge in New York, who said it was obtained through malpractice.

The U.S. judge says Donziger tampered with witnesses and tried to bribe a judge.

But the referee says in a Nov. 8 decision that Donziger was effectively put on trial without a jury.

He set a hearing for the lawyer to defend himself.

State attorneys opposing Donziger want it cancelled.

Frank Bajak, The Associated Press