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Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, First Department
August 13, 2020, Decided
No Number in Original
[**212] [*27] Disciplinary proceedings instituted by the Attorney Grievance Committee for the First Judicial Department. Respondent, as Steven Robert Donziger, was admitted to the Bar of the State of New York at a Term of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court for the First Judicial Department on November 29, 1997.
Motions Nos. 1271, 1660 — June 22, 2020
IN THE MATTER OF STEVEN R. DONZIGER, A SUSPENDED ATTORNEY
[*28] PER CURIAM
Respondent Steven R. Donziger was admitted to the practice of law in the State of New York by the First Judicial Department [**213] on November 29, 1997, under the name Steven Robert Donziger. At all times relevant herein, respondent has maintained an office for the practice of law within the First Department.
On July 10, 2018, pursuant to the doctrine of collateral estoppel, this Court found respondent guilty of professional misconduct, immediately suspended him from the practice of law, and referred the matter for a sanction hearing based upon his actions in Chevron Corp v Donziger (974 F Supp 2d 362 [SD NY 2014], affd 833 F3d 74 [2d Cir 2016], cert denied U.S. , 137 S Ct 2268 ), in which [***2] he, inter alia, was found to have engaged in corruption of a court expert and ghostwriting the expert's report, obstruction of justice, witness tampering, judicial coercion and bribery in connection with an $ 8.6 billion judgment obtained in Ecuador against Chevron (Matter of Donziger, 163 AD3d 123, 80 N.Y.S.3d 269 [1st Dept 2018]).
By order entered August 9, 2018, this matter was referred to a referee for a sanction hearing. Thereafter, by order entered August 16, 2018, this Court granted respondent's request for a post-suspension hearing pursuant to the Rules for Attorney Disciplinary Matters (22 NYCRR) § 1240.9(c) and directed the referee to hear and report on this issue as well as the sanction hearing related to the collateral estoppel proceeding.
By order entered November 29, 2018, this Court granted respondent's request for an unsealing order pursuant to Judiciary Law § 90(10) and [*29] opened the sanction/post-suspension hearings to the public pursuant to 22 NYCRR 1240.18(d). Notwithstanding this Court's prior order directing that collateral estoppel attached to Judge Lewis A. Kaplan's findings against respondent, the Referee issued a November 8, 2018 ruling that respondent could challenge those findings at the sanction/post-suspension hearings. The Attorney Grievance Committee (AGC) filed a motion challenging [***3] the Referee's ruling. By order entered January 17, 2019, this Court directed "that the Referee may not reexamine this Court's determination, based on the doctrine of collateral estoppel, that respondent committed professional misconduct ... and that the post-suspension hearing is limited to whether the professional misconduct respondent committed warranted his interim suspension pursuant to 22 NYCRR 1240.9(a)."
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186 A.D.3d 27 *; 128 N.Y.S.3d 212 **; 2020 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 4618 ***; 2020 NY Slip Op 04523 ****
[****1] In the Matter of Steven R. Donziger, (admitted as Steven Robert Donziger), a suspended attorney: Attorney Grievance Committee for the First Judicial Department, Petitioner, Steven R. Donziger, Respondent.
Notice: THE LEXIS PAGINATION OF THIS DOCUMENT IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE PENDING RELEASE OF THE FINAL PUBLISHED VERSION.
THIS OPINION IS UNCORRECTED AND SUBJECT TO REVISION BEFORE PUBLICATION IN THE OFFICIAL REPORTS.
Subsequent History: Leave to appeal denied by Matter of Steven R. Donziger, 2021 N.Y. LEXIS 708 (N.Y., May 6, 2021)
Prior History: Matter of Donziger, 163 A.D.3d 123, 80 N.Y.S.3d 269, 2018 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 5046, 2018 WL 3351377 (July 10, 2018)
recommendation, disbarred, practice of law, professional misconduct, interim suspension, post-suspension, misconduct, reinstated, disaffirm, sanction hearing, cross motion, retroactive, suspension, hearings, doctrine of collateral estoppel, obstruction of justice, documentary evidence, collateral estoppel, witness tampering, civil contempt, prior order, counselors-at-law, ghostwriting, aggravation, corruption, SUSPENDED, egregious, witnesses, coercion, requests