NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) -- The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on Friday denied a petition to remove the federal judge overseeing Chevron Corp.'s fraud case.
The Second Circuit, in a single-page order, denied a mandamus petition filed by New York attorney Steven Donziger and Ecuadorian plaintiffs Javier Piaguaje and Hugo Camacho.
They filed the petition for writ of mandamus with the federal appeals court in June. They wanted Judge Lewis Kaplan to be removed for his alleged bias.
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 U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in February 2011.
In addition to the judge's removal, the petitioners also asked the federal appeals court to vacate four orders issued by Kaplan.
The Second Circuit also denied that request, and a motion for a stay in the federal court case.
In a rare move, the court had asked Kaplan for a legal brief in his defense. However, the judge "respectfully declined" the court's invitation, according to a letter in July.
However, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce 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.
In its order, the Second Circuit denied the Chamber's motion to file its brief, saying it was moot.
Click to view a copy of the Second Circuit's order.
The trial in the fraud case is set to begin in October.
From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.