Chevron Corp. v. Berlinger

629 F.3d 297 (2011)

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Chevron Corp. v. Berlinger

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
629 F.3d 297 (2011)

CS

Facts

Joseph Berlinger (respondent) was hired by the plaintiffs in an environmental lawsuit (the litigation) filed against Chevron Corp. (petitioner) in Ecuador to make a documentary film about the litigation from the plaintiffs’ perspective. The documentary included a scene indicating that Berlinger altered the film at the direction of the plaintiffs’ attorney, Steven Donziger. Another scene showed Donziger with Ecuador’s president in a way that suggested the latter sided with the plaintiffs in the litigation and was prepared to have the Ecuadorian government assist them if needed. Following the release of the documentary, Chevron and two Chevron attorneys facing criminal prosecution in Ecuador for their alleged conduct in the litigation (petitioners) petitioned the district court to compel Berlinger to provide the raw footage from the documentary, which Chevron sought to use in the litigation and the two Chevron attorneys sought to use in the criminal proceedings against them. The district court granted the petition, ordering Berlinger to provide the raw footage. Berlinger appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, contending that the district court’s order was an abuse of discretion because the press privilege protected the raw footage from compelled disclosure. Berlinger argued that Chevron failed to demonstrate that the raw footage included material that was likely relevant to a significant issue in the litigation and that the raw footage was not reasonably available from other sources. Berlinger claimed that some of the raw footage was clearly irrelevant to the litigation and that other portions were available from another source, namely film crews that worked for Chevron.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Leval, J.)

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