Lawyer accused of trying to file fake article fails to show up for penalty hearing

Ethics

Lawyer accused of trying to file fake article fails to show up for penalty hearing

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A lawyer accused of fabricating a news article from a bogus publication called the Saudi Sun failed to appear for a hearing on Friday to determine whether he should be punished.

Senior Judge A. Wallace Tashima of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal in San Francisco said during the audience he would consider whether the attorney, Edward C. Chung of Chung Malhas & Mantel in Seattle, could be held in contempt for his decision to boycott the hearing.

Law360 covered the remarks by Tashima.

Tashima said he would consider whether the failure to appear constitutes direct contempt, according to Law360.

“But it seems to me a dismal failure to comply with a court order” to appear in court, Tashima said.

Tashima was appointed as a special master to investigate the alleged fake article and decide whether or not to recommend sanctions.

At issue is whether Chung wrote or commissioned the article to bolster his attempts to enforce an $18 billion arbitration award against Chevron Corp., according to Law360. Chung asked the 9th Circuit to allow him to file the article “for demonstrative purposes” last year.

In a letter filed with the court on Aug. 25, Chung called the demonstrative exhibit a “hypothetical document” meant to summarize the court case and said he informed the court of the purpose.

Chung’s letter accused Tashima and a second 9th Circuit Judge, Judge Eric D. Miller, of “a clear abuse of judicial authority, bribery, and collusion between you, Chevron Corporation, and its attorney of record, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher”. He said he had an “regrettable duty” not to take part in the hearing as a result.

Chung claims that a partner of Gibson Dunn is a “recognized friend” of Miller. And he said Tashima’s comments ahead of a Zoom hearing asking what kinds of penalties Chevron Corp. wanted were evidence of ex parte communications with Chevron Corp.

Chung represents the heirs of a Saudi sheikh who claim Chevron Corp. owes them rent due to a 1933 agreement signed 60 years ago by Chevron Corp.’s predecessor, the Standard Oil Co. of California.

The 9th Circuit dismissed the litigation last year and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case, according to Law360.

The case is Al-Qarqani vs Chevron Corp.