Legal Briefing: Faked Evidence in a Chevron Pollution Case?

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Scientist Says He Didn't Write Report Plaintiffs Submitted in His Name
Chevron is facing billions in potential liability stemming from its alleged contamination of the Ecuadorian rain forest. However, one particularly damning report of the pollution appears to be a forgery, reports The Wall Street Journal. Chevron just released a deposition by Charles Calmbacher, in which he says he had found contamination, but none as bad as in the reports written above his signature, and that he had not calculated potential clean-up costs, although "his" reports include such numbers.

Nonetheless, the signatures on the reports are his, he admits. Calmbacher says he left Ecuador early due to illness and had given the plaintiffs pre-signed pages, expecting the report written on them to reflect his research and conclusions, which the ultimate report did not.

The Journal article doesn't include any comment by the plaintiffs explaining the discrepancy in the report, beyond expressing confusion at what Calmbacher is asserting. In fact, the plaintiffs seem dismissive of the issue, saying that his report was just one piece among many documenting the pollution, implying that excluding the report will make little substantive difference. Still, it can't be good for your side if any of your evidence appears faked.

Blame the Tax Code for Expensive Baseball Tickets?
Last night, the baseball season began with a late-inning, come-from-behind win by the Boston Red Sox, defeating my beloved Yankees at Fenway Park. Many lifelong fans, like me, can remember when going to the stadium to watch a game was an affordable night of family fun. Not so much anymore.

I've generally blamed greedy owners, players and agents, but a couple of professors blame the tax code, reports the ABA Journal. Specifically, they claim the problem is business's ability to write off the cost of tickets. Corporate demand for seats, facilitated by the write-off, drives up prices both by direct bidding and by reducing supply: To meet corporate demand, team owners build luxury boxes instead of ordinary seats for everyday folk.

Nuclear Generational Battles
President Obama's embrace of new nuclear power plants has heartened nuclear advocates, but nuclear opponents are winning the battles over the older plants. Vermont recently decided to shut down the 38-year-old Vermont Yankee plant when its permit expires in 2012, rejecting owner Entergy's request for a new license.

Now, New York's Indian Point plant may be shut as well, reports The New York Times. The licenses of Indian Point's two reactors expire in 2013 and 2015, and to get new ones, Entergy needs New York to grant it a new water permit for its cooling system. However, Indian Point's cooling system is long obsolete and pollutes the Hudson River far more than necessary, the state says, needlessly killing lots of fish as well. So, New York denied the permit, requiring Entergy to replace the cooling system with a modern one. Citing the replacement cost, Entergy is threatening to close the plant, and to use its lobbying prowess to persuade the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to issue it a license without New York's permission.

And in the Business of Law . . .
The Chicago Tribune reports that deferred law associates have valued the time they spent on their firms' dime at legal-aid groups, and legal aid has come around to really appreciate the associates. Perhaps if the recession lasts long enough, such cross-fertilization will bring the two traditionally very separate legal cultures closer together.

One more attorney leaves the profession for cooking (this time tamales, not baking) . . .

And another returns after a 17-year hiatus as a stay-at-home mom and contract attorney.
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