bowotovchevron

Avoiding the Ad Hominem

In Commentary on November 26, 2008 at 3:16 pm

Last night, in an insomniac moment, I felt like adding a personal note to this blog. While my sympathies are clearly with the plaintiffs, I’ve always aimed to give a fair account of the defense counsels’ actions and arguments. No matter how critical I may be of Chevron’s handling of the affair-and some of their legal strategies-I wouldn’t want that criticism to be misconstrued as an attack on any of the attorneys on Chevron’s legal team. Legal arguments are there for the attacking, and the attorneys from Jones Day have provided a formidable defense that invites challenge.

Chevron’s attorneys have been doing their job and doing it well: defending their clients. I have great respect for their work and for the attorneys themselves-in fact, I’ve been following another major trial, U.S. v. Holy Land Foundation, in which John Cline from Jones Day defended a Palestinian-American philanthropist now convicted of financing terrorism through his support for Hamas. Read about the case here and full coverage here. Mr. Cline is an ace at cross-examination and it would have been great to see him at work in that case.

So I’d like to thank both legal teams for their work and for keeping things interesting.

Lastly, there’s another reason why we should thank the Jones Day attorneys for their work. The legal terrain of the Alien Tort Statute is still undiscovered country; when these cases get subjected to a vigorous defense, human rights lawyers learn more about how such claims operate, what defenses will be raised against them, what unforeseen rules or doctrines can be brought to bear on them. In order for the case law to be solidified, it has to be tempered in the adversarial process. So thank you adversaries…

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