Lawyer accused of trying to file fake news article doesn't show up for sanctions hearing

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A lawyer accused of fabricating a news article from a fake publication called the Saudi Sun didn’t show up for a Friday hearing to consider whether he should be sanctioned.

Senior Judge A. Wallace Tashima of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal at San Francisco said during the hearing he would consider whether the lawyer, 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 look into whether the failure to appear constitutes direct contempt, according to Law360.

“But it seems to me a woeful failure to comply with an order of the court” to appear at the hearing, Tashima said.

Tashima was appointed as a special master to investigate the alleged fake article and to decide whether 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 the 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 Aug. 25, Chung called the demonstrative exhibit a “hypothetical paper” that was intended to summarize the court record and said he had informed the court of the purpose.

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

Chung claims that a Gibson Dunn partner is an “admitted friend” of Miller’s. And he said Tashima’s comments before a Zoom hearing asking what kinds of sanctions that the Chevron Corp. wanted was evidence of ex parte communications with the Chevron Corp.

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

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

The case is Al-Qarqani v. Chevron Corp.

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