As those of you who’ve been following our case know, Chevron recently served a subpoena on the makers of the feature documentary CRUDE in order to obtain nearly 600 hours of raw footage accumulated during the making of the film. In May, a US District Court ruled for Chevron and ordered CRUDE’s director, Joe Berlinger, to produce the footage. In an effort to protect the footage, his sources, and his process, Berlinger immediately appealed.
Today in New York City, a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that Berlinger will be awarded a full hearing in July on his appeal, and as a result, the district court’s May 20th order directing Berlinger to produce the footage will be suspended during the pendency of the appeal.
Berlinger’s lead attorney, Maura Wogan of Frankfurt Kurnit, says today’s decision “signals that the appeals court takes seriously the rights of investigative journalists like Joe Berlinger,” and Berlinger is “delighted that the appellate court seems to understand the significant public interest in our appeal being heard.”
Over the last several weeks, we’ve continued to be awed and inspired by how this case has made headlines across the country. We’ve received incredible support from the film and journalism communities, including open letters from the IDA, DGA, WGA, and a friend-of-the-court brief from leading First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams on behalf of 13 major media companies followed. As eloquently articulated by many esteemed members of the press and independent film legends—from the editors of The Los Angeles Times to Michael Moore, Bill Moyers, Robert Redford and most recently, Norman Lear—a ruling in favor of Chevron would be a grave violation of Berlinger’s First Amendment rights and will undoubtedly have a chilling effect on documentary filmmakers and journalists worldwide. The stay that was granted today will allow us to argue the merits of our position before the Court, and for that we are grateful.
We cannot thank all of you enough for your amazing support throughout this process. We are continuing to accept donations for our defense fund through the end of June, as our legal bills continue to mount through the duration of this appeal. We are truly and deeply moved by the support we have received so far and can only hope you will help us continue to spread the word to family and friends.
Recent Press on the case:
Complete Amicus Brief: