Gregory has long been an ambassador for Santa Clara Law. He recently helped mentor two paralegals—Celine Purcell J.D. ’15 and Joe Ferrari J.D./MBA ’16—to attend Santa Clara Law. They now work for Wilson Sonsini and Weil, Gotshal & Manges, respectively. He has served as a judge for moot court competitions, and he has taught numerous continuing legal education classes—both on campus and during road shows—on the topic of Ponzi schemes. He developed an expertise in such schemes after he joined classmate Mike Ioannou ’77, J.D. ’80, as a partner at Ropers Majeski Kohn Bentley in San Jose, and started defending people who had been financially defrauded. His current law partner, the famed trial attorney Joe Cotchett, founded a legal scholarship in Gregory’s name, for second- or third-year law students, especially those pursuing environmental law.
THE SCOPES MONKEY TRIAL OF OUR TIMES?
As Gregory prepares for trial, it is not lost on him that the term sometimes used for Juliana, “the Trial of the Century,” evokes apt comparisons to the 1925 Scopes trial—in which legendary trial lawyer Clarence Darrow took on firebrand William Jennings Bryan over the legality of teaching evolution in public schools. The Scopes case provoked extreme emotions. So does Juliana. And both cases pit widely accepted science against determined deniers. In the Juliana lawsuit, reams of documentary evidence show that the government was fully aware that CO2 emissions were heading to disastrous levels as a result of actions they took.
“The case is exactly like the Scopes trial,” Gregory says. “We are going to have the science, and they are going to have what they call ‘alternative facts.’
“But in this case, alternative facts are perjury.”
If the 9th Circuit dispenses with the writ of mandamus — which is still outstanding at press time — the case goes to trial the first Monday in February 2018 in Eugene, Oregon, before District Judge Ann Aiken. It will be tried on the third floor of the Wayne Lyman Morse United States Courthouse, a LEED-certified, glass-and-metal edifice overlooking the Willamette River.
Gregory estimates that he will spend four to five hours a day, seven days a week, preparing for trial. That includes deposing government officials and extracting non-public documents from the defense for evidence. It also includes working on witness reports from experts like Nobel Prize–winning economist Joseph Stiglitz; activist climate scientist and Columbia University adjunct professor James Hansen; and Naomi Oreskes, author of Merchants of Doubt—a book that includes a chapter on the role of petroleum companies in persuading the government to use taxpayer resources to support CO2-causing fossil fuels. Even Tseming Yang, the SCU professor who is doubtful of Juliana’s prospects, says he will be watching with interest. “This is an idealistic, legal moonshot, maybe,” he says. “But if it’s affirmed, I think this would be a game-changer, even if the Supreme Court ultimately struck it down. It would change the legal dialogue about all of this.”
DEBORAH LOHSE is assistant director of media and internal communications at SCU. She was previously a staff journalist at the Mercury News, Wall Street Journal, and Money Magazine.