This article originally appeared on Huffington Post on September 28, 2010.
On May 26, I was arrested at Chevron’s annual shareholder meeting. Chevron, a California-based company, held the meeting at its Houston office — the old Enron building.
On Thursday, my lawyer, and the lawyers of the four others arrested at the meeting, go to court in a preliminary hearing. Chevron has asked the Houston prosecutors for jail time.
Today, John Letzing of MarketWatch wrote what I believe to be a very important article: “Chevron throws book at shareholder activist. Are criminal charges the best way to deal with a meeting disruption?” challenging the decision by Chevron to “throw the book” at one of its shareholders for the “crime” of voicing criticism at its annual shareholder meeting.
Letzing writes of the unusual choice by Chevron:
Juhasz’s prosecution may result in an odd instance of a company having one of its stockholders incarcerated, and raises questions about the best way for firms to deal with activists who buy in, just to make a statement.
“‘This is very, very unusual,’ says Sanjai Bhagat, a professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Leeds School of Business. ‘I’m a little puzzled as to why management would take such unusually strong steps.'”
“Boston University Prof. James Post said he can’t recall a similar case where a company pursued a shareholder activist with criminal charges, and for good reason: ‘A company almost never wins in a case like that.’
The article has already received over 100 comments. While far too many focus on questioning my gender (I guess my short San Francisco hairdo doesn’t translate well across the nation!), most stay to the point, which, in most of the instances thus far, seems to be agreeing with Chevron.
There are important exceptions, including this one from “Larry Lynn,” who writes: “I have decided to have my family trust divest any Chevron/Standard stocks. Chevron/Standard is willing to compromise everything in order to enhance their bottom line. Halliburton had the courtesy to relocate to Dubai. If Chevron/Standard will not act in the interest of the citizens of the United States, kick them out and shut them down.”
Due to the constraints imposed upon me by the case, I cannot write about the case here. But you can learn much more on my websites: http://www.TyrannyofOil.org and http://www.GlobalExchange.org/chevron.
Follow Antonia Juhasz on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AntoniaJuhasz