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Climate Activist Who Chained Herself to Shell Vessel Argues Necessity Defense



From the article:
"In January, five climate activists charged for blocking an oil train used the necessity defense in a groundbreaking case, marking the first time a U.S. judge allowed the argument to be used in a climate trial. The defendants were eventually found not guilty of obstruction, avoiding jail time."

To clarify:
The judge in the January "Delta 5" case initially allowed the defendants to argue the necessity defense. However, at the close of arguments, in instructions to the jury, the judge stated that the necessity defense requires four conditions to be met, but that the defendants only met three of those criteria, so the jury was to ignore the necessity defense and the arguments based on it, and only judge guilt or innocence based on the letter of the law.

(i was not at the trial, but i believe the criterion the judge said they failed to meet, was to demonstrate that they had exhausted all other possible remedies for the "greater evil" they were trying to interrupt with their minor crime.)

The jury found plausible reason to find not guilty on the obstruction charge, which not only meant no jail time for the defendants, but also means that the owners and operators of the oil train and the rail line cannot bring further civil action against the activists.

So: That case, while positive in many ways, does not set legal precedent for successful use of the necessity defense when breaking the law to avert ecological catastrophe.

EDIT: Yes, see the excellent article today by Jeremy Brecher about the legal basis for climate direct action, which includes an outline of the Delta 5 case.


Thank you for your service. Finally, a true hero.


Chiara is a hero -- God bless her!!!!