A group of Extinction Rebellion activists were put on trial for trespass. It was pretty open and shut, they did it. Except that they pleaded "justification" in their defence. It worked.
The defendants were not convicted of trespassing in the first degree—charges that resulted from their role in an April 28, 2019 action intended to halt Zenith Energy’s, a Texas corporation, (“Zenith’s”) essential role in the global facilitation and transport of fossil fuels, specifically, tar sands oil—one of the world’s most egregious source of carbon emissions and climate change.
For the first time in U.S. history, to our knowledge, a jury was given the “choice of evils” climate necessity instruction and deliberated after a full jury trial. Jurors ended their deliberation with a hung jury after hearing testimony from expert witnesses and defendants. CLDC and its clients are grateful to the jury—fellow Multnomah County residents—who are imminently affected by Zenith’s environmental destruction and recognized that the climate defenders’ actions in defense of the public interest may have been justified under the law.
“The jury’s inability to convict the activists reflects the prevailing community consciousness, which is unlikely to punish climate defenders for acts of nonviolent resistance,” [Civil Liberties Defense lawyer Lauren] Regan said.Oregon has a "choice of evils" law under which a jury may refuse to convict where a defendant shows the conduct was necessary to avoid an imminent injury and that the need to avoid the injury was greater than the injury created by the defendant.
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