Victory for Climate Necessity Defense Upheld at Washington Supreme Court

The Washington Supreme Court has declined to review a ruling by the state’s Court of Appeals upholding the right of CDP client Ken Ward to present a necessity defense at trial. The Court of Appeals ruling, issued in April of this year, had overturned a previous decision by the trial court to bar all evidence and expert testimony on the necessity defense proffered by Mr. Ward, finding that the trial court had denied Mr. Ward his Sixth Amendment right to a complete defense.

The Supreme Court decision makes Washington the first state to affirmatively recognize the right of a climate protester to present the necessity defense at trial. The charges in the case stemmed from Mr. Ward’s October 2016 action shutting down the Kinder Morgan TransMountain pipeline carrying Canadian tar sands oil to refineries in Skagit County, as part of the multi-state “Shut It Down” climate action. 

A press release can be found here.

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