Washington Court Issues Written Decision Allowing Necessity Defense

In a big step forward for the climate necessity defense, a Washington trial court has issued a written decision allowing a defendant to assert the defense against charges stemming from a protest against the transportation of dangerous fossil fuels. In 2016, Reverend George Taylor participated in an action by Veterans for Peace and Raging Grannies to block BNSF tracks in Spokane, Washington that are used to transport coal and oil. Judge Debra Hayes of the Spokane District Court had previously signaled that she would allow Mr. Taylor, who plans to go to trial next month, to present evidence, including expert witnesses, about the dangers of climate change, the fossil fuel industry’s influence over the political system, and the need for civil disobedience to address the climate crisis. Her written findings emphasize a defendant’s constitutional right to make such arguments in court — an important precedent for the many climate necessity defenses ongoing across the country. Climate Defense Project continues to lead and support such efforts.

You can find the decision here.

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