When We Go To Court
While many folks have been taking a break during this holiday season, our Marla Marcum has not been one of them. Over the last week Marla has been jumping between lawyers and dozens of defendants who are before multiple courts defending their acts of conscience and moral imagination.
Will you support Marla’s incredible court-support work with a donation?
The Climate Disobedience Center arose out of a need to deal with court cases after someone has taken action. I’m sure many of you know how we’ve spearheaded efforts to bring the climate necessity defense into courtrooms across the country. But legal strategy isn’t the only thing that happens when activists enter a courtroom; it can be a place to build community, build the disobedience muscles of those around us, and build power we can use in the next phase of action.
Defendants from the 2019 mass action to remove coal in Bow, New Hampshire fill the room in Concord District Court February 14th, 2020.Read more
Minnesota Valve Turners #ClimateTrial begins
The climate trial we've been waiting for begins this morning in Bagley, Minnesota. If you need a refresher on what this trial is about, check out Wen Stephenson's analysis in The Nation.
As our friends, Annette and Emily (Valve Turners) and Ben (support team) head to court, they are surrounded by supporters, and they are ready to tell their powerful stories of why their actions were necessary.
At the same time, they have been forced to change up their approach to the trial. Although the highest court in the state of Minnesota affirmed their right to proceed with the presentation of a necessity defense, the Court in Bagley has rejected most of their expert witness list.
As Nicky Bradford and Alec Connon report in this blog post:
"The jury will, in other words, be prevented from hearing the evidence required to make an informed decision on whether or not the Valve Turners actions were necessary."
Climate Disobedience Center's Tim DeChristopher is there to support the Valve Turners and their team, to learn from this trial so that we can apply those lessons in support of future trials, and to share his analysis of the proceedings with all of us. Tim will be tweeting from @dechristopher and @ClimateDisobey.
You can also follow Climate Direct Action (the Valve Turners and their team) on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and their trial blog.
We're building community for the long haul because opponents and challenges like this are bound to rise up to meet us. Please know that your support – even from a distance – matters to people who put themselves on the line for the sake of all of us.
Let's keep building hope and resilience together,
Marla (for the Climate Disobedience Center team)
P.S. If you missed our webinars about holding it together in tough times (1) and our new effort to support people to build strong, resilient communities where they are (2), you can watch recordings here and here.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: JUDGE DENIES CLIMATE ACTIVIST’S NECESSITY DEFENSE, RESTRICTING RIGHT TO DEFEND PROTEST AT TRIAL
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MAY 10, 2017
Climate Defence Project
Climate Disobedience Center
Mount Vernon, WA — A Washington state judge has ruled that Ken Ward, a climate activist who who helped to temporarily block the flow of tar sands oil from Canada to the United States in an October protest, cannot present the climate necessity defense at his trial scheduled to begin on May 22. The decision — which limits Mr. Ward’s constitutional right to defend himself in court — bars Mr. Ward from from arguing to a jury that his actions were necessary, and prohibits him from calling expert witnesses to testify about the ongoing harms of climate change and the need for grassroots civil disobedience to impel policy change.Read more
Press Release: Jury in Delta 5 Climate Case Splits Decision, Shares Sympathy With Protesters
For Immediate Release: Jury in Delta 5 Climate Case Splits Decision, Shares Sympathy With Protesters
Contact Ahmed Gaya 773-960-2587, [email protected]
January 15, 2016
Lynnwood, WA - The historic case of the 'Delta 5' train blockaders has ended with a conviction on one of the two charges. After four days of testimony from the defendants and their expert witness a Jury found the defendants not guilty of impeding the movement of a train, but guilty of trespass in the second degree.
Immediately following the verdict three of the jurors gathered in the halls of the courthouse to talk with the defendants, their legal team, and supporters. In a heartfelt conversation the jurors expressed their support for the defendants, told their lawyers they would have acquitted on all charges were necessity instructions given, agreed to work with the Climate Disobedience Center to improve further cases and signed up to attend a lobbying day on oil-trains with defendant Abby Brockway.
"The fact that the full testimony on climate and oil trains was allowed, and the jury acquitted us of blocking an oil train makes this a historic trial. Two of the jurors said they are ready to join us lobbying at the state house, I'd call that a success," said defendant Abby Brockway.
Despite the compelling testimony, the judge instructed the jury to limit their deliberations only to the question of finding whether there were violations of trespass and train laws.
"This judge refused to introduce our defense because of lack of precedent. It set me to thinking of all the bold judges who broke with precedent and advanced the cause of justice in the process, The necessity defense is something that needs a new precedent.” said Jackie Minchew of the Delta 5.
Jurors told the defendants and their lawyers that they were moved by the testimony on the climate crisis and oil train threats and that they would find ways to take action on both issues. “Welcome to the movement,” defendant Mike Lapointe told jurors as he and Brockway embraced them.
Four of the five defendants were sentenced to $550 in fines and fees and a two year probation. Mike Lapointe had his fines suspended due to his financial circumstances. The terms of their probation are that they have no further criminal violations and have no contact with BNSF property.
In 2014, Motivated by the alarming science of climate change, and by concern for the safety of those living in Washington's fossil fuel corridors, the five local activists had blockaded a train used to transport explosive Bakkan crude oil in Everett on September 2, 2014.
"The Delta 5 knew that they had to step outside of business as usual to take climate action commensurate with the crisis. The fact that Judge Howard stayed within his strict legalism and declined to take a risk of conscience reinforces how important it is for citizens to take bold moral actions. It is clear from the comments of the jurors that this was a transformational moment," said climate activist Tim DeChristopher. DeChristopher, a founder of the Climate Disobedience Center, had his own trial and conviction after disrupting a federal oil and gas auction in Utah in 2008.
Defendants are now available for comment to the media.
Contact Ahmed Gaya, 773-960-2587, [email protected]
Video of the defendants and jurors talking available here .
More videos of jurors and defendants and courtroom footage being uploaded, contact Ahmed Gaya
VERDICT: Delta 5 defendants found not guilty obstruction, guilty of trespass. Receive no jail time.
UPDATED: Read trial verdict press release here.
JURORS celebrate the Delta 5 in an unprecedented climate trial!
THE VERDICT: The defendants were found not guilty on obstruction of train charges, guilty of trespass. The judge issued 90 days suspended (no jail time) and minor fines for each defendant, except LaPointe, who gets no fine.
This verdict is via Tim DeChristopher's live tweeting from court.
For background on the case see Delta 5 posts on this site and the Delta 5 trial site. For media inquiries please contact Mara Marcum.
Jury finds all defendants not guilty of obstruction, guilty of trespass. #Delta5— Tim DeChristopher (@dechristopher) January 15, 2016
Blessing of Delta 5 Trial, Abby Brockway's Sermon
Cross posted on the Delta5Trial.org blog.Read more
Delta 5 Media Hits
As the trial of Abby Brockway, Mike Lapointe, Patrick Mazza, Jackie Minchew, and Liz Spoerri unfolds over the next week we'll be posting media updates here.
The Guardian - A crime justified by climate change? Activists caught in legal showdown.
Click below for a full list of media hits.Read more
Climate Justice Sunday with the #Delta5
This morning, the Woodland Park Presbyterian Church in Seattle observed Climate Justice Sunday, celebrating the Delta 5 oil train blockaders offering them a blessing on the final day before their historic trial begins in Lynnwood, Washington. This extraordinary congregation welcomed television cameras, radio reporters, and a documentary crew along with over 60 guests from other faith communities and people of no particular faith to gather and explore our shared commitments to climate justice and to supporting those who take bold action.
I was honored to join the worship team, serving as a liturgist and offering a brief reflection on what this moment in the Christian liturgical year has to teach us about power, civil disobedience, and climate justice.
The text of my reflection is pasted below. You can listen to it here (look for Jan 10 Moment for Mission – Marla Marcum...).
Press Release: Historic Climate Trial Starts Monday In Lynnwood, WA
For Immediate Release: Historic Climate Trial Starts Monday In Lynnwood
Contact: Ahmed Gaya, [email protected], 773-960-2587,
Friday, January 8th, 2016
Lynnwood, WA - Five community members who blocked the path of an explosive oil train in Everett last year will finally go to trial in Snohomish County on Monday. In a surprise ruling Judge Anthony E. Howard has allowed the defendants to argue that their actions were justified by the threat of climate change. This is the first time a U.S. court has heard a ‘necessity defense’ in a case relating to climate action.Read more
Liz Spoerri: Conservative, Logical and Hopeful
Five courageous climate dissidents are preparing to go to trial in Washington State on January 11. In September 2014 Abby Brockway, Mike Lapointe, Patrick Mazza, Jackie Minchew, and Liz Spoerri blockaded a train used to transport bakken shale oil at the Delta rail yard in Everett. They are preparing to use a necessity defense, arguing in court that their actions were necessary in the face of impending climate catastrophe. We are honored to be working with them. You can find more of their story on their website. Here is Liz Spoerri's story of her motivation for action. -JayRead more