Description: Criminal cases against climate protesters who participated in pipeline protests.
State v. Foster
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 02/06/2018 Order Defendants sentenced. North Dakota Court Sentenced “Valve-Turner” Activist to Year in Prison. A North Dakota state court sentenced two environmental activists who participated in the #ShutItDown “valve-turners” action coordinated by the group Climate Direct Action. The action involved closing valves on pipelines in Washington, Montana, Minnesota, and North Dakota. The Climate Disobedience Action Fund reported that the North Dakota court sentenced an activist who disabled the TransCanada Keystone 1 tar sands pipeline in North Dakota to three years in prison, with two years deferred. He had been convicted of misdemeanor trespass and felony criminal mischief and conspiracy to commit criminal mischief in October 2017. A second activist who filmed the action was convicted of felony conspiracy to commit criminal mischief and conspiracy trespass, a misdemeanor. He was sentenced to two years in prison, with both years deferred. 09/29/2017 Decision Download Motion to exclude testimony or exhibits in support of a climate necessity defense granted. A jury in North Dakota state court found a defendant who participated in a protest by turning a valve on the Keystone Pipeline guilty of conspiracy to commit criminal mischief, criminal mischief, and criminal trespass, but not guilty of reckless endangerment. A second defendant was found guilty of trespass. A week earlier the court denied the defendants’ request to present a necessity defense. The North Dakota court found that the defendants’ offered proof would not allow a reasonable person to conclude that they had no reasonable legal alternative and that a reasonable person could not conclude based on the defendants’ proof that the harms of climate change, “however serious they might be, were imminent and certain to occur absent defendants’ acts.” The court also found that expert testimony both as to the efficacy of nonviolent civil disobedience as a means to political change and as to the defendants’ belief that their actions would reduce the amount of tar sands transported through the pipeline did not reach the level of proof necessary to show a direct, causal relationship between the defendants’ acts and the avoidance of harm.