Description: Criminal cases against climate protesters who turned pipeline valves.
State v. Klapstein
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 10/11/2017 Order Download Motion to present necessity defense granted. Minnesota Court Said Climate Protesters Could Present Necessity Defense at Trial. A Minnesota trial court granted four environmental activists’ motion to present a necessity defense. The defendants—two of whom acknowledged they had attempted to shut down tar sands crude oil pipelines by turning shut-off valves on the pipelines—were charged with criminal damage to property of critical public facilities, utilities, and pipelines; trespass on such facilities; and/or aiding and abetting criminal damage to property and/or trespass. The court noted that Minnesota’s standard for the necessity defense was “high” and would require the defendants to show that “the harm that would have resulted from obeying the law would have significantly exceeded the harm actually caused by breaking the law, there was no legal alternative to breaking the law, the defendant was in danger of imminent physical harm, and there was a direct causal connection between breaking the law and preventing the harm.” The court indicated that its grant of the motion to present evidence on the necessity defense was “not unlimited” and that it expected any evidence “to be focused, direct, and presented in a non-cumulative manner.”