Description: Prosecution of protesters who blocked a rail yard in Washington state to draw attention to climate change and the risks of coal and oil trains.
Washington v. Brockway
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 01/15/2016 Not Available Defendants convicted on trespass charges. Washington State Court Rejected Climate Protesters’ Necessity Defense After Allowing Them to Present Evidence in Support of It. Five individuals who blocked a rail yard in Washington state to draw attention to climate change and the risks of coal and oil trains were convicted of trespass in Washington state court on January 15, 2016. Before the trial, the judge in Snohomish County District Court initially dismissed the protesters’ necessity defense—in which the individuals argued that civil disobedience was necessary to address climate change and harms caused by oil trains. On reconsideration, however, the judge allowed the defense to present testimony in support of the necessity defense at the trial. The defense relied on the testimony of a climate scientist, a physician, a rail-safety specialist, an environmental policy researcher, and a former rail company employee. Ultimately, the judge directed the jury to disregard the testimony, saying that the defendants had not shown that they had exhausted legal means of advocating for changes in climate change and rail safety policies. The judge said from the bench that the defendants were “tireless advocates whom we need in this society to prevent the kind of catastrophic effects that we see coming and our politicians are ineffectually addressing.” The defendants were not convicted on charges of obstructing or trying to delay trains. 01/06/2016 Motion Download Motion filed for reconsideration of order precluding expert testimony. 01/06/2016 Order Download Defendants' motion to allow affirmative defense of necessity denied and expert witness testimony dismissed.