Tim DeChristopher is interviewed about climate activism and use of the “necessity” defense in a recent WIRED article “Pipeline Vandals are Reinventing Climate Activism.”
Just this year, DeChristopher and a group of other activists actually did win a necessity case, though it was not by jury trial. In that case, 14 people, including DeChristopher and Karenna Gore, daughter of Al Gore and director of the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary in New York, were charged with civil infractions after disrupting construction of a high-pressure gas pipeline being built through the Boston suburb of West Roxbury. At the hearing early in 2018, Judge Mary Ann Driscoll found them “not responsible” by reason of necessity.
Still, DeChristopher points out, the necessity defense will not be fully legitimized until a jury decides: This is real. “If a jury of 12 random people unanimously says that climate change is so serious, and our government’s response to it is so inadequate, that it necessitates this kind of action by regular people—that, I think, is groundbreaking,” he says.