Saturday, March 31, 2018

I'll Really Miss the Rule of Law

Karenna Gore, daughter of former Vice President Al Gore
 protests at the site of Spectra Energy's West Roxbury Lateral
 pipeline in Boston
Boston Judge Accepts Climate Necessity Defense, Dismisses Charges
Judge Mary Ann Driscoll has dismissed criminal charges against protestors including Al Gore’s daughter on the grounds that their actions were necessary to prevent climate change.

Judge sets aside charges in pipeline protest …
The protesters, including Karenna Gore, the daughter of former Vice President Al Gore, were facing charges of trespassing and disturbing the peace after climbing into a construction trench. On Tuesday, prosecutors asked a judge to convert the criminal charges into civil infractions, saying in the event of a conviction they were unlikely to ask for any further punishment. After allowing the motion, Judge Mary Ann Driscoll found the defendants not responsible, saying she agreed with their argument that their actions were necessary to combat climate change.
“Based on the very heartfelt expressions of the defendants who believe, and I don’t question their beliefs in any respect, who believe in their cause because they believe they were entitled to invoke the necessity defense, I’ll accept what they said,” Driscoll said.
So let's look at the "Necessity Defense":
A defense that permits a person to act in a criminal manner when an emergency situation, not of the person's own creation compels the person to act in a criminal manner to avoid greater harm from occurring.
There are, however, several requirements that must be met in order for the defendant to use necessity as a defense.

  • The defendant must reasonably believe that an actual threat exists. 
That may be the only requirement they meet, and that's giving them the benefit of the doubt; most watermelon (green on the outside, red in the middle) environmentalists really just want to kill capitalism; global warming is merely the chosen all purpose excuse.
  • The defendant must reasonably believe that the threat he is trying to prevent is greater than the damage that will result from his actions. Therefore, Christopher will be able to use the necessity defense if he reasonably believes that burning some of the houses at the edge of the forest is a lesser evil than allowing the entire town to burn.
The amount of global warming which could be prevented by the defendant's actions are effectively zero, a decimal fraction of degrees with many zeroes in front. There can be no reasonable belief that the defendant's action would have any reasonable effect.
  • The threatened harm that the defendant is trying to prevent with his actions must be imminent.
Global warming, if occurring (and there is a reasoned debate) is not imminent. It will be many years before the effects, if any, will become damaging. Currently, mild warming is beneficial.
  • The defendant can only use the necessity defense if there was no other, less harmful way to avoid the threatened danger. In the above example, Christopher will only be able to use the necessity defense if burning a few of the houses was the least harmful way to protect the town.
You mean, like win an election?
  • The defendant will only be able to use the defense if the defendant himself was not at fault in creating the situation that made it necessary to commit his crime. In other words, if Christopher himself had been responsible for the forest fire, he would not be able to use necessity as a defense to burning those houses.
Did they come to the scene of the crime in a car that burns fossil fuel, or even an electric one charged by a coal fired plant? Did they eat food grown using fossil fuels? Do they heat their house with gas or electric from a fossil fuel source? Almost certainly, making them complicit in the demand for fossil fuel energy.

It's very disappointed for a judge to agree with such a stupid assertion, but what can you expect from Massachusetts. I can only hope someone would appeal to more sensible court, but I doubt it will happen

But there is good news on the legal environmental front. A Federal Judge Rules that an Environmental Group Has Sued Others, Therefore It Can Be Sued
Last August, Energy Transfer Partners, the company that built the Dakota Access Pipeline, sued a number of environmental groups, including Greenpeace, BankTrack, and Earth First!, alleging the groups were collectively engaged in racketeering. Here’s a bit of the company’s press release:
This group of co-conspirators (the “Enterprise”) manufactured and disseminated materially false and misleading information about Energy Transfer and the Dakota Access Pipeline (“DAPL”) for the purpose of fraudulently inducing donations, interfering with pipeline construction activities and damaging Energy Transfer’s critical business and financial relationships. The Complaint also alleges that the Enterprise incited, funded, and facilitated crimes and acts of terrorism to further these objectives.
Obviously, public protest is legal and protected in the U.S., but ETP’s lawsuit claimed the protest was a cynical spectacle intended to raise money. It also claimed the illegal action of individuals, such as cutting holes in the pipeline with a blowtorch, were incited by these groups. ETP’s filing said the damage done to the company by this behavior amounted to “no less than hundreds of millions of dollars.”

One of the groups targeted by the suit, Earth First!, is being represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), which claims Earth First! is not a legal entity but a movement and therefore cannot be sued. In fact, CCR asked the judge to sanction ETP for bringing the Earth First! Journal, which is supposedly a separate entity, into the lawsuit. Last week a federal judge denied that request and gave the group until this coming Monday to prove it can’t be sued. From the Associated Press.
The Center for Constitutional Rights maintains Earth First is an unstructured social movement or philosophy, similar to Black Lives Matter, and can’t be sued. However, U.S. District Judge Billy Roy Wilson says Earth First has been a listed plaintiff in three federal lawsuits in the 1980s and 1990s, involving a water project in Arizona, a wilderness area in Oregon and a New Mexico canyon important to American Indians.
“If Earth First can sue, it seems to me that it is subject to being sued,” Wilson said in a March 22 order.
That seems like common sense, but what does that have to do with the legal system?

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