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State v. Ward
Washington Court of Appeals
438 P.3d 588 (2019)
Kenneth Ward (defendant) was an experienced climate-change activist. Ward broke into a Kinder Morgan pipeline facility to disrupt its operations by closing a valve at the facility. Kinder Morgan was an oil-pipeline company that delivered tar-sands oil from Canada to the United States. Ward intended to temporarily stop the flow of oil in Kinder Morgan’s pipeline because he believed climate change was an existential threat. Based on his experience with environmental issues, Ward believed that the only effective method to combat climate change was direct action. Ward believed that the opportunity to make incremental changes through politics had passed and that emergency action was necessary to prevent catastrophe. Ward was arrested and charged with second-degree burglary, among other crimes. Ward sought to introduce evidence regarding a necessity defense. The State of Washington (plaintiff) filed a motion in limine to preclude any witnesses and evidence to support Ward’s necessity defense, which the trial court granted. The trial ended in a hung jury. The state recharged Ward. Ward moved for reconsideration of the grant of the state’s motion in limine. To support his motion, Ward provided information on eight expert witnesses, scientific evidence regarding climate change, and the effect of the burning of tar-sands oil. The trial court denied Ward’s motion for reconsideration. The second jury found Ward guilty of burglary. Ward appealed, arguing that the trial court violated his constitutional right to present a defense under the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Mann, J.)
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