When Defendants Invoke ‘Necessity’ In Pipeline Sabotage

Law360 (May 24, 2018, 3:55 PM EDT) -- Opposition to new pipeline construction has grown in recent years, moving from public comment to litigation to physical protest. In 2016 alone, several coordinated actions led to trespass and vandalism of pipelines and pipeline facilities in multiple states, some of which were prosecuted as felony criminal acts under state laws. The defendants in some of these cases have raised a “necessity defense” for their actions, and two courts have now allowed that defense to proceed.

The necessity defense derives from old common law (i.e., not established by statute, although many states have now codified the defense by statute). A necessity defense...

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