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State v. Klapstein

ELR Citation: 48 ELR 20069
Nos. A17-1649 et al., (Minn. Ct. App., 04/23/2018)

A Minnesota appeals court upheld a lower court decision allowing protestors who face felony charges for shutting down a petroleum pipeline to assert the "necessity" defense. The protestors claimed their actions were necessary to prevent environmental harm caused by the use of fossil fuels, particularly the tar sands oil carried by that pipeline. The trial court issued a pretrial order allowing the protestors to present evidence in support of this defense, and the state appealed. But the state failed to demonstrate that the order will have a critical impact on the state's ability to prosecute the defendants successfully. The trial court's ruling does not have any immediate impact on the state's case in the absence of other yet-unmade rulings in trial. The order permits the protestors to present evidence on necessity at trial, but it makes no commitments as to the scope of evidence that will be allowed, and it specifically authorizes the state to object again at trial on any lawful grounds. The state's appeal was therefore dismissed.