British jury ignores judge and frees self-represented climate activists based on the "necessity defense"

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Sometimes activism works. Who knew?


Jury nullification can be a beautiful thing.


Court clears anti-war saboteurs - The Guardian


Justice? Yes, but don’t get used to it.


But it can be a double edged sword. One could argue that the jury in the murder of Emmett Till nullified the case against of Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam. Like most blunt instruments, nullification has a dark side.


How about the “chalk paint really shouldn’t count as vandalism” defense?



Even without involving climate change that is a pretty harsh sentence for one instance of spray paint


Is chalk paint just liquid chalk or paint with a chalky color?

If just chalk - shouldn’t a ticket have been appropriate if anything? It would just wash away in the rain.


I think they’re referring to an aerosol spray chalk that resembles spray paint but washes off with a hose or in the rain. I used that stuff for a public art project once and had to stencil a little “don’t worry, it’s just chalk!” message at the bottom of every piece just to keep people from freaking out.


I guess they could maybe cite precedence.


I was just posting the same link as @euansmith - my personal favorite of the kind.

The four women successfully argued that they had exhausted all other means of halting British action in support of Indonesia’s act of genocide before they undertook their action at Warton which they themselves announced to the factory security staff and responsibility for which they freely and publicly embraced.

Angie Zelter tells her story here…

“I started thinking about the law and morality. Of course the whole purpose of the law is to protect the innocent, and the weak, and to protect society…If the law isn’t linked to morality in a way it loses it’s legitimacy.”

“So a group of 10 women prepared for a year. We went to see British Aerospace, we lobbied our parliament, we wrote letters, we did everything we could do as an ordinary citizen to try to prevent the arms trade…We wrote a book about it because we knew we were facing ten years in prison and we wanted the information to get to the jury.”

“Although the judge said to the jury that we didn’t have a defense and should be found guilty, the jury found us not guilty.”


This is really cool. Good for these guys.

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Yes - and they were never really facing that - They say it cost £7,000 to clean (sure) which might come under compensation, possibly, but not a fine. So if we called it “Widespread Graffiti” the sentencing guidelines suggest band C fine (125% - 175% weekly income) - Unless they are earning £5.6k a week the fine will be nothing like that.

The judge in this spray-painting case also instructed the jury to ignore the defense. I wonder if judges need to be instructed on how to better instruct juries. You could say essentially the same thing in different ways. A judge who informs the jury about how the law works might get a different result than one who tells the jury that they aren’t allowed to listen to the defense and that they have to return a guilty verdict. It’s a spectrum and I don’t have a great reason to think the judges in either case screwed up, but I do wonder if they didn’t contribute to the sense the jury had that someone unfair was happening.

Reacting to case:
Damn straight! Nullify! Nullify!

It’s vigilantism. It carries a lot more risk of injustice than a well functioning justice system does. But wild west justice is still more just than outright might-makes-right lawlessness. Lone vigilantes probably arise from unbearable entitlement. But when it becomes organized or happens in groups that seems like a sign that people don’t have much faith in the system.


I know I always mention this when it comes to the Brits and their legal system, but I’m reminded of the case with The Guardian, their records of the leaked material from Edward Snowden, and GCHQ’s eventual ultimatum:

“You’ve had your fun. Now we want the stuff back,” one of [the GCHQ officials] said.

In other words, it seems like the English possess freedom of speech solely on the indulgence of Her Majesty’s government, and bow your filthy heads you disgusting peasants.

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Legally the UK doesn’t have a written constitution guaranteeing free speech but does recognize free speech as an important principle of free society. The UK also voted to ratify the universal declaration of human rights though that doesn’t have much legal effect.

On a legal level the free speech protections there are much weaker than in the US, and the right to free speech is balanced against the public interest. On a practical level, I’m not sure which country is more likely to actually convict you of a crime for, say, laughing at the attorney general.

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And it’s permissible to use the “Good” cat meme pic here too.

This reminds me of this doc, Nae Paseran

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