A Utah environmental activist who was sentenced to two years in prison last week will appeal his sentence to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Tim DeChristopher, sentenced on July 26 to two years in prison and ordered to pay $10,000 in fines, gained notoriety as Bidder Number 70 at a federal drilling rights auction in 2008.
DeChristopher claimed that he went to the 2008 auction for Utah drilling rights with the intention of protesting or disrupting the auction in the name of environmental activism. Instead, he registered as a bidder and ultimately won 14 oil and gas leases for $1.8 million, reports The Guardian.
The crime was that DeChristopher had neither the funds nor the intention to pay.
At trial, DeChristopher argued that he lacked the necessary intent when showing up for the auction, but Judge Dee Benson strictly limited defense testimony on federal energy policies and climate change, which DeChristopher said in numerous interviews were his primary motivations in going to the auction, according to The New York Times.
DeChristopher's legal team wanted to argue that he registered as Bidder Number 70 to right a wrong and was forced to choose between the lesser of two evils: bidding with false intentions or standing by while an environmental wrong occurred. In particular, DeChristopher's attorneys wanted to delve into his views on climate change to explain his actions, reports The Deseret News.
Benson shut DeChristopher's attorneys down, claiming that the defense strategy would turn the courtroom into a debate over global warming.
Tim DeChristopher is contesting Judge Dee Benson's limitation on his defense strategy in his appeal.
- Bush Administration Environmental Policy: 18 Months Later (FindLaw's Library)
- Court Blocks Environmentalist's 'Necessity Defense' From Oil and Gas Lease Trial (FindLaw's Courtside)
- Eco-activist Gains Fame for Civil Disobedience (AP)