Necessity and International Law: Arguments for the Legality of Civil Disobedience

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Yale Law & Policy Review, Vol: 5, Issue: 2, Page: 12

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Lambek, Bernard D
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In April 1987, Amy Carter, Abbie Hoffman, and 13 other protesters were tried in Northampton, Massachusetts, for trespassing and disorderly conduct during a demonstration against the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The defendants raised the "necessity defense," arguing that their actions were justified as reasonable efforts to "prevent other crimes that pose the 'clear and immediate threat' of greater harm." District Court Judge Richard F. Connon instructed the jury on the availability of this defense under Massachusetts case law, and permitted the jury to hear extensive testimony on the harms caused by the CIA. The witnesses "described assassinations, murders, campaigns of misinformation and other alleged activities by the agency and groups it supports in Central America and elsewhere." All the defendants were acquitted.