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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 114994 Find in a Library
Title: Putting the Government on Trial: The Necessity Defense and Social Change
Journal: Wayne Law Review  Volume:33  Issue:4  Dated:(Summer 1987)  Pages:1221-1256
Author(s): J H Levitan
Date Published: 1987
Page Count: 36
Type: Issue Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Appellate courts should recognize the availability and desirability of the necessity defense in certain political protest cases, such as some civilly disobedient protests over nuclear power plants and the dangers these plants pose, over nuclear arms and the threat of nuclear holocaust, and over United States foreign policy in Central America and South Africa.
Abstract: The necessity defense acknowledges that circumstances may justify noncompliance with the law, if the conduct is promoting some value higher than the value of literal compliance with the law. Many trial courts are allowing the necessity defense when no appellate law supports the practice. Appellate courts have commonly applied overinclusive, inherently flawed reasoning that is not properly applicable to the circumstances of the case. The appellate courts have also commonly ignored governing statutory language and have meshed the differing standards, apparently overlooking the controlling statute and case law. Although some appellate decisions have been exceptions, appellate courts need to improve their understanding of the necessity defense and its foundations. 148 footnotes.
Main Term(s): Defense
Index Term(s): Criminal responsibility; Political crimes; Political offenders
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