Sentencing for False Bidding
Tim DeChristopher was sentenced yesterday at the federal courthouse in Salt Lake City. DeChristopher who was earlier convicted of disrupting a federal oil and gas lease auction in 2008, did not receive the maximum penalty of 10 years but the two years sentence still incited outrage. In 2008 DeChristopher originally went to the BLM auction of land to protest what was taking place. A former wilderness guide and a U of U econ student, DeChristopher then decided to enter the auction and bid up the prices to keep the lease from selling and protect the land. Since those events DeChristopher has become a hero in the eyes of environmentalists as the lease never ended up selling once Obama took office and started an investigating into the legitimacy of the lease of the land based on a seperate environmentalist lawsuit.
Justice at the Courthouse
As DeChristopher was in court, a group of environmentalist protestors gathered outside and blocked the steps of the courthouse. Once DeChristopher was sentenced to the two years in prison and the $10,000 fine he was immediately taken into custody. The protestors were outraged and eventually moved the protest into the street blocking TRAX ; by the end of the day 26 protestors had been arrested. Many believed justice had not been served because of the outrageous sentence handed down to DeChristopher; this is unfortunately a common complaint against the judicial system and usually stems from a misunderstanding of how the courts work.
DeChristopher’s attorneys have announced that they will be appealing the conviction and the sentencing to the Circuit Court. The defense team originally attempted to make a necessity argument before the court stating that DeChristopher was simply choosing the lessor of two evils by disrupting the auction. The judge however did not find this argument relevant and did not allow it. Thus on appeal, DeChristopher’s attorneys will argue that the judge made a mistake by not allowing the necessity defense as well as argue that the sentence was excessive. Unfortunately for DeChristopher, neither argument is likely to be persuasive.