At a Vermont Supreme Court hearing at the Vermont Law School, defense attorney Kristina Michelson had a small window of time to convince the justices her clients were not trespassing on Green Mountain Power Land last August, when protesting the Kingdom Community Wind Project.
“I thought it went great, the court was very engaged,” said Michelson, who was happy to be granted the chance to potentially turn her clients’ trespassing convictions around.
“I believe that the justices were fairly convinced that the jury had been confused,” she said.
In 2012, the defendants, dubbed the “Lowell Six,” blockaded GMP’s wind project that was being constructed on the Lowell Mountain ridgeline.
At issue is the question: Who owned the land the protesters were removed from?
GMP says the group was trespassing on their land, while the “Six” protesters say they were on land owned by Don and Shirley Nelson, who gave them permission to be there.
The state maintained that GMP had the land requirements to enforce trespassing laws.
In a statement, Green Mountain Power said:
“A jury of their peers found the protesters were trespassing when they interrupted construction on Lowell Mountain. Police gave them every opportunity to leave, but they chose to be arrested. GMP has a valid lease for that land, confirmed in town records, and we are confident the jury understood the facts.”
If the conviction stands, the defendants could face a $250 fine or 25 hours of community service. There is no word on when the Supreme Court will make a decision.
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