A pair of pipeline opponents in Roanoke County have been convicted of violating a local owner's property where trees were being cleared. The misdemeanor conviction is being appealed by the pair. They claim that they did not intend to interfere with operations but wanted to monitor workers who were getting close to an alleged native American site of significance.
Originally, the two protesters were arrested on May 25 for interfering with an easement on Bent Mountain property where pipeline workers were cutting trees. The protesters claim that they were in a safety zone far beyond the easement. They argue that they were there to monitor the burial site and to make sure that trees were only being cut within the parameters of the work site. Appeals are scheduled for September of 2018.
The local owner whose property is involved in this conviction agrees with the defendants. In a statement to the press, the owner said that they didn't observe any interfering by the protesters. The property owner also claims that, despite a court order, the pipeline workers were doing damage to the property. No one from Mountain Valley Pipeline was available for comment on the case.
Individuals who are convicted of misdemeanors have the right to appeal. Investigators, prosecutors and other officials can make mistakes, and it's the responsibility of a lawyer to make sure the court addresses these issues when possible. An attorney can also advise a client when it's in their best interests to file an appeal or accept the decision of a judge or jury.