Do environmental concerns justify snooping and trespassing?

November 23, 2011 | By JENNIFER THOMPSON

Check out our new Coastal Guardian to learn about the amicus brief we filed in Norris v. Witter, a case in which the Court of Appeal found that defendants who trespassed on their neighbors’ property, took photographs, and reported what they saw to the Coastal Commission, were immune from liability.  The court reasoned that because the private necessity defense can be used to benefit a third party, that could include the general public’s interest in preserving environmentally sensitive habitat areas.  PLF’s brief urges the California Supreme Court to take up the case in order to affirm the traditional, proper understanding of the private necessity defense: it only applies in an emergency, where human life or property is at risk.  It does not license environmental vigilantes to snoop on their neighbors.