Montana Day 1 Narrative

Leonard’s trial is moving along at a fast pace. Today we seated a jury, heard the prosecution’s case, and heard the first defense witness.

It was still dark when we left to meet Leonard this morning, and the ground was dusted with light ice and snow. Standing in the freezing cold in a sport coat, the man we all came to support looked radiant. Together, we strolled the few blocks to the community church, where Deb McGee and Patty Hine from Eugene, OR led a meditation and song circle for the 30+ people who gathered. Then, off to the Chouteau County Courthouse, just a few more blocks down the way.

We find ourselves baffled by the sweet ease of life in Fort Benton. The big winds are gone and the air is still, so still that when the flocks of ducks fly overhead we can hear their wings announcing themselves and it is bizarrely loud.

It’s clear to us that Leonard has assembled a fantastic legal team: attorneys Herman Watson from Bozeman, Lauren Regan of the Civil Liberties Defense Center, and Kelsey Skaggs of the Climate Defense Project. During jury selection Herman, composed and affable, looked at the jury and established his team’s principal intention:

“I want Leonard Higgins to be able to tell you his story.”

Read more

Day 1 End of Day Video

Social Media Roundup Day 1

Leonard's Partner Angela's Thoughts Before Trial

"This is the first day of my partner, Leonard Higgins’, trial, taking place at the Chouteau County Courthouse, in Ft. Benton, Montana. In just a few short hours we’ll gather for a devotional time, in which beloved friends met through years of climate activism and beloved family will sing, tell resonant stories from the history of this region, and hold silent meditation or prayer in support of Leonard’s intention in court. We’ll then walk to the courthouse through streets covered with new snow, veering between light and dark thoughts and emotions of how the days might unfold.
Read more

Morning Video Update: Day 1

Trial Logistics

Dear Friends,  

This is an post with a lot of logistical information for folks who are in Fort Benton for Leonard Higgins’s Climate Trial. Please share with your friends who are in town and may not have seen this yet.

Making an Impression

Last night we popped out for a beer and ran into a potential juror. We have the opportunity to be the bearers of Leonard and the Valve Turner story and I trust that we will all do so with the same thoughtfulness and love that the action was performed in. Fort Benton has a population of 1200 and we will quickly make impressions. Let us be kind and courteous and tip well.

Talking to Jurors

If you unwittingly come across a juror as we did, please do not talk about the case. You might unwittingly invalidate that juror’s participation and that juror might have been the coolest climate fellow in the whole county.


Once trial is underway, please refrain from talking about the case in public. We will all have thoughts to process about the words or actions of the judge and lawyers, but doing so publicly is not good or helpful. It’s really hard to refrain, I know - but please don’t do it :)

Courtroom No-Nos

Do not bring laptops or phones into the courtroom. This judge is stringent and someone was kicked out of Leonard’s hearing last year for bringing out a cell phone. Leonard’s lawyer Herman has said that if he sees you with a cell or laptop, he’ll kick you out himself. Also, please do not bring food or drink into the courtroom. You *might* be allowed a thermos with a lid but we’re not sure yet.


We are meeting at the Community Bible Church each morning. Pastor Joe Jordon, who goes by Joe, is so welcoming and gracious and has given us the use of the church and neighboring community center while we are here. Tuesday and Wednesday morning we’ll be meeting at 7:30am and Thursday we’ll be preparing food and eating together (times for that coming soon).

The morning program is as follows:
7:30: 10 minute silent meditation
7:40: music by Patty Hine and Debbie McGee
8am: Announcements, coffee, and visiting.
8:30: mozey 3 blocks to the court house.
Please come at any time, but try not to interrupt the silent mediation.
We are meeting in the accessory building behind the church.


Our shared meals with supporters begin tomorrow, Tuesday 11-21. Please come to help cook, clean, and eat at the Franklin House: 1105 Franklin St. You can check out this map to get a sense of where things are. Some of y’all are signed up for shifts, but I’m sure there will be a need for others to cut onions. Don’t be a stranger :)

If you still need lodging, check out the Fort Motel $60 nightly

Love, Nicky 

Fort Benton is truly Beautiful.


Climate Mock Trial: Valve Turner Leonard Higgins argues the Climate Necessity Defense

Three days before his trial begins in Fort Benton, Leonard Higgins presented his full climate necessity defense, with real expert witnesses, an acting judge, prosecutor and lawyers in front of a live audience at the University of Montana in Missoula on Saturday November 18th. 


Climate Mock Trial: Valve Turner Leonard Higgins argues the Climate Necessity Defense


Saturday November 18th - three days before he is tried by the State of Montana - Leonard Higgins will stand for a Mock Trial at the University of Montana, Missoula. Denied by the state the opportunity to present the necessity defense, Leonard Higgins will present his climate change case to the Court of Public Opinion.

WHAT: A magnificent production of Story: Leonard Higgins, retired state employee who closed the valve on Spectra’s Express Pipeline on a snowy morning in October 2016. Humor: Behold the spectacle of international renowned climate activists producing a play. The deadly Seriousness of Climate Cataclysm: wild fires and melting glaciers in Montana, hurricanes and drought around the globe. And the Necessity: acting like there is an emergency and taking direct action is the only reasonable response in a world of denial.

WHO: The defense is prepared to call, for the defense of the planet, the following expert witnesses: University of Montana climate scientist Professor Steve Running, civil disobedience expert Tom Hastings, and climate change and US secruity expert Andrew Holland. With presiding judge Bob Gentry, defense attorney Arnold Schroder, and additional support roles by Jeff Smith (350 Montana) and valve turners Michael Foster and Ken Ward. And YOU the Jury!

WHEN: Saturday, November 18th - 7pm Mountain Time (6pm PST)

WHERE: Live Online and at the University Center Theater at the University of Montana

Register today to join the live broadcast from the comfort of your own home.



MT #Climate Trial Logistics

This post should tell you everything you need to know about the logistics of attending Leonard Higgins’ Valve Turner trial in Montana. Please encourage others to sign up on the Montana RSVP for trial logistics and updates throughout.

This week we found that we have the historic opportunity to argue the necessity defense in Minnesota! Since we don’t have that opportunity in Montana, we are holding two trials! The first one will be an incredible in-depth look at the justification for action in these times of crises, with expert witnesses and real lawyers arguing before a “judge”, the second one will be Leonard’s actual trial. Check out Leonard's Fair Hearing by the Commons and the Montana #ClimateTrial event pages, and more info below.

See all the plans, ways to travel, sleep, and contribute in person and from afar...

Read more

Welcome to the Montana Trial Liveblog

Hi All! We are gearing up for the next valve turner trial: Leonard Higgins' trial in Fort Benton, Montana. Trial starts on November 21st. Stay tuned to this page for all sorts of updates about logistics and other information leading up to the trial, and then of course live updates during the trial proceedings itself.

If you're planning on joining us in court in Montana, please fill out the RSVP form here.

Contribute Take Action Now


get updates