Judge Dee Benson Sentenced Tim DeChristopher to Two Years Federal Prison

Judge Dee Benson sentenced Tim DeChristopher to 2 years in federal prison. Tim was led away in handcuffs, but no before making this powerful statement. As time permits, I will write about the tortured logic Judge Dee Benson (former Chief of Staff for Senator Orrin Hatch) used to justify sending DeChristopher to federal prison AT YOUR EXPENSE, instead of graduate school at Tim’s expense.

Protesters who attended the sentencing began blocking traffic and are being arrested as I write this.


Tim DeChristopher Post Sentencing Protests Uncut from Cliff Lyon on Vimeo.

Thank you to defense attorneys Ron Yengich, Pat Shea and Elizabeth Hunt for an amazing job, pro-bono. They will file an appeal. Stay tuned.

Salt Lake Tribune Report, KSL story  



DeChristopher gets 2 years, $10K fine for botching federal auction – Salt Lake City Tribune

Activist gets 2 years prison for thwarting auction

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  1. #1 by Larry Bergan on July 26, 2011 - 7:30 pm

    I think it’s great that Utah matters in a positive way.

    Tim has made us proud!

  2. #2 by Cliff on July 26, 2011 - 7:41 pm

    When I got home at 6pm, I saw them all being arrested on channel 2. All the people in the circle blocking the street were being rounded up.

    Funniest thing: The protesters bound themselves together with zip ties which the VERY polite police cut off and replaced with identical gov’t issue zip ties.

    I must say, the police were incredibly cool and I noticed Rachael Carter was working with them all day right through till the arrests.

  3. #3 by Larry Bergan on July 26, 2011 - 8:04 pm

    There is only one word to describe the police in Utah.


  4. #4 by Albatross on July 26, 2011 - 8:12 pm

    Two words: political persecution

  5. #5 by Larry Bergan on July 26, 2011 - 10:58 pm

    How can a society which sends good people to prison and ignores the crimes of the powerful survive?

    I’m tired.

  6. #6 by Cliff Lyon on July 26, 2011 - 11:13 pm

    So tired me too. I am reminded The United States has 4% of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s incarcerated population

    Judge Dee Benson is just part of the incarceration machine. He wasn’t always that way. He’s made some unpopular decisions in the past. But that was before…

  7. #7 by brewski on July 27, 2011 - 8:36 am

    Under the “good intentions theory” one could just as easily take it the other way. If the area in question was deemed wilderness, and someone though that this was a bad thing for the local economy and job market, so they took it upon themsemselves as a matter of protest to cut a road and start drilling, then that person should be immune from prosecution since they did it all in their own feelings of “good intentions”. They truly believe in their heart of hearts that designating the place as wilderness would be a bad thing for the people of southern Utah, so they were merely using their right of civil disobedience to protest the loss of jobs for the families of southern Utah, and they only were breaking the law for “good intentions” so it doesn’t count.

    This is the logic of Tim DeChristopher.

  8. #8 by Richard Warnick on July 27, 2011 - 8:54 am


    The parallel you came up with isn’t hypothetical. It has happened many times with NO prosecutions. Here’s an example:

    In May 2009 Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab was one of the leaders of a protest ride by 200 ATV drivers along the Paria River — inside a BLM a wilderness study area on the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. This crime was committed in broad daylight and witnessed by BLM and county law enforcement officials.

    Nobody got so much as a ticket.

    In September 1996, San Juan County sent road graders illegally onto public land on Hart’s Point near Canyonlands National Park. Who was arrested? A protester who was trying to stop them.

    One protester, 33-year-old Dan Kent of Moab, Utah, was charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and “failure to disperse.”

    Let’s face it, there is no legal penalty for destroying wilderness — only for trying to save it.

  9. #9 by cav on July 27, 2011 - 9:01 am


  10. #10 by James Farmer on July 27, 2011 - 9:10 am

    brew: Are you trying to sound ridiculous today? If so, you are off to an incredible start! BTW, we are talking peaceful civil disobedience, not destructive disobedience, which describes precisely your incorrect analogy.

  11. #11 by brewski on July 27, 2011 - 9:35 am

    Thank you for your example. I do agree that those people should have been prosecuted and punished for whatever the punishment is for those crimes. Those people, just like DeChristopher, had and have all kinds of legal courses to argue their case. Breaking the law just because you don’t like it is no way to run a democracy. And we all need to keep in mind that in a democracy someone will always lose and be unhappy about it.

    James seems to be advocating the modified anarchy position which is civil disobedience is good if he agrees with you and bad if he doesn’t.

  12. #12 by James Farmer on July 27, 2011 - 10:09 am

    brew: Actually, why don’t you respond to my comment, rather than drifting off into your despised upon, but all too regular, ad hominem? I merely, and correctly, stated that your analogy was incorrect. One scenario involves no damage or violence, the other – yours – does. Apples and oranges.

  13. #13 by Peter Kirk Litster on July 27, 2011 - 10:15 am

    I was in the court room, and can honestly say that Tim’s statement was amazing. Cool, fearless, respectful without being pandering, resolved. Never once in his 30+minute statement did he deviate from process and wander off into emotionally vacuous bullshit, which is always a risk in circumstances like this. He stayed precisely on topic, and did so in a way that literally captivated the room. His statement took us from laughter to tears to steady, dead-serious resolve. I was very proud of his performance.

    the really impressive irony came when Judge Benson explained one justification for his sentence being to “deter ” others from “similar lawbreaking”. 26 people were later arrested for civil resistance actions outside the courthouse. His deterrent seems to be working like a charm. He should recosider changing that from “deter” to “firmly embolden”

  14. #14 by brewski on July 27, 2011 - 10:53 am

    I am sure that some slick attorney could come up with a long list of “damages” caused by DeChristopher. It wasn’t like he was just waving a protest sign or something. He wasted the time and money of everyone at the auction and caused others to pay more for their leases than they would have if he had not broken the law. I am sure in civil trial that a judge would award “damages” to the plaintiff.

  15. #15 by James Farmer on July 27, 2011 - 11:07 am

    brew: So you see no distinction between destruction of the environment (your analogy) and monetary damages?

    PKL: Thanks for sharing your experience. I hope someone recorded Tim’s statement, or at least someone will acquire a transcript of the proceedings and prepare an audio of the statement.

  16. #16 by Richard Warnick on July 27, 2011 - 11:10 am

    It was reported that DeChristopher bid up the price of lease parcels that he won, and some he didn’t win. I haven’t got time to verify this, but since none of the leases went through, I doubt that in the end any money changed hands as a result of this auction. Unless you count the $10,000 fine levied by the judge.

    DeChristopher’s action did expose the collusion in the bidding, which routinely enables the oil & gas industry to get leases below the fair market value.

  17. #17 by brewski on July 27, 2011 - 11:16 am

    James, it doesn’t matter if I think there is a distinction or if you think there is a distinction. What matters is that letting him off sets the precedent that having “good intentions” means you don’t have to follow the law. You open up that defense to anyone who doesn’t like the outcome and doesn’t want to slog through the hard work of the legal democratic process, which by the way, worked without DeChristopher.

  18. #18 by Peter Kirk Litster on July 27, 2011 - 11:48 am

    The legal process “works” without a lot of people, because we can’t afford lawyers and lobbyists, and I know that we can’t necessarily trust those who can afford them to act in the interests of the rest of us. Tim did succeed in at least one important thing. He expose the corruption in the public land auction process, even if by no other effect than provoking this discussion. Praise whatever god you’re into that he accomplished considerably more than that.

  19. #19 by Peter Kirk Litster on July 27, 2011 - 12:01 pm

    …and will continue to.

  20. #20 by Richard Warnick on July 27, 2011 - 12:10 pm

    No one, least of all Tim DeChristopher, is arguing for “letting him off.” Civil disobedience always includes accountability. What we want is for the punishment to fit the crime. A two-year prison sentence is clearly excessive.

    I’d like to give brewski credit. When I asked him to apply his principles to the UN Convention Against Torture and the federal anti-torture statute, he did not claim that the torturers had good intentions that exempt them from legal sanctions. Now if we could only get the DOJ to do a real investigation…

  21. #21 by Rico on July 27, 2011 - 12:22 pm

    To add insult to injury, the auction that Tim disrupted was ultimately determined to have been illegal if my memory serves me correctly.

    Federal prison time for disrupting an illegal auction.

    Taxpayer dollars being spent to incarcerate someone who attempted to prevent an illegal act.

    Meanwhile, Noel and Habbeshaw wander the streets of Kane County free men.

    We’re down the rabbit hole now ain’t we? Wheee!

  22. #22 by Peter Kirk Litster on July 27, 2011 - 12:23 pm

    I was wondering what Judge Benson had been smoking when he stated that we have electoral remedies for handling our grievances HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! *deep cleansing breath* HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! *Wipes tears* HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! *passes out from uncontrollable laughter*.

    Those processes have been corrupted by the same interests for the same purposes as that auction. Perhaps if Judge benson came down from his perch and lived as a commoner for a while, he’d get that.

    “Electoral solutions”… “Democratic means”… good lord. Maybe for his class, but that’s a tiny minority.

  23. #23 by cav on July 27, 2011 - 12:35 pm

    Im impression, given all of the above, is: Christopher will get time off for good behavior.

    His behavior is good. Better than most.

  24. #24 by Peter Kirk Litster on July 27, 2011 - 2:26 pm

    I’ve been where Tim is, albeit with less-stern consequences. I’ve also worked in electoral and campaign politics, which is why Judge Benson’s suggestions of “alternative remedies” make me laugh. Silly rich person.

    On a slightly obliquely related note, and speaking of Mike Noel and his radioactive crew, I just had an idea for an alternate name for that one nuke waste disposal company: “Electoral Solutions”.

    And the nuke power company that wants to plop one of those lethally radioactive water pigs on the Green River: “Democratic Means Holdings, LLC”.

    On another related note, and speaking as well of other examples of actual crooks who oughta be put in the cooler for a while (at least), I’ve received reports from young acquaintances of mine who work at gas stations in my rural American home region that the Halliburton and KBR thugs who service the oil and gas rigs around there treat the locals like a population under military occupation- sexually harassing the women, thugging the men, generally being rowdy loud-mouthed bullies at grocery stores and bars…

    Sounds like there really is harm being done, like fer reals yo, and even worse that the war “abroad” really is being brought home, only it’s not the Muslims doing it… it’ the minions of uncle Dick Cheney and his circus of crooks and creeps.

    And Tim DeChristopher gets the pokey. It would be funny if it wasn’t so effing insidious.

  25. #25 by Rico on July 27, 2011 - 8:03 pm

    Preach it PKL.

  26. #26 by Peter Kirk Litster on July 27, 2011 - 8:34 pm

    Bam! 😛

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