Photo Credit: Our Children's Trust
Photo Credit: Our Children’s Trust; Photo depicts two youth Plaintiffs at a rally receiving high-fives from supporters with the following words overlayed: “Mark your calendar! Trial of the century for #youthvgov starts October 29, 2018”

During a public case management conference on April 12th, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin set October 29, 2018 as the trial date for Juliana v. United States , the constitutional climate lawsuit brought by 21 young people and supported by Our Children’s Trust. The trial will be heard before U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken in Eugene, Oregon.

Julia Olson , executive director and chief legal counsel of Our Children’s Trust and co-lead counsel for youth plaintiffs said:

“We have our trial date. In the coming months there will be depositions of the parties, defendants’ disclosure of their experts, and expert depositions in late summer. We will build a full factual record for trial so that the Court can make the best informed decision in this crucial constitutional case.”

DOJ attorneys representing the Trump administration told Judge Coffin that the trial date he set “won’t work” for defendants. They claimed they needed additional time to address expert witness reports and find rebuttal experts for every one of plaintiffs’ experts, to which Judge Coffin asked:

“Where am I missing something? Given your admissions in this case, what is it about the science that you intend to contest with your rebuttal witnesses?”

The Court also made it clear that it is not going to make decisions on summary judgment motions before the full record at trial, despite defendants’ intentions to move to summary judgment prior to October 29.

Sophie Kivlehan , 19-year-old plaintiff from Allentown, Pennsylvania said:

“It is a relief to see that the Court understands how imperative it is to get this trial underway as soon as possible, despite all of the delay tactics the U.S. government continues to try to use. I am

so excited to have an official trial date on the calendar again so that we can finally bring our voices and our evidence into the courtroom!”

Juliana v. United States is not about the government’s failure to act on climate. Instead, the 21 young plaintiffs assert that the U.S. government, through its affirmative actions in creating a national energy system that causes climate change, has violated their constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property, and has failed to protect essential public trust resources. The case is one of many related legal actions brought by youth in several states and countries, all supported by Our Children’s Trust, and all seeking science-based action by governments to stabilize the climate system.