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Sep 25, 2009 12:12 PM by Associated Press

Judge to hear arguments in drilling auction case

A federal judge will hear arguments Friday to decide whether a college student charged with disrupting a federal auction for oil and gas drilling leases in Utah can claim he was acting in the interest of the greater good.

Tim DeChristopher says he wanted to protect wild lands near Utah's national parks from drilling and call attention to climate change. That would be the so-called "lesser-of-two-evils defense" of committing a crime to prevent a greater one.

Federal prosecutors are asking a judge to block that defense.

The motion is scheduled to be argued before U.S. District Judge Dee Benson in Salt Lake City on Friday morning.

DeChristopher has pleaded not guilty to felony counts of interfering with and making false representations at a government auction.

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