A 52-year-old Montana man who repeatedly called himself a “living natural man” was found guilty on Friday of obstructing a police officer and resisting arrest, putting an end to a series of heated encounters between himself and a judge he accused of acting like a “privateer.”
KAJ-TV reported that Ernie Wayne Tertelgte was removed from the trial before the jury was selected, amid his insistence that Judge Wanda Drusch had no authority to try him.
“Why — please, give me an honorable answer — is a British-recognized esquire asking questions in an American courtroom?” Tertelgte asked Drusch. He then refused to follow bailiffs’ instructions to stand up, saying, “If I stand up, I give you recognition,” and saying he was “constrained by the United States Constitution of 1789.”
Tertelgte was charged in connection with an Aug. 31 encounter with state game warden Adam Pankratz, who tried to cite him for fishing without a license at a state lake. When the suspect refused to identify himself, Pankratz called police for assistance. However, Pankratz said in court, Tertelgte still refused and repeatedly told the officers to “walk away.”
KBZK-TV reported that Tertelgte and Drusch also argued during a hearing earlier this month, with Tertelgte saying, “I am the living man, protected by natural law” and pointing at the U.S. flag while telling Drusch, “That is the Jolly Roger. That thing you call the American flag with the golf fringe around it is the Jolly Roger, and you are acting as one of its privateers.”
Tertelgte’s remarks seemingly mirror the rhetoric used by members of the “Sovereign Citizens Movement,” which supporters argue that they alone can decide which laws to obey and which to ignore. The Southern Poverty Law Center has reported that “sovereigns” believe that the American governnment “was secretly replaced by a new government system based on admiralty law, the law of the sea and international commerce. Under common law, or so they believe, the sovereigns would be free men. Under admiralty law, they are slaves, and secret government forces have a vested interest in keeping them that way.”
Watch KAJ’s report, aired on Saturday, below.
And watch raw footage of Tertelgte’s earlier appearance in court, posted by KBZK on Nov. 19, below.