Philly ‘sovereign citizen’ claims ‘common law’ immunity from prosecution for bank robbery
A self-described sovereign citizen charged in an armed bank robbery near Philadelphia wants to represent himself and tried separately from his two alleged conspirators.
Ishaq Ibrahim, 28, is charged along with 26-year-old James Byrd and 22-year-old Wesley Davis in the June 19, 2013, holdup of a National Penn Bank branch in Lower Pottsgrove Township, Pennsylvania.
“I wish to defend me and my own person,” Ibrahim told a judge Monday. “I wish to contract with no attorney or anything like that.”
Judge William Furber Jr. allowed Ibrahim to be tried separately, reported The Mercury News, but he appointed an assistant public defender as “standby counsel.”
The judge also allowed Ibrahim access to the library at the jail where he’s being held on $1 million bond.
Ibrahim – who has suggested that he is not subject to U.S. laws or government proceedings — has repeatedly claimed that prosecutors have no authority to try him and has also interrupted the judge and challenged his jurisdiction over the case.
“My ruling is I do have the jurisdiction and that ends it,” Furber said.
Ibrahim has challenged a search warrant issued during the investigation and questions whether the charges are criminal or civil.
“I’m a sovereign citizen of a sovereign state and my common law rights have been withheld and denied,” Ibrahim said.
Sovereign citizens argue the state cannot be a claimant under common law – which is based on custom and judicial precedent, rather than statutes – and so believe that prosecutors illegally pursue criminal cases.
Ibrahim is accused of robbing the bank with Davis while Byrd acted as the getaway driver.
Police said Ibrahim jumped over a teller counter, shoved a gun into the teller’s side, and ordered her to take out cash and place the money in his bag.
All three suspects were arrested a short time later after a pursuit, and police recovered more than $11,000 stolen in the heist.
Another self-described sovereign citizen from Philadelphia was convicted last week in connection with a home invasion robbery.
Kevin Green, who has gang ties and a lengthy criminal record, will be sentenced in September in connection with that case.