Behold the Sovereign Citizen

jshawnFor the second time in about a week, Jshawn Washington stood before Judge Herrick and refused to speak with his attorney. I bet you’re wondering why. Because, he has declared himself a sovereign citizen no government or representative of the government shall have any say over him…never-you-mind the orange jumpsuit and shackles.

Ms. Carpinello is assigned defense counsel and if she were a lesser person she might take Mr. Washington’s refusal to speak to her a little more personally. She stood tall, well, as tall as possible for Ms. Carpinello, as Jshawn insisted that he would be representing himself. As is required by New York State Law, Judge Herrick attempted to ask some questions designed to determine the ability of the defendant to represent himself.

Herrick: “Are you making a request to represent yourself?”

Jshawn: “I am representing my ‘person.’”

Herrick: “I have to make a certain determination here Mr. Washington and you’re not representing anybody until I make a decision that you are capable of representing yourself. “


Herrick: “Do you have any mental illness for which you’ve been diagnosed?”

Jshawn: “No”

Herrick: “Did you graduate from high school?”

Jshawn: “I have gone to college,” (for a few months)

Herrick: “What course of study did you pursue in that brief time in college?”

Jshawn: “Criminal Justice.”

Herrick: “Have you ever previously been involved in the criminal justice system?”

Jshawn: “I don’t understand your question.”

Herrick: “What courts have you appeared in?”

Jshawn: “I made a “special appearance” in Clearwater, Florida”

Herrick: “Were you convicted?”

Jshawn: “No.”

Herrick: “Is that the Clearwater case the reason you are here?”

Herrick: “Explain to me, in your own words, what you are doing here?”

Jshawn: “Why?”

Herrick: “I need to know that you know why you are here.”

Herrick: “Do you understand what you have to do here? What is the next step?”

Jshawn: “File a writ of habeas corpus.”

Herrick” “Have you ever represented yourself in court?”

Jshawn: “Numerous times”

Herrick: “Ever in criminal or civil cases? Where?”


Herrick: “Do you wish to waive your right to be defended by the public defender’s office?”

Jshawn: “Yessir”

Herrick: “You understand that many pro se cases are unsuccessful?”

Jshawn: “I don’t understand that pro se thing.”

Herrick: “Do you understand that people who represent themselves are unsuccessful?”

Jshawn: “I am removing myself from this courtroom.”

Herrick: “I haven’t received any motions.”

Jshawn: “I just filed it this morning, I’m moving this case to the supreme court.”

Herrick: “Well, that tells me that you don’t understand the court system.”

Herrick: “Do you mean New York Supreme Court?”

Jshawn: Shrug

Herrick: “You understand that if you sent them papers they are just going to sent them back to me?”

Jshawn: “I don’t have to answer your questions.”

Herrick: “Yes you do have to answer my questions.”

Jshawn: “Show me a law that I have to answer your questions.”

Herrick: “I don’t have to show you anything…the defendant is remanded.”

Who knows what will become of Jshawn, will he be extradited to Florida to face the pending charges which, near as I can tell, are for the sale of hydrocodone? (or oxycodon...I don't know what this crap is.) This is the first I’ve personally seen a sovereign citizen this up close and personal though I’ve heard there are many surrounding me. However, this is certainly the first time I’ve seen a "black" sovereign citizen who seems to have a history of legal troubles.

Ya see, this sovereign citizen thing has its roots in the groups that are traditionally thought of as the “old white boy” thing. One of the many things the sovereigns do is attempt to tie up the court systems by flooding them with “pro se” filings in the Supreme Court and lower courts. Seems these  "old white boys” have unwittingly spread their theories into the correctional facilities where they are getting an assist in flooding the court systems. Can you imagine each judge spending this much time dealing with each and every prisoner who declares themselves sovereign?

While I may be entertained by Jshawn Washington in his nearly illiterate attempt to avoid extradition to Florida, there are, I’m told countless Jshawns who have adopted this next iteration of a “bible thumping,” soul saving, redemption delivering, one-size fits all courtroom weapon to tie up the system. While I find the sovereign movement rather intriguing, I take issue with the hijacking of the judicial system by using the uneducated inhabitants of the system to strangle it.

Heck, if Mishler needs an assist, he’ll ask for it.

[On Tuesday, the Courthouse Cafe is serving up new Specialty of the House today and I've got a smile on my face. It's a Roast Beef and Cheddar on Ciabatta Bread with Carmelized onion and Horseradish Sauce...that comes with the regular sides...guess what I'm ordering. Also on the menu is the Turkey BLT wrap also with the regular sides.

The quiches of the day are the Lovely Lorraine (call ahead to reserve your delicious slice!) and Broccoli Cheddar. The Soups of the Day are Creamy Turkey Vegetable and Chicken Noodle. See ya at the Cafe!]

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