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Op-Ed: ‘Living man’ defends himself in Montana court, judge walks out

By Paul Wallis     Nov 24, 2013 in Crime
Three Forks - In a true classic of law vs. man, a man charged with resisting arrest and obstructing a police officer while being arrested for “unlawful” fishing has given the justice system a lot to think about.
I don’t exactly go out of my way to read The Conservative Post, but this case has true liberal values involved, not least of which is the right of people to eat. The accused man, a gentleman called Ernie Tertelgte, had a lot to say, and he made a lot of sense while saying it:
From The Conservative Post article:
In a packed courtroom, 52-year-old Ernie Tertelgte told the judge “I am a living man protected by natural law and I have the right to forage for food when I am hungry… You are trying to create a fictitious, fraudulent action.”
Charged with fishing without a license and resisting the arrest for fishing without a license, Mr. Tertegte says he’s being wrongly prosecuted for trying to feed himself.
Tertelgte, 52 years old, was arrested on Monday and is accused of fishing without a license and then resisting arrest.
Mr. Tertelgte was a lot more adept at defending himself than “self-representation” might suggest. He took a stand which was both relevant to his case and a good defense of basic rights. He said that he had the right to forage for food, and cited multiple cases where that right was upheld, including a section of law.
Before we go any further with this case, think about this situation for a minute:
He was being arrested for foraging for food.
On what basis could people not have the right to try to find food?
Who would prosecute someone for doing that, and why?
Does it look like a healthy legal precedent to prosecute people for not wanting to starve?
What injury at law was done, and to whom, by Mr. Tertelgte’s actions?
Perhaps a fish or two, but not an injury to a legal entity, or someone who could claim to have had their interests damaged by his actions.
Mr. Tertelgte cited “natural law”, which is a synonym for the better known expression “natural justice”. Natural justice does actually have a parallel in the theory of “the reasonable man”, that is, a person who is acting reasonably in a legal issue.
Is it reasonable that Mr. Tertelgte should be expected to starve, or ignore food which he could get?
The judge, unfortunately for her, chose to pursue the arrest issues, not the basis on which Mr. Tertelgte was being arrested. That was a mistake, because it was the whole basis of the subsequent charges.
If the arrest itself was unlawful or unwarranted, Mr. Tertelgte could sue for serious damages. If he’s correct in his claim of multiple court findings affirming the right to forage for food, he’s right about the arrest charges.
The judge came off the worse in an exchange. Threatening contempt of court was also a dubious approach. Mr. Tertelgte was representing himself, so anything he said could be construed as testimony, not “contempt” as such.
(Point being, “contempt” is actual abuse of the court and its processes. Testimony the judge doesn’t like isn’t a basis for contempt charges.)
I’ll let Mr. Tertelgte speak for himself, as he so eloquently does, regarding his testimony. YouTube, that last great hope of democracy, has risen to the occasion yet again where mainstream media seems to be in a coma, missing the legals on all points. This is as important as any Civil Rights case, in its own way. From a search of Google News using Mr Tertgetle’s name I got five responses, none from major media.
The irony is that the court, however unwillingly and unresponsively, was an arena for playing out the legal issues of a basic right. I don’t know if they give Congressional citations for defending liberty any more, but he should get one. It’s taken decades, but I’ve finally found something about which I can agree with conservatives.
Link to video: Raw footage of Ernie Wayne Tertelgte in Three Forks Justice Court
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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