Montana Living Natural Man Clarifies His Viewpoint and Stands His Ground In The Face Of The Court

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On January 28, 2014, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle states:

The self-proclaimed natural man has once again been found in contempt of court and taken to jail.

Ernie Wayne terTelgte, 52, appeared in Gallatin County Justice Court briefly Monday afternoon for an omnibus hearing. Judge Rick West asked terTelgte to remove his three-cornered hat in the courtroom. TerTelgte refused to do so and launched into his “Natural Man” speech. After asking the defendant to stop speaking three times, West held him in contempt of court and ordered sheriff's deputies to haul him to jail for 30 days.

The whole encounter lasted less than one minute. Judge West ordered that no cameras or recording devices be used in the courtroom. Anyone caught using the electronic devices would also be held in contempt of court, West said.

TerTelgte was slated to appear for the omnibus hearing in connection with a Nov. 18 incident in which he was charged with resisting arrest. Charging documents from Nov. 18 state a sheriff's deputy saw terTelgte in the Law and Justice Center and recognized him. The deputy was also aware that terTelgte had a warrant out for his arrest.

Deputy Matthew Boxmeyer tried to get terTelgte to put his hands behind his back so he could handcuff him. TerTelgte responded by telling Boxmeyer that he had no authority to arrest him. Three deputies took terTelgte to the ground and handcuffed him.

At terTelgte's initial appearance in Three Forks for fishing without a license, he insisted that he is “The Natural Man” and should have the right to forage for food for his family.

In a YouTube video recording from Jan. 22, terTelgte introduces himself as “the natural living man.” The video was posted to a Facebook page titled “Set free ernie tertelgte and find him NOT GUILTY!”

Gallatin County Undersheriff Dan Springer said law enforcement officials from other counties were not brought in to assist with court proceedings Monday. Two Bozeman police officers and eight sheriff's deputies were on scene at the Law and Justice Center. A metal detector was set up in front of Judge West's courtroom.

At terTelgte's last court appearance in November, 32 law enforcement officials from 10 different agencies showed up to keep the peace. TerTelgte was in court for fishing without a license.

After Monday’s hearing, terTelgte's friends and followers spoke brazenly outside the courtroom.

Joel Boniek, who referred to himself as an inhabitant of the state of Montana and friend of terTelgte, said the purpose of government is not to make citizens submit.

“You can go to jail simply because you don't take off your hat?” Boniek said. “That's bull-(expletive).”

Boniek went on to say that when government is abusing its powers, it should be held in check. Boniek was a candidate in the 2010 House District 61 Republican primary. He lost to John Esp of Big Timber.

“Good people must say something when the government is being unjust,” he said.

Friends of terTelgte have been holding what they call citizen grand jury meetings for the past few weeks at various locations around the valley. On Friday, the group will meet at the Garden Café in Manhattan. Steve McNeil, the man organizing the event, encouraged interested community members to attend.

McNeil did not elaborate about what the jury meetings entail but said he will be taking out ads in various papers to solicit interested jury members.

Through his court battles, terTelgte has garnered a loyal following of anti-government friends who want to keep the power of the courts and law enforcement in check. The pack says they are not a formal group and have not adopted a name.

Judge West did not indicate Monday whether terTelgte's case will proceed to trial without another omnibus hearing.

The following video published May 1, 2014

Ernie's arrest and conviction represented a foreshadowing to the conflict that currently plagues the United States over law enforcement.  When I was a child, I grew up in the mountains.  Our roads were sparsely populated, and there was one sheriff in a town of 4000 people.  The sheriff had to be above reproach in every situation, because the town was so small, that everyone knew every action in town, and the paper followed him.  He was well respected, and a good man.  

But I recall when my Dad got pulled over by a hiding motorcycle cop for speeding as we neared the city.  His words were, "where is my accuser?"  Who is pressing charges officer?  The officer said "I am."  My Dad would go on to say:  no, I'm sorry, you are a servant of the public, and on the job.  As such, you have no such right to charge me with any action, only to apprehend me if I have wronged a citizen who wished to press charges.  My Dad would then proceed to quote from the Constitution.  In those days, what he said would always hold up in local court, as he took the same story to the Judge.  In today's world, a District Attorney often has rights to prosecute even where an individual will not.  Local governances have been handed powers they should not have.  

I once had a 3 month old puppy, and was issued a citation when he escaped and ended up at the pound.  For failure to appear, I was issued a warrant, even though the puppy was too young to warrant a citation.  I was told I must prove the puppy was younger than 6 months old.  But a person in the United States is innocent until proven guilty, and the burden of proof lays on the courts, not on the individual to prove such puppy is under 6 months old.  Each town, each city, each county, each has it's own court system that varies in laws and regulations.  But the "business" of law needs to be corrected.  Collections for private turnpike fines are simply collections, not a jail-able court offense.  We need to quit using the courts as a means of collecting money.  Money goes to the courts to operate by way of property taxes.  All monies collected by the courts for fines and penalties need to be remitted back to the tax payers in the form of refunds.  Keeping additional funding out of the court system will remove financial motivation from fines.  Offering bonuses to officers and court officials based on good service and saving lives should be in the best interest of the people.  

Fishing licenses are issued to help cover the costs of stocking fish into a lake, covering the cost of the game warden, and to prevent over fishing the fish from a lake or pond.  If a private company was issued the responsibility of maintaining the pond and the fish, they would charge a fee, and a higher fee if you over fish.  If you didn't pay, they would send it to collections and ruin your credit.  If you couldn't pay, it could eventually end up in bankruptcy, or they could garnish your bank accounts with a judgement in court.  But when the government oversees fishing, you go to jail for not paying the fee.  This is an error in our current system that needs to be corrected.  Jails should be reserved for those who personally or physically cause harm to other individuals in the system, for those who are a danger to society.  

That's just my two cents.  I respect this man's conviction and his apparent knowledge of the U.S. Constitution and Montana Constitution.  What do you think of his argument?

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