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.
He appeared before the judge via video from the Gallatin County Detention Center, and it was standing room only more than a dozen friends and family members filled the small courtroom.
Tertelgte appeared subdued and respectful before the Justice of the Peace during Tuesday's court session, which went very differently than his court appearance earlier this month, where Tertelgte and Three ForksCity Judge Wanda Drusch got into a heated exchange.
Terteltge argued that the court did not have the authority to charge him, citing "natural law."
He told the judge, "You are trying to create a fictitious, fraudulent action." He continued, "I am the living man, protected by natural law."
He then yelled, "Do not tell me to shut up! I am the living, natural man, and my voice will be heard!"
Terteltge then pointed at the flag and said, "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!"
When the judge noted that he had pleaded not guilty, Terteltge countered, "I never plead, animals plead, sounds like baaaa, oink oink." The back and forth exchange continued for a few more moments, and the hearing ended after both the judge and the defendant walked out.
This time, extra law enforcement officers were in court Tuesday and the proceedings happened without any outbursts.
A friend of Tertelgte's told us that he and the others came to court to enforce the Constitution.
William Wolf said, "It's we the people that run this and rule this country, not we the courts, not we the government, and if the people don't start standing up for themselves and for each other, we are going to continue being subjects of this government."
Justice Adams set Tertelgte's bond at $500 and his next court hearing is scheduled for January.
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