A judge threatened to jail an accused Capitol rioter after he repeatedly derailed a court hearing with nonsensical outbursts.
James Beeks, 49, was arrested in Milwaukee last week. He is accused of taking part in the 6 January mob attack on the US Capitol, and has been charged with obstructing Congress and unlawfully entering restricted grounds.
Before he was arrested, Mr Beeks starred as Judas in a travelling production of the musical Jesus Christ Superstar, and performed as a self-described “Michael Jackson tribute artist.”
That flair for the dramatic landed Mr Beeks in hot water during a virtual hearing on Monday, when Chief Judge Beryl Howell of the DC District Court bristled at his antics.
“I am an American standing under public law and I am here by special divine appearance,” Mr Beeks told the judge, according to Politico.
He then refused the services of two public defenders, at which point Judge Howell asked if he wished to represent himself.
“I cannot represent myself because I am myself,” Mr Beeks answered. “I reserve all rights at all times and waive none, ever.”
Judge Howell was not amused.
“That’s all gobbledygook,” she shot back. “I have no idea what you’re saying.”
The judge also remarked that according to two affidavits submitted by Mr Beeks, he appeared to consider himself a “sovereign citizen,” meaning he did not recognise the US government’s authority over him.
Mr Beeks denied this.
“I’m not a sovereign citizen,” he told the judge. “There’s no such thing. That’s an oxymoron and it’s even an insult.”
Refusing to engage in a semantic debate, Judge Howell made it clear Mr Beeks would have to accept the court’s authority if he wished to remain out of jail.
“A defendant who … objects to the rule of law is typically not released pre-trial,” the judge said.
After huddling with his lawyer, Mr Beeks agreed to cooperate. He was released under strict conditions, including that he observe a curfew and wear a GPS tracking device. He is due to appear at a Florida court on Wednesday for pre-trial services.
Mr Beeks is just one of 675 people who have been arrested in connection to the 6 January insurrection, when a mob of Donald Trump supporters, egged on by an incendiary speech by the former president, stormed the US Capitol.
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