It's nice to know that the United Kingdom, for all its snickering at the United States' current situation, shares a few problems with us. For instance, there are "sovereign citizens," those nutty folks who believe that exempting themselves from society's rules (like having to pay taxes) is simply a case of shouting out the correct combination of nonsense phrases, like they're trying to transform into the Green Lantern or something.
And like our sovereign citizens, those in the UK can't help but hilariously own themselves when placed in a courtroom. Earlier this year, elderly John Trimbell was arrested for obstructing police officers who were attempting to arrest his friend, getting up in the officers' faces and bellowing legislation at them for 20 minutes before attempting to lay hands on both of them. This ended about as well as you'd expect for a man of his age.
At his trial last week, Trimbell described himself as someone "who is extremely knowledgeable about the law." His first line of attack was to argue that his arrest was invalid because the officers involved had no legal right to enter his friend's home (where he was arrested). "Your rights as a police officer do not give you the authority to break common law," he said while cross-examining his arresting officer. "The fact a living man can refuse jurisdiction from a court is not known to many police officers." His proof of this? A similar case from 1980s Australia and a speech from the 1700s.
Trimbell then tried to dismiss the body cam footage of his arrest by arguing that it had been "cleverly edited" to remove the moment when he said the magical combination of words that meant he couldn't be arrested for trying to assault two police officers, before launching -- during his trial where he was accused of obstructing police business -- into this exchange with the prosecutor:
Trimbell: "I know that I obstructed police."
Prosecutor: "Can I just check, you said you obstructed police?"
Trimbell: "Oh yes, I did."
Somehow that was enough to convince the court that he was guilty, but Trimbell -- who was found guilty of assaulting another police officer in 2014, and was once jailed for attempting to make a citizen's arrest on a judge (during a trial, no less) -- has promised to appeal the decision in the coming weeks. That is, presumably after he finishes reading the chapter of his big fancy common law books with titles like Don't confess to the crime you're accused of.
Adam Wears is on Twitter and Facebook, and has a newsletter dedicated to depressing history facts. It's not as heartbreakingly sad as it sounds, promise!
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