The Chimera of American Courts: Erne Tertelgte’s epic standoff

If anyone were to wonder what the Founding Fathers would think of America today, people might have had a glimpse when Ernie Tertelgte, age 52, represented himself in court against misdemeanor charges of obstructing a peace officer and resisting arrest relating to an Aug. 31 incident where he was cited for fishing without a license, according to KBZK. He argued that “universal law” allows him to hunt for food to feed himself.

Tertelgte then proceeded to continue talking and was asked again to remain silent as a dumb founded judge sat helplessly in her chair bewildered as to how to proceed.  The court room employees who process daily dozens of cases and over the course of a year, thousands—purely for the revenue that is brought to the courts through guilty pleas was uncertain how to proceed against Tertelgte’s statements which were as close to what might have been heard from 1776 to 1791 in America as anyone living today could hope to encounter.

“I cannot ma’am in honor of the Constitution of the United States,” he said. “I can’t allow a man who carries British recognition for the purposes of British ministerial law to continue to persecute me.”

“I cannot ma’am,” Tertelgte continued. “I have to honor the founder’s ma’am. I honor the memory of those who fought and died that we can be free of this type of thing.”

There were of course snickers from those who have become used to blind compliance at Tertelgte’s naiveté.  After all the Montana man was failing to recognize over 200 years of progressive legal manipulation, feel good policies, and the minds of many academic scholars who have added their own words to The United States Constitution over the years—the case law from many attorneys, the decisions of Supreme Courts, and the stump speeches and laws created by many Presidents.  Tertelgte simply wanted to be left alone to fish, but even the remote state of Montana had imposed itself into the basic food gathering activity demanding that those who wished to participate pay them a fee.  Most Americans have been broken like a beaten horse to do as they are told, to speak when they are told to speak, and to think what they are told to think—so Tertelgte’s words seem alien to them, spoken from a different time by a different people.

The argument that Tertelgte cited in court is essentially the same type of thing that the plot to my 2012 novel Tail of the Dragon was all about—a rural personality colliding with the statists of a court room and refusing to acknowledge their power over individuals.  That novel was based on my personal experiences in court which were so numerous that they nearly number the stars in the sky on a cold cloudless winter night.  Starting at about the age of 25, I stopped hiring lawyers and just did the job myself which really angered judges—because they expect their victims to pay the proper lawyer fees and to respect the game they are playing.  But when lives and fortunes are at stake, it is foolish to leave freedom to chance letting some snot-nosed lawyer who golf’s with the judge a few times a year to throw you to the wolves with politeness—or some invisible courtroom etiquette that is made up of legal tradition vacant of respect for individual rights. 

To the 30-year-old millennial who spent the night before the recent Thanksgiving thinking about their drunken college days in intoxicated bliss, but proudly displaying their teaching certificate from those days on a wall at their home, or a law degree over their office desk, the words of Ernie Tertelgte might as well have come from E.T. The Extraterrestrial.  Tertelgte is a dinosaur from another time and another place—a Constitutional purist that naively failed to give the modern minds of statism the time of day.  Those same millennial’s drinking heavily on the Thanksgiving’s Holiday watching YouTube clips of Tertelgte on their iPhones with upturned pinkies and giggling tirades lack a mind to even understand that it was Tertelgte who was right and they who were on the path to extinction.  As remote and distant as Ernie Tertelgte might seem to the modern human being, it is Tertelgte’s position which is sustainable, not the modern statist who accepts the fines of the court blindly without question and the authority of a judge to rule over their lives with an ignorance bred in Europe.

Tertelgte was right when he stated that the American court system was British ministerial law.  In the years after the formation of the Constitution—beyond 1791, the American people a little homesick from mother Europe bounced back into the mentality of their former rulers.  They did this by default—because freedom is hard, and requires people to be self-reliant.  Freedom requires gumption, and intelligence—aspects of modern life that are grossly missing.  Governments through their control of the school systems, the national park system, taxes, regulation, and virtually every facet of modern life have taught people not to think—to just turn up their pinkies around a beer glass and chug—then make fun of people like Ernie Tertelgte so to discourage others from following his example.

Europe and its policies of kingdoms, statism, princes, princesses, peasants and all the hierarchies of obedience was rejected in America for a brief time in human history, and The American Constitution captured that philosophy in a bottle to preserve for all time.  It didn’t take long for European loving lawyers, judges, and homesick settlers who knew of nothing else to snap back into the mentality of their homeland, and attempt to reshape the Constitution into a document that reminded them of home through case-law.  That is what the judge sitting helplessly upon her throne facing down Ernie Tertelgte in her court room—paid for by the subjects of her little kingdom–was measuring the bearded man in the tri-cornered hat against.  She wasn’t judging him by the American Constitution, but against 200 years of progressive erosion of that same document.  Tertelgte simply rejected that progressive erosion and insisted on the original interpretation of the American Constitution.

Of course Tertelgte was found guilty and fined $150, which he responded, “you are trying to create a fictitious, fraudulent action, 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!”   The only thing that Tertelgte said in all his utterances that was wrong was that the judge had already played her part in creating that fictitious and fraudulent action—and for many years had done the same to thousands of others.  Thousands of other judges just like her had done the same to millions, and millions of other people over the course of their lifetimes.  Out of all those people only Tertelgte and a handful of others have taken the time to challenge that fictitiousness with solid fact based on the actual Constitution.  The fiction is the judge and all the years of case-law generated through years of many people believing that through consensus belief trumps the original law of the American Constitution.   Then those illusionists insist that the participants of the legal system also take part in that chimera because the laws of democracy demand that majority will rules, and so long as the majority wishes to participate in a fiction, then that fiction becomes their reality.  Under that mentality people like Erne Tertelgte are the ones accused of not having his feet in reality, and are snickered at for not having a realistic understanding of modern law and its protocols.  But in actuality, the only one living by the Constitution is Tertelgte with a bold authenticity that deserves respect—even if it did cost him $150 bucks of stolen money from the court to justify their jobs for the entertainment of an epic American fiction called the court system.

Rich Hoffman