Judge Paul McCabe didn’t bother sustaining or overruling - he’s not even sure he understood the objections.
For the second day in a row Friday, a defendant objected to being on trial and refused to recognize the court’s or McCabe’s “jurisdiction.”
“I don’t understand their philosophy,” he said later during an interview. “They’re obviously a little misguided.”
Thursday, Spokane firefighter Gordon Ormesher was given jail time for building apartments near Hayden Lake without permits. During his two-hour hearing in District Court, he repeatedly told McCabe he was not a participant in his own trial. He called no witnesses, asked no questions and objected only to being there.
Friday, the same small crowd littered the same small courtroom to support another defendant fighting charges of another small crime with unusual arguments. This time, however, the approach was different.
Steven Sego, accused of driving with a suspended license, not only objected to being in court, but called friends as expert witnesses and cross-examined a police officer before dismissing him as not credible.
He then beseeched the jury for freedom with a sermon-like plea that invoked the U.S. Constitution, the country’s founding fathers and the Holy Bible. He told the jury “I’m doing this for you.”
Sego was given 14 days in the clink. He also lost his driving privileges for six months.
Sego’s case began when he was pulled over while driving through northern Kootenai County in September. A Spirit Lake police officer seized his driver’s license. It had been suspended because Sego had no insurance.
“It’s a straightforward case,” said Spirit Lake Prosecutor Richard Marshall after calling the officer as his only witness.
Sego cross-examined the officer with one question: What state was the license plate on Sego’s car from? The officer guessed Idaho. Sego said it was Montana.
“Not a very credible witness, are you?” Sego said.
Later, Sego called on friend Leroy Murray to explain the legal difference between a vehicle and an automobile. Marshall objected because Murray is not a legal expert. He’s a truck driver.
“We’re a bit like infants up here,” said J.A. Ormesher, a Sego supporter and Gordon Ormesher’s cousin. “We’re trying to learn the appropriate process and they won’t help us.”
Marshall said he supported protests by people who feel their rights have been violated.
“This just isn’t the proper place,” he said. “It’s disruptive to the legal system.”
McCabe barely lifted an eyebrow at presiding over two such cases in two days. He hasn’t seen any rise in their numbers.
“I think it’s just coincidence,” he said.
Cases involving people with constitutionalist-like beliefs just require more patience, he said.
“It’s all part of the job.”