Gordon Ormesher Jr. sat in court with no lawyer, no witnesses, no defense - and no building permit.
If he’d had the latter, he wouldn’t have been in court.
Following an unusual trial Thursday, Ormesher was sentenced to 30 days in jail for barring building inspectors from his land and refusing to get permits before constructing apartments near his Hayden Lake home.
During Thursday’s twohour hearing, the Spokane firefighter represented himself but called no one to speak on his behalf. Backed by a dozen supporters - some armed in court with breast-pocket versions of the U.S. Constitution, one carrying a book called “The Road to Serfdom” - Ormesher refused to acknowledge the court’s jurisdiction.
“I’m sorry, sir, I cannot participate in this trial,” he repeatedly told Judge Paul McCabe.
Building violations rarely lead to jury trials and jail, but Ormesher’s case escalated because he repeatedly ignored the law, prosecutors said.
“Normally, people just rectify the problem,” said Scot Nass, deputy prosecutor.
The verdict surprised no one.
While the jury deliberated, Ormesher emptied his pockets and handed his belongings to family members. When jokingly told his first jail meal would likely be ham and beans, Ormesher threw his fist in the air and whooped.
“I love ham and beans,” he shouted. Moments later he was led away in handcuffs.
The case did not amuse the judge. He called Ormesher’s misdemeanor a “deliberate, conscious” violation and told Ormesher he wasn’t being fined “because you wouldn’t pay it anyway.”
“I have dealt with people with similar philosophies,” McCabe said. “You feel you can march to a different drummer.”
Ormesher is the son of self-avowed patriot Gordon Ormesher Sr. The father’s home may fall to the auction block in September because he paid property taxes in worthless promissory notes.
Late last year the younger Ormesher filed “commercial liens” seeking $25 million each from more than a dozen county officials he claimed violated his rights or trespassed on his land. State attorneys have deemed the documents worthless.
Ormesher Jr.’s trouble started in October, when he began building apartments near his home on Foxborough Court. When building officials told him he needed permits, he posted “No Trespassing” signs around his yard and sent warning letters telling government officials to stay away.
When asked outside court Thursday why he didn’t just get a permit, Ormesher said “this isn’t about building permits.”
Supporters said requiring building permits on private land of 20 acres or more is not a law. It’s not a criminal offense because no one was injured, some said.
“Building permits are for corporations, they’re not for a guy’s home,” said supporter Karen Brace.
One supporter, who identified himself only as Dan, said the court flag’s gold fringe proved it was a military-style court - the wrong jurisdiction for this case.
“There’s a distinction between an American citizen and a U.S. citizen,” he said. “Gordon is an American citizen.”
The man insisted that U.S. citizens only include those who live in the District of Columbia and military personnel. American citizens are the rest of the country’s residents.
Prosecutors said the charges were ridiculous. Ormesher’s rights weren’t being ignored - the law was.
“Upholding the integrity of the law is as important now as it has ever been,” Nass said.
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