Joel Boniek – Dismissed his own case after Judge leftNovember 28th, 2012
We’ve all heard jury nullification… how about defendant nullification. In Livingston, Montana this week a just walked out of a courtroom while the court was in session while being heckled by an unruly crowd at the behest of the defendant, Joel Boniek. Once the judge was gone Boniek proclaimed himself in charge of the courtroom and dismissed his own case.
Boniek was arrested in July accused of obstructing a “peace” officer, resisting arrest and fleeing from the scene. For those that follow courtroom activism, those are the charges they throw at you when they nothing to actually accuse you of. Without knowing the facts of the incident, it’s impossible to know what really happened based on the charges. Prosecutors say he failed to stop at a roadblock on his way home, but then there’s no specific charges related to that.
He plead not guilty, and walked into a scheduling hearing in Park County’s Justice Court on Monday accompanied by an entourage of supporters. But instead of disputing the charges, he instantly disputed the authority of the prosecutor.
Coverage of the story refers to the prosecutor as “Deputy County Attorney Kathleen Carrick” but seeing as Boniek’s strategy relied on questioning her credentials as a county employee, and she never demonstrated that she had proper credentials, I suppose we’ll just call her “Kathleen Carrick.”
Throughout the hearing Boniek stffled attempts by Carrick to address the Judge saying, “why is this woman even speaking if she can’t prove she’s a public official?” His objections were rooted in a little known state law requiring county officials to be bonded and have proof of taking an oath. Carrick refuted his contentions saying Park County follows state law and fulfills the requirements specified in Montana’s legal code… but then she didn’t produce any evidence of this, which is the whole point.
As the tension in the hearing escalated Boniek’s supporters became more outspoken. When Judge Budeski told the crowd they were out of order on man shouted back, “No, you’re out of order!“ As the crowd erupted in heckling Judge Budeski suddenly left the courtroom. Court officers began ordering the crowd to leave but Boniek’s supporters refused. They asked to search Boniek for a concealed weapon and he refused.
Boniek said, “The judge has left the room, I’m in charge now!” He says he considers the case closed at this point. “The judge abandoned the courtroom, and I announced the case dismissed as the last man standing in the courtroom.” But the judge said the case is still on, just delayed. Maybe she didn’t have proof of her credentials either.
Joal Boniek is the former state representative of House District 61, in the Livingston area.
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