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August 29, 2014

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Sovereign Citizen assigned counsel despite his objections

In trying to demonstrate court has no authority over him, David Brutsche says he neither wants counsel nor to represent himself

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Leila Navidi

David Brutsche appears in Las Vegas Justice Court at the Regional Justice Center on Friday, Aug. 23, 2013.

Sovereign Citizens in Court

Sovereign citizen David Brutsche appears in Las Vegas Justice Court at the Regional Justice Center on Friday, August 23, 2013. Launch slideshow »

A defendant's anti-government views are making it hard for him to acknowledge the court and difficult for the court to deal with his case, where he stands accused of plotting to kidnap Metro Police officers.

David Allen Brutsche, 42, declared in court today that he didn’t want legal counsel and he didn’t want to represent himself, seemingly because he refuses to recognize Las Vegas Township Justice Court.

This perplexed Las Vegas Township Judge Conrad Hafen, who appointed counsel against Brutsche’s wishes after determining he was incapable of representing himself.

Brutsche, who is part of the anti-government Sovereign Citizens movement, decried the case against him as fiction, making statements that his public defenders say indicate that he doesn’t believe the court has authority over him.

Brutsche and his co-defendant Devon Campbell Newman, 67, are facing one count of felony conspiracy to commit kidnapping after an undercover Metro investigation revealed a plot against Metro, according to police reports.

The two roommates were facing the harsher charges of conspiracy to commit murder and first-degree kidnapping with use of a deadly weapon, but those charges were dropped in an amended complaint filed this morning.

Campbell, who also appeared in court, accepted counsel without complaint.

Both defendants waived their right to a speedy trial in order to give attorneys time to review what both prosecutors and defense attorneys estimate is “hundreds of hours” of video footage from the police investigation.

Jessica Murphy, one of Brutsche’s public defenders, said that her goal in the next two weeks is to get Brutsche to the point where he can represent himself since he has a constitutional right to do so.

She said she is planning to appeal Hafen’s decision.

Murphy stressed that Brutsche has been polite even though the two are “naturally at odds” because she believes in the justice system and he does not. She also said she believes his umbrage stems from his stance that the case is unnecessary.

During the hearing, Brutsche kept saying that he wanted to "intervene" but that he did not want to represent himself.

His attorneys said they think he might see some sort of fundamental difference between the words “intervene” and “represent” that has to do with his conviction that the court’s involvement is preposterous.

Brutsche and Hafen got off to a bad start.

Hafen had to remind the defendant not to interrupt at the beginning of the hearing and shortly after ignored Brutsche’s request to be called by his first name.

Hafen decided Brutsche couldn’t represent himself after asking him a series of questions about Brutsche’s education, health and understanding of the advantage he would be giving prosecutors if he acted as his own attorney.

Brutsche said that he had passed the General Educational Development test, was in good health aside from being fed “garbage” in jail, and that he had “intervened” in court previously in a case against him for not registering as a sex offender.

Hafen said that he was denying Brutsche the opportunity to represent himself because he didn’t believe he grasped the seriousness of the case or had the legal background necessary.

If Brutsche is eventually granted permission to represent himself, the court would be under no obligation to provide him with equipment that would help him review the video evidence against him from jail.

It is possible that the Public Defender’s Office could be appointed as standby counsel, a scenario Brutsche also objected to in court. If that happens, Murphy said the Public Defender’s Office could help him get the tools he needed to review the evidence but wouldn’t help him go through it.

Brutsche has an unrelated case in Las Vegas Township Justice Court for failing to register as a sex offender that is set for preliminary hearing Sept. 10.

He was convicted in 1993 of lewd and lascivious conduct upon a child and in 2001 of indecent exposure with a prior conviction.

He is represented by the Public Defender’s Office in that case, according to court records.

When Brutsche’s court appearance ended today, with a preliminary hearing set for Sept. 26, Brutsche made a point of saying, “I need to object to the entire proceedings of this court.”

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