Man who challenges court's patience is held in contempt
WILLMAR -- Thursday was not court-as-usual for Kandiyohi County District Judge Donald M. Spilseth. Instead, a defendant -- with an apparent certainty that conspiracy surrounds him -- tested Spilseth and the courtroom's patience by refusing to ans...
WILLMAR -- Thursday was not court-as-usual for Kandiyohi County District Judge Donald M. Spilseth. Instead, a defendant -- with an apparent certainty that conspiracy surrounds him -- tested Spilseth and the courtroom's patience by refusing to answer questions, defying orders and outright mocking the court.
Terry Dean Nemmers, 44, of Glenwood was held in contempt and ushered off to the Kandiyohi County Jail under a 90-day sentence. Nemmers was appearing in court Thursday after charges he faced were amended to include a felony count of aggravated forgery. He is scheduled to be in court again at 10 a.m. today.
But because of Nemmers' alleged behavior, the court hearing did not go as planned.
According to the court order sentencing Nemmers to 90 days in jail for contempt, Nemmers was disruptive and unresponsive at his hearing. Nemmers allegedly remained seated when told to rise for the judge, refused to come forward and sit at the counsel table and responded with "irrelevant rhetorical question(s)" when questioned by the court.
The order, signed by Spilseth, was filed Thursday after Nemmers was taken to jail. Spilseth also noted in the order that Nemmers wore a shirt proclaiming "NO KANGAROO COURT," which was found to be disrespectful.
More writing was on the back of the shirt but was not recorded in the order.
According to Merriam-Webster online, a kangaroo court is, "a mock court in which the principles of law and justice are disregarded or perverted."
During the hearing Thursday, prosecuting attorney Shane Baker asked for Nemmers to be held in contempt for 30 days. Spilseth instead ordered 90 days of jail time. "The unresponsiveness, disorderly, disrespectful and disruptive conduct of the defendant in the presence of the court constitutes contemptuous conduct," Spilseth stated in the order.
Spilseth went on to state that Nemmers must make a "good faith statement" in writing to comply with the rules of the criminal proceedings in order for the case to continue. If Nemmers makes the statement, the remaining jail time he faces for the contempt charge will be vacated.
Spilseth rescheduled the hearing for today as an option for Nemmers to participate cooperatively and provide his written statement to the court. However, Spilseth stipulated in the order that the court would not hesitate to use physical restraints, including gag devices, if Nemmers continued to be disruptive.
Nemmers was arrested and charged after an incident Oct. 12 when he was caught driving a vehicle with fake license plates. The plate read "JOHN 7:24," which apparently refers to a passage in the Bible that says to not judge on appearance, but judge righteously.
According to the complaint, Nemmers refused to identify himself to the officer and said he would speak only to a judge. A Willmar police officer found Nemmers' expired driver's license in the vehicle, but the license did not have a photo of Nemmers. The photo shows an empty chair.
Nemmers was originally charged with a gross misdemeanor for intending to evade taxes and a misdemeanor for driving an unregistered vehicle. The felony charge was supposed to be added to the list Thursday, but a full explanation of the charge was not given because of Nemmers' alleged actions.
At Nemmers' first appearance Oct. 13, he wrote all over the release form when asked to sign it. The release form lists the conditions a defendant must meet to be released from jail, including bail, bond and other stipulations.
On the release order Nemmers wrote phrases such as, "are you a righteous judge or an unrighteous judge," and "Act 5:29 we must obey God rather than men." Nemmers also crossed off a line on the form and referred to the bond amount as "ransom for kidnapping."