Ejected from Court, Sovereign Citizen Still Convicted in Child Sex Assault ⋆ Epeak . Independent news and blogs
His own attorney expressed frustration with Muniz’s “sovereign citizen antics” after he attempted to delay and disrupt the criminal proceeding that concluded last week when a jury returned four guilty verdicts against him.
The case is only one of several recent instances throughout the United States where the disruptive and sometimes violent behavior of sovereign citizens is impacting the criminal justice system.
Muniz was arrested in June, 2015 after police were called by a woman who said she saw him molesting a 12-year-old boy. Muniz was charged with sexual assault on a child after confessing to detectives that he “had engaged in sexual contact with the victim possibly over 100 times,” the Grand Junction Sentinel reported.
Muniz, 37, told District Judge Valerie Robison shortly before the trial began that he wanted to represent himself at trial – a common technique of sovereign citizens.
The judge questioned that decision, noting that other criminal defendants in Mesa County, Colorado, who she said appeared to be “strategizing from jail to delay their trials by alternately representing themselves and asking for appointed attorneys,” the newspaper reported.
The judge said she didn’t want the trial delayed and appointed a defense attorney to be standby counsel if Muniz represented himself. On the first day of trial, Muniz asked for a delay, but it was denied by the judge.
The defendant then became disruptive, saying that he didn’t consent to the proceedings and objecting to the judge’s authority. When his disruptive behavior continued, the judge found Muniz in contempt and ordered him removed from the courtroom while the trial continued for two days with him absent.
At one point, Muniz was returned to the courtroom to hear the judge explain he could testify in his own defense or remain silent. During that 30-minute exchange, the defendant again questioned the judge’s authority and said she was oppressing his constitutional rights.
Muniz objected to the trial proceeding, and said the court-appointed defense attorney was not his attorney. He also claimed that the nature of the charges had not been explained to him.
“It is disingenuous … that you now say that you don’t understand,” the judge told Muniz. “That is strategy, I believe.”
Muniz likely faces prison time when he’s sentenced in September.