- Bill Sheehy
- Central Oregonian - News
Last spring, after agreeing to plea not guilty to four game violations, a Post area rancher wasted little time butting heads with legal authorities.
>The Post rancher sentenced on game violations in 1999, apparently took his anger out by filing 'simulated' legal documents against the authorities, a felonious action
43-year-old Jay Edgerly Barnett was convicted of unlawful possession of game in the first brush with the court system and was sentenced to serve 10 days in jail. Last week Barnett was once again in court, this time facing 11 counts of simulating the legal process, a felony crime.
It appeared that Barnett had been unhappy with everyone connected with his earlier court experience, the victims in the 11 count indictment included nearly everyone involved in that case.
District Attorney Gary Williams was one of those named on Barnett's list, all being presented with documents that purported to be federal criminal complaints. One legal source, who did not wish to be identified, explained that this is a common practice of people who call themselves "Constitutionalists." Barnett has been identified in the past as one who believes in that political view.
Others on Barnett's list included all three local circuit court judges, Gary Thompson, Daniel Ahern and George Nelson, as well as other members of the DA's office, the corrections officer in charge of the jail at the time, the police dispatcher and several other local members of the legal establishment.
With all three local judges named, they were precluded to sit on the bench when the case came to trial. For the same reason, Williams was not called on to prosecute the case. Last week's trial was handled by Deschutes County Circuit Court Judge Mike Sullivan, and a prosecutor from the state's AG)s office was brought in to handle the government's case.
"Simulating legal process" is an Oregon statute amended by the Oregon legislature, Daina Vitolins of the state Attorney General's office said "to fix these kinds of situations." The situations she was talking about were when the defendant attempts to record liens on real property. The procedure, Vitolns explained, for placing a lien against someone is to first file and receive a judgment, and then based on that judgment, record a lien to ensure payment. Simply recording a lien as a means of tying up a property is illegal.
This is not Vitolins' first experience with so-called "Constitutionalists" and their practice of filing documents that purport to be legal papers. Typically, the documents are filed with various federal agencies such as the IRS, U.S. Treasury as well as state and county legal systems. The documents usually claim to be liens against the officials listed.
Recently Vitolins was successful in getting a conviction in a similar trial in Union County. These two convictions on the simulating legal process charge are the only ones in Oregon legal history.
Details of the activities that brought the charges against Barnett were scarce, as the state Attorney General's office was reluctant to discuss their case. Daina Vitolins did explain, however, that Barnett had entered a no contest plea on two of the 11 counts and was sentenced to 24 month probation and fined $500. The other nine counts were dropped by the court.
During his probation period, Barnett is prohibited from having any contact with any of the 11 persons named in the original indictment. He must also pay court costs and the legal fees charged by his public defender.
When asked if Barnett were to break any laws while on probation, in light of the prohibition from having contact with any of the three local judges, whom he would appear before. Vitolins said she believed an exception would be made in that case.
In the 1999 game violation incident, Barnett was charged with four game violations: hunting antelope without proper tags, taking an antelope out of season, false application for a game tag and possession of a game animal out of season. In March, 2000, the offender plead no contest and was sentenced to 10 days in jail. Having already spent that amount of time in the county jail while waiting trial, he was released. He was also fined $250 on a failure to appear charge.