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Montana Mountain Man Sent to Jail After Refusing to Remove Hat

Ernie Wayne Tertelgte, the self proclaimed “natural man” who became an internet sensation for his pro se defense of his fishing rights in a Montana courtroom, was sent to jail on January 27 for refusing to remove his hat in court.

In her piece titled ‘Montana man sent to jail for courtroom contempt,‘  MTN News Reporter Beth Saboe, who was apparently at the scene, described the hearing this way:

The hearing opened with a request by Justice of the Peace Rick West that Tertelgte remove his hat in the courtroom. Tertelgte repeatedly refused and then walked toward the exit, as if he were leaving.

West warned him that he would be held in contempt if he did not remove his hat and return to the front of the courtroom. But Tertelgte did not comply and he was taken into custody. He was then sentenced to 30 days in jail and given a $500 fine.


Tertelgte became famous for a court appearance back in November of 2013 (see video above) in which he appeared on charges of fishing without a license, obstructing a peace officer, and resisting arrest.

During short court appearance (less than 15 minutes) Tertelgte argued on natural law grounds that the state could not prevent a hungry man for foraging for food. Turtelgte pointed out that the U.S. flag in the courtroom was “gold-fringed” and called the flag the “Jolly Roger” and the entire hearing a con.

The original hearing ended with both Tertlgte and Three Forks City Judge Wanda Drusch walking out of court after Tertelgte refused to recognize the court’s authority. It appears that Terelgte attempted to do the exact same thing this time, but was taken into custody at the door.

Video cameras were apparently not allowed in court at all during this hearing, likely because of the national attention Tertlgte garnered after his first appearance.

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