(CN) — A Colorado man indicted by a grand jury on 23 counts including criminal extortion, conspiracy and retaliation against a judge was denied a bond reduction at his first court appearance in Gunnison County on Tuesday.
Bond for 44-year-old Brett Nelson, who filed dozens of lawsuits against judges, clerks and mediators, remains at $300,000 cash.
According to the indictment filed in April 2022, Nelson made threatening calls and harassed more than a dozen named victims including 7th Judicial District Judges Keri Yoder, Donald Jackson and Ashley Burgemeister as well as Alamosa County Judge Daniel Walzl.
“The statewide grand jury obtained evidence and the record supports that over the course of approximately two years, Nelson filed multiple fraudulent documents, including powers of attorneys and default judgments against a variety of individuals including public officials such as judges and prosecutors, as well as victims and law enforcement officers associated with criminal cases in which he was charged as a defendant,” the 31-page indictment reads.
According to a press release, several of the alleged victims were associated with Nelson’s criminal and domestic relations cases including the mother of his child.
Senior District Judge Kenneth Plotz, who has been named in at least nine of Nelson’s complaints, is presiding over the state’s case against him.
“I would ask the court to remember that we’re talking about public safety,” said Nelson’s defense attorney Stephanie Grismer of the Denver firm Archambault Grismer Wetli. Grismer argued Nelson posed no safety threat given his nonviolent criminal history and his consistent court appearances.
Grismer argued the only reason Nelson didn’t appear in court over the last 10 months was at the advice of his previous attorney.
Crystal Littrill, special attorney from the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, objected to bond adjustment, saying Nelson had been hiding for the last year.
“He’s a public safety risk, he has weapons and has threatened U.S. marshals,” Littrill argued.
Nelson objected to Littrill’s characterization, countering that he had called the marshal in question to turn himself in.
Appearing from the Gunnison County Jail, Nelson wore a red jumpsuit and appeared to take diligent notes. Throughout the hearing, he claimed the court was denying him due process in his underlying arbitration claims.
“This case hinge-pins on the boldfaced lie that I did not go through arbitration when unequivocally I underwent arbitration,” Nelson told Judge Plotz, claiming Plotz had no authority to even preside over the case. Nelson told the judge the proceedings followed a “pretrial determination of guilt,” in a “kangaroo court.”
Plotz declined to lower Nelson’s bond and set arraignment for March 29.
“His comments speak for themselves,” Plotz said.
Nelson agreed to abide by Plotz’s restraining order prohibiting him from contacting any of the named victims or case witnesses. Determined to have the last word, however, Nelson said, “Mr. Plotz you terrify me, because you have absolutely no regard for my rights.”
Although his defense attorney declined to state whether Nelson is among Gunnison County's infamous sovereign citizens, he often signed his legal complaints on behalf of "the House of Nelson, sovereign of the court." His official seal resembles a pawprint with a mountain range carved along the bottom and rays of sunlight emanating from the top.
On its website, the FBI lists sovereign citizens as a domestic terrorist movement that causes “all kinds of problems — and crimes. For example, many sovereign citizens don’t pay their taxes. They hold illegal courts that issue warrants for judges and police officers. They clog up the court system with frivolous lawsuits and liens against public officials to harass them.”
The FBI labels such acts “paper terrorism.”
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