Court unyielding to demand of ‘sovereign citizen’ squatters
PRESCOTT – The couple accused of squatting in a $900,000 Prescott home and who claim their “sovereign citizen” status exempts them from court jurisdiction aren’t getting any special treatment by Superior Court Judge Tina Ainley.
When Jennifer Skates appeared in court Monday, May 9, she pleaded to be allowed to confer with her husband, Randall Skates.
“Right now, your status is in custody. If the jail believes there is a security risk. I can’t override that,” Ainley said. “All I can do is tell you that if you continue to represent Jennifer Skates, you’re going to be held to the standard of others.”
The defendant teared up as she asked to speak with her husband and recited a Bible passage to support her theory that she and Randall were “no more twain, but one flesh.”
“We are one person, but we have two brains,” Jennifer Skates said. “And he knows some things and I know other things. So we need to be able to confer with one another.”
Deputy County Attorney Michael McGill said while he intends to offer a plea agreement, he was starting to question whether Jennifer Skates should be allowed to represent herself.
“I want to make sure the defendant understands that she has to make decisions that are in her best interest, irrespective and regardless of what (Randall Skates) says,” McGill said. “The state’s concern right now is that she’s not willing to answer questions and make decisions without conferring with someone else.”
Ainley reduced bond for Jennifer Skates to $20,000 and set the next court appearance for June 1, allowing time for the prosecution to prepare a plea agreement.
When Randall Skates appeared before Ainley later in the day, he was more prepared to argue his case and didn’t verbally request to speak with his wife. Instead, he presented 27 pages of motions and continued to defy the court’s authority.
“Again, I don’t consent to these proceedings, but since I’m under constraint, I’m forced to do something,” he said.
Ainley told him pretrial proceedings in no way reduced or limited his rights.
“You have the right to move these things along, so I want to make sure you understand that and make sure that what we’re doing next is what you want to do, to the best that we can,” she said.
The defendant continued his quiet, nonconfrontational tone, and proclaimed his religious views to the court.
“I would just like to let everyone know that I’ve confessed the salvation that Jesus Christ has brought us all and I hope that everyone else in the room has as well,” he said.
Ainley reduced Randall Skates’ bond, previously set at $1 million, to $40,000 and set aside 45 minutes on the morning of May 26 for oral arguments on the motions presented Monday.