‘You’re Playing with the Wrong Judge!’: No-Nonsense Michigan Judge Cuts Off Microphone of Sovereign Citizen Defendant Who Tries to Defy His Authority

A Michigan man charged with felony fleeing, who fired his public defender and showed up in  Washtenaw County Court acting as his own lawyer, tried to match wits with no-nonsense Judge J. Cedric Simpson, who warned him, “You’re playing with the wrong judge.”

The April hearing has since gone viral on social media and is just the latest in a steady stream of courtroom dramas involving Simpson, who’s gained a viral following due to his irascible temperament on the bench.

This time, though, the judge demonstrated extreme patience with the defendant, Tarik Dey, who still got set straight by Simpson after he came to court thinking he had done his homework after being charged two months ago with third-degree fleeing and eluding from a traffic stop.

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Washtenaw County District Judge J. Cedric Simpson (Photo: TikTok video screenshot/courttv.247)

Dey joined the morning hearing on Zoom video call, chewing gum and wearing a hard hat, saying he had relieved the public defender of “any implied obligation to this case.”

“So you’re gonna represent yourself?” Simpson asked. 

“I’m defending myself, correct,” Dey said confidently. 

“OK, then you need to be here,” Simpson said abruptly, catching Dey off guard at first but he had a quick excuse.

“Well, as I told the court, I requested a Zoom hearing because I have COVID. So there is no way I could —”

Not letting him finish, Simpson cut in: “And you’re in the vehicle with a hat on, and no mask?”

But Dey seemed to have an answer for everything.

“Yes, because I’m inside my vehicle right now. I work outside, I’m away from the general public.”

When Simpson asked if he had been to the doctor, Dey said, “It’s against my religion.”

At this point, Simpson is ready to move on but agrees to allow the man to come in and represent himself, telling the clerk to reset the docket for Dey to appear at 3 p.m.

“I want you here,” Simpson said, instructing the man to “wear a mask” when Dey interjected, “I can’t make that, is there a later date?” — leading to a back-and-forth exchange with the judge. 

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“Oh, yeah, you can. Three o’clock!” Judge Simpson exclaimed, to which the defendant replied, “Three-thirty, I can make that.” 

Simpson wasn’t backing down: “Be here at three o’clock,” he said firmly.

But Dey remained defiant.

“Well, I’ll be there at three-thirty, and if there’s any issue, then we can …”

Running out of patience but remaining calm, Simpson warned: “And at three o’clock, I may issue a bench warrant. Be here at three o’clock. I’ll pass this matter. Thank you.” 

Dey continued arguing with the judge, claiming, “There is no bench warrant to be issued because the court doesn’t have jurisdiction.”

At this point, Simpson heard enough and ordered the clerk to “cut his line!”

Exasperated but finding humor in the moment, Simpson called for a brief recess, attributing the need for a break due to “everything going downhill” while joking with the court members about who was to blame for the mixup about the man’s defense.

Later in the day, the court reconvened at 3 p.m., and Dey wisely showed up on time.

“Sir, you indicated that you wish to represent yourself on this matter?” Simpson began as Dey stood at the podium in a yellow shirt, minus the hard hat.

“Yes,” he answered. 

From there, Simpson began discussing the felony, saying, “You understand at your arraignment you were given the charges that have been filed against you?” But Dey, at this point, tried to call out the judge on semantics.

“I was given a charge, so if there are any additional, I was not given those charges. The only charge I got was …”

“Fleeing and eluding, third degree,” Simpson finished for him.

Dey objected, but the judge clarified there was one charge.

“That is a felony punishable by up to five years incarceration, a $1,000 fine plus court costs, the Secretary of State would be required upon your conviction to suspend your license for a period of one year, do you understand that, sir?” Simpson asked and Dey acknowledged.

From there, Simpson warns the defendant that “there are some dangers in you representing yourself,” and Dey said, “I do comprehend.”

Dey then motioned for a dismissal, presenting a detailed but circuitous legal argument, suggesting he had studied the law.

“Based on the fact of the lack of probable cause and also the lack of a personal and subject matter jurisdiction, based on the fact that this is a trust matter from the name to the private conveyance that was stolen by the third party, Wall Street Towing, and impounded on the colorful actions of officer Trowbridge of the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department,” he said.

From there, Dey cites the Constitution to explain why his case should be thrown out.

“Also, I have not been able to, as of Constitution Amendment 6, being able to face my accuser with the state of Michigan being a fictitious entity and there’s no injured party. There’s no crime that had been committed. And again, to the probable cause of the initial stop and the arrest cannot be proven. There was no probable cause for the arrest.”

Dey still wasn’t done.

“So the stop, there was no warrant on hand for the arresting officer to conduct an arrest and even more so again, as I stated, this is a trust property. So, this court doesn’t have jurisdiction to adjudicate over the foreign trust.”

Unimpressed, Judge Simpson asked, “Is that it?”

But to his surprise, it wasn’t.

“Oh, no, actually I was also moving to place you and the clerk as fiduciaries over the trust,” Dey began again. “And I’ll be able to supply you all with adequate assurance, certificate of security to settle and offset the charges.” 

Finally, Simpson drew the line on Dey.

“Well, you’ll be doing nothing to me and nothing to my clerk. So whatever that motion was, that’s denied. As to your other motion regarding all of that, quite frankly, it doesn’t make any sense,” Simpson said calmly. “We haven’t even had the probable cause hearing. There’ll be a determination at the next stage as to whether or not there’s probable cause regarding charges.” 

Yet, this led to yet another fiery exchange.

Simpson looked visibly stunned but maintained his composure despite the man’s convoluted legal argument.

Next, Dey argues that he wasn’t able to provide all his exhibits based on the evidence. 

“You haven’t had a hearing yet,” Simpson told Dey while asking how he’d like to proceed.

At this point, Dey indicates that he wants to enter a “demurrer,” a plea in which a defendant does not dispute the facts of the case but argues that even if the facts are true, they do not constitute a legally valid claim.

Simpson asks, “So what are you asking for?”

Dey: “I stated that the prosecution needs to prove that a crime was committed… they also need to show and prove that there is an injured party for the crime to have ever been committed. 

Running out of patience, Simpson said: “As I’ve indicated, you will have that hearing. Do you wish to have discovery?”

Dey boldly challenged the judge, saying, “Discovery should be provided regardless. There’s no wish about it.”

Simpson tried to ignore the disrespect and keep things moving.

“Do you wish to have discovery?” he asks again before snapping on the defendant.

“Don’t play word games with me!” Simpson fumed.

“I’m not playing with you,” Dey responded weakly.

But Simpson sharply cut him off again, and the man wisely hushed.

“Do not play word games with me. You’re playing with the wrong judge.” 

Not one for games, Simpson said, “You can smile and smirk all you want. I’m giving you your warning. I will ask you again: Do you wish to have discovery provided to you?”

“Yes,” Dey answered.

Simpson orders copies of the discovery, including the police report, to be handed over to Dey. 

Moments later, Dey asked for a jurisdiction hearing. 

“What kind of jurisdiction hearing?” Simpson asked. “Go ahead and raise it so I can deal with it right now. What’s the personal jurisdiction? 

Dey explained: “This court as well as the state lacks personal jurisdiction. I’m simply here under duress of coercion of you saying that you would put out a bench warrant for my arrest.”

The defendant then cited “Article 1, Section 10, Clause 2 to the United States Constitution,” saying “there could be no legislative laws that could intercede or to interrupt the functioning of a contract, which the trust is and is properly. And the trust is properly functioning at this time.” 

Simpson then schooled the man on the law.

“All right, so here’s what we’ll do because you’re rambling again. So what we will do is you will put all of your jurisdiction arguments in writing. Because you’re wrong. So we might as well get it in writing that you’re wrong,” he said. “Because I have subject matter jurisdiction over you, and I have personal jurisdiction over you. Under the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the state of Michigan. So if you want to put your objections to jurisdiction in writing, you may do so, and then I will address those in due course.”

Dey agreed, saying, “So that would be the next step, and I can get those in today and —”

But Simpson corrects him, saying, “It is not the next step.”

“Either you’re going to have another [pre-charge conference], or if you want me to set it for a hearing, I’ll set it for a hearing. But I have nothing to set a hearing on. You have not filed anything regarding jurisdiction.”

Dey agrees to file the proper documents for the jurisdictional hearing.

“Gotcha!” Dey said and Simspon scheduled the hearing for April 25.

Judge Simpson has grabbed numerous headlines over the past year while issuing fiery reprimands to a steady stream of harebrained defendants.

The most recent case involved another Washtenaw County man who accompanied his granddaughter to Simpson’s courtroom and was told to sit down and be quiet after he complained that the hearing didn’t start on time.

Another viral moment in the courtroom happened in May when a Michigan man whose driver’s license was suspended appeared for court on a Zoom call from behind the wheel of his car. 

Not one to tolerate any nonsense, Simpson revoked the man’s bond and ordered him to jail.

Back in April, a Michigan woman already facing charges in a road rage incident found herself in hot water when she turned persnickety with Simpson, who threatened to throw her in jail unless she calmed down. 

Last June, Judge Simpson presided over another video hearing that involved a defendant who came before his court after being charged with drug possession.

At one point, Simpson observed the defendant, Anthony Lane, in the Zoom waiting room rolling a blunt in plain view.

Simpson then ordered Lane to go to an official corrections facility for drug testing the same day, but when Lane didn’t show up, the judge revoked his bond.

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