GAINESVILLE, Mo.-- A southwest Missouri man can have Jesus Christ as his attorney, but only one licensed to practice Missouri law will be allowed to speak for him during trial on charges he tampered with a judge.
Defendant Richard John Adams, who described himself as a patriot and a Christian, told the Ozark County judge presiding over his case that under that ruling, he was "being restricted to the devil."
Adams, of Branson, said he refers to lawyers as "devils" because he believes the Missouri Bar Association "created the Federal Reserve (news - web sites) through their unconstitutional statutes and case laws."
Adams formerly associated himself with a militia and Christian Identity movement but has since said he's not a member of any group.
Adams is scheduled to stand trial March 19-20 on two counts of tampering involving Ozark County Associate Circuit Judge John Jacobs of Gainesville.
Adams, whose age was not available, requested Jesus Christ as his trial attorney during a hearing Wednesday. He listed "Christian brother" Lee Constance of Alton as co-counsel. Constance is not licensed to practice law in Missouri.
Ozark County Circuit Judge John Moody told Adams it was fine for Jesus Christ to be his chief counsel, but no one — including Constance — could speak for him in the courtroom unless a lawful attorney.
Adams replied that his choice of lawyers was "religious in nature."
Moody offered to let Adams sign a waiver of counsel, but Adams objected to the language in the document and declined.
Adams said he planned to appeal the decision.
The case began when Adams was ticketed March 24 in Howell County for speeding and failing to wear a seat belt.
Both charges have since been dropped. But the two felony counts of tampering stem from those proceedings, during which Adams requested a change of venue to Ozark County.
One count alleges Adams harassed Jacobs during a July 3 hearing by filing a letter in a court file saying he would sue the judge because he was incompetent.
His allegation implies Jacobs needed "a guardian to make his decisions for him and to the effect that he is unable by reason of any physical or mental condition to receive and evaluate information or to communicate decisions," prosecutor Thomas Cline said in court records.
The second count alleges Adams tampered with a judicial officer on Aug. 13 by threatening to sue Jacobs for violating his civil rights. Adams was ordered removed from the court after he became antagonistic over Jacobs' ruling, according to records.
Cline said Monday that he could not comment on the case prior to trial.
In court records, Cline said the statement was intended to threaten Jacob because a suit would require the judge "to incur expenses of retaining counsel and providing a defense."
Adams faces a maximum of 14 years in prison if convicted of both counts.