October 10, 2015

Fedora-wearing bank robbery suspect claims law invalid, will represent himself

A man accused of two Ypsilanti bank robberies, including one in which the robber sported a black suit and a fedora, will defend himself in court.
Dale Lester Morris, who turned 53 on Sunday, attempted on his own to file a motion disputing the court's jurisdiction, despite still having a public defender, ahead of his scheduled Oct. 8 probable cause hearing in one case and preliminary examination in the another.
He told the court at a previous hearing that he would like to file a motion to dismiss the case, court records show.

Assistant Washtenaw County Prosecutor Brenda Taylor said Morris also sent a letter in which he said it would be a form of usurpation and treason if the county were to proceed in the case.
Morris frequently interrupted 14A-1 District Court Judge Judge J. Cedric Simpson as he tried to explain that there was a process that needed to take place to assure he knew his rights and could defend himself without a public defender.
"I don't need no public defender and I just made a motion to the court for subject matter jurisdiction, which you don't have – which the court doesn't have – and my memorandum of law explains that and my motion," Morris said.
"So if the court decides not to honor it or dismiss this case, we'll go into interlocutory appeal -- I want to go straight to the Michigan Court of Appeals on this matter."
He said he is a citizen of Michigan and the constitution both protects him and supersedes Michigan law, which Taylor was referring to when discussing which rights he needed to be read.

After an extended break for Simpson to review the case, and apparent reluctance to bring the verbally combative defendant back in, Morris told the court that the statute that makes bank robberies illegal is invalid because it does not have an enacting clause, which declares legislative authority.
He also said his constitutional rights were being violated because Simpson would not immediately address subject matter jurisdiction.
Ultimately, Simpson ruled that Morris could represent himself and that the public defender's office would act as standby counsel. He also ruled that the court would recognize his motion and letter.
A hearing on the motion has been set for Oct. 27 and a new preliminary examination date was set for Nov. 12.

Morris is accused of robbing the Bank of Ann Arbor, 7 W. Michigan Ave., while wearing a fedora on July 8 and robbing Eastern Michigan University Credit Union, 761 Jenness St., while wearing a baseball hat on July 9.
At the time of his arrest in Kansas, Pittsfield Township police named him a person of interest in a robbery of a Comerica Bank on July 10.
Pittsfield Township Deputy Chief Gordon Schick said Morris has refused to speak to detectives, but the investigation is still active.
Michigan Department of Correction records show Morris absconded from parole July 8.
He was previously sentenced in 1999 for conducting a criminal enterprise, fleeing an officer, two counts of felonious assault and felony firearm, according to MDOC records.

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