A jury could decide Wednesday whether a Morris man committed two misdemeanors when he tried to enter — against orders, prosecutors say — a La Salle County courthouse. A security officer was injured in the melee.
Jacob Farmer, 29, is on trial this week in La Salle County Circuit Court for misdemeanor counts of resisting/obstructing and battery (an additional count was dismissed) for his role in a March 8, 2021, fracas at the courthouse on Etna Road. If convicted, he could face up to a year in jail with additional time possibly coming for contempt of court.
Farmer, acting as his own lawyer, told jurors during opening statements Tuesday that while he had a hand in the events — “Were my actions perfect? No” — the root problem was the conduct of the La Salle County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies, he said, denied he and sister Angel Farmer lawful access and “made it very clear that transparency and accountability is not what they’re all about.” (Angel Farmer has a pending criminal case, as well.)
Assistant La Salle County State’s Attorney Jason Goode told jurors the Farmers, who videotape and upload their public access checks, are “internet superheroes” who “bully” and “harass” public employees. The duo goes by the names the Accountability Angel and Justice Jake in those videos.
“When the defendant shows up at a workplace,” Goode said, “he’s there to cause trouble.”
The jury was shown two videos. Goode played a roughly hourlong segment from a March 2, 2021, entry into the courthouse — “You’ll see how he acts and treats people,” Goode told jurors — that paved the way for the injurious conflict six days later.
Deputy Donna Ortiz testified she was working the security checkpoint March 2 when the Farmers brandished prohibited handheld cameras and confronted her and her peers with the tape rolling.
“Did they listen to your commands?” Good asked.
“No, they did not,” Ortiz said.
“Did they leave the building when asked?”
“No, they did not,” Ortiz answered, adding later she found the experience, “very overwhelming — it was awful.”
On March 8, the Farmers arrived to find the doors locked. Jacob was eventually admitted, the video showed, but then tried to re-enter the building along with his sister, who was denied admission.
“Excuse me, gentlemen,” Jacob could be heard repeating as he tried to enter with court security blocking the door. The video footage shifted but officers could be heard telling him to cease and desist. Jacob at one point replied, “Take me down if you got the (nerve).”
The injured security officer, Jim Knoblauch, was expected to testify when the trial resumes Wednesday morning. Chief Judge H. Chris Ryan Jr. told jurors to report at 8 a.m. to resume the state’s case at 8:15 a.m.