A Morris man will spend three weekends in jail for tussling with a La Salle County security officer, who was injured, while trying to force his way into the courthouse.
Jacob Farmer, 30, also was sentenced Thursday to 24 months conditional discharge, a non-reporting form of probation, plus anger management.
Farmer is not barred from the government complex during the 24 months; but Chief Judge H. Chris Ryan Jr. urged him to use exercise restraint: “Civility goes a long way.”
Farmer was convicted in June of misdemeanor battery and resisting/obstructing for an incident on March 8, 2021, at the Criminal Justice Complex on Etna Road in Ottawa. Security officer Jim Knoblauch was injured and required medical treatment.
Farmer stood for a June jury trial and argued he and his sister, Angel Farmer, were simply exercising their First Amendment rights when they tried to enter the CJC to conduct a public access compliance check. (Angel’s case is pending.) He was undermined by videos and an interview in which he admitted contact with Knoblauch.
When offered a chance to speak Thursday, Farmer repeatedly choked up recalling how, since the fracas, he suffered personal setbacks (family illnesses, death of his father) that made him reevaluate his earlier actions.
“I’m remorseful for what happened,” Farmer said. “My intentions were true. Things certainly did not go as planned. I can sit here and blame everything ... but I put myself in this situation and I continued this situation.”
Ryan seemed to accept that and rejected the state’s request for 60 days in jail.
“I don’t think I’ll ever see you again,” Ryan told Farmer, finding him unlikely to re-offend. “The way you went about this whole circumstance was wrong. It was bad. I appreciate your point, I appreciate your desire, but we don’t get physical.”
Angel Farmer has shared several videos on YouTube entering government facilities in La Salle, Bureau, Putnam, Grundy, Lee, Sangamon and Whiteside counties, walking around recording and making requests on video of security officials or government personnel, and sometimes taunting personnel, titling many of these videos “First Amendment audits.” Her brother, known as “Justice Jake” in the video, accompanied her to La Salle County’s courthouse.
(Ryan also declined to fine or jail him for contempt of court. Farmer apologized Thursday for making an obscene gesture at an earlier phase of the case.)