WILDSTAR: Will the Libertarian Candidate get SIX YEARS for Contempt?

Well, how do you like that.  Nickolas Wildstar, the Libertarian who is on his third run for California Governor (along with runs for Fullerton Council and Fresno Mayor) is facing a possible six years in jail when he returns to OC for for his sentencing at the Santa Ana Superior Court this Friday morning March 12.  And he would like it if a lot of us showed up at 8am before his hearing for a demonstration, protesting that this sentence is hell of excessive, which it is.

Six years for what, you ask?  Six years for six charges of contempt of court, each charge of which can carry a maximum of a year.  And the DA seems inclined to throw the maximum charge at the fiery Libertarian for his unrepentant “contempt.”

And how did Nickolas show contempt to the court, you ask?  Mainly, by recording the proceedings, which everybody knows is against the law.  Most of us think that’s a stupid law, and possibly unconstitutional, as the Sixth Amendment guarantees us “the right to a speedy and public trial” … and nowadays many trials are even livestreamed on YouTube.  But still Federal Courts as well as many states including California forbid cameras or videotaping.

And Nickolas Wildstar, not a Sovereign Citizen but a self-styled “Sovereign Being,” is not someone who will obey a law he finds unconstitutional or unjust.  Even if that comes at the risk of spending six years away from his wife and one-year-old son.  So, what are you going to do?

In a way, the whole chain of events started on Martin Luther King Day, 2017, when Wildstar was racially profiled and wrongfully arrested by two Fullerton cops for Walking to Work While Black in the pre-dawn hours of 5-something-AM.  Apparently there’d been an attempted burglary not far away and the suspects were black, but they were in no way 6’4″, 200+ lbs, with shoulder-length hair and dressed nice for work like Nickolas was.  As you can see in the video below, Nickolas was notably angry and uncooperative, as was his right.  He was arrested by Officer Robert Botzheim, and after it was determined that Nickolas was not a suspect, Botzheim charged him with resisting arrest, a charge Nickolas beat in a jury trial. 

Meanwhile he launched a civil rights suit against the City of Fullerton in which it appears he prevailed – Botzheim was fired, and Nickolas says he was awarded $100K (a claim which I assume is true but I’m still looking for a record of that.)  In any case here’s the video of the incident – there’s never a lack of video with Wildstar!  As he told interviewer Jeff Pearlman:

“I was maybe a block or so away when I noticed one police cruiser after another racing toward me on the opposite side of the street blaring their lights and sirens. One of the last ones that had driven by seemed to linger and I knew instinctively that he was taking a good look at me as he was slowing down. But I kept walking. When you’re a black man and have had as many unnecessary encounters with police as I have you tend to grow a Spidey Sense, so I took my phone out of my pocket in preparation for what I knew was coming. The next thing I knew the inevitable was happening because that same cop was now following behind me and, using his car lamp, had a bright beam of light surrounding me. Before I turned around to face him I stopped my Pandora app (which I was listening to via a large pair of light blue Bluetooth headphones) and started my Ustream Widget, which I have strategically placed on my phone in the case of an event like this.”

So this YouTube starts with the video Wildstar took, and then continues with material he subpoenaed from the FPD – the calls showing that the suspects didn’t resemble him except in their race and gender, and a bunch of body cam footage, in which among other things, you can hear him threatening to sue Botzheim and Botzheim responding (unwisely) “Then I might as well arrest you.”

Well, whether there was a $100K payoff or not, this is not the kind of thing that endears a guy to the local law enforcement and power structure, is it?  During his litigation over the Walking To Work While Black incident, Nickolas became aware of a couple of old traffic warrants he had outstanding (for a chipped windshield LOL), so in 2018 he showed up to take care of them.  The charges were dismissed.  But the thing was, his case was assigned not to a judge but to a commissioner, which a defendant has a right to challenge AS THE LAW CLEARLY STATES RIGHT HERE… but Nickolas’ challenge was considered contempt…  

…as was his bold filming of the whole proceeding.  From his website:

Court Appearance 1 – September 11th, 2018: Nickolas Wildstar appeared at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana, CA regarding traffic citations which were dismissed by the commissioner as stated in the video although he was still being demanded to pay a fine for the dropped charges. Officers then escorted Wildstar out of the court building after refusing to stop recording…

Court Appearance 2 – September 21st, 2018: Nickolas Wildstar appeared at the North Justice Center in Fullerton, CA regarding traffic citations which were again dismissed and was  demanded again to pay a fine for the dropped charges. The unnamed judicial official, along with a sheriff’s deputy, accosted Wildstar for filming proceedings who then charged the judicial officer with treason. He then requested assistance from the deputy to perform a citizens arrest of the justice officer which was denied by the deputy so Wildstar then asked for 2 witnesses of the crime from the audience to assist him with the arrest. Wildstar was then escorted out of the court building for continuing to record against the court wishes.

So, let’s accelerate the storytelling a little here, and not overwhelm you with Wildstar videos.  It turned out a warrant for contempt of court was filed on our hero resulting from the above, while he was living up in Fresno and running for Mayor there, which he wasn’t aware of until he was pulled over driving back home from Santa Cruz in November 2019.  So our hero duly drove back down to Santa Ana on December 20, 2019, to take care of this warrant.  (Fullerton’s North Court was closed for asbestos.)

THIS time Nickolas filmed again, but in a secret newfangled way which we won’t disclose, while insisting to the bailiffs that he wasn’t.  That’s a LONG (one-hour) clip, but he gave me permission to extract and upload a couple excerpts.  In the first, the Deputy DA is offering him a “deal” – a year in prison, 3 years probation, and – what really makes him blow his top – they wanted Nickolas to pay the DA $110 for them to take his DNA!

And a little later, he is seen by the old easygoing Judge Gary Pohlson (whom Donna and I know from ACLU Courtwatch.)  Pohlson is pretty puzzled by Nickolas and his demands, but eventually he blows HIS top and has him arrested for yet ANOTHER charge of contempt!

Nickolas spent eight days in jail that time, missing his first Christmas with his infant son, and finally bailed out for $15,000.  His jury trial last month (February 2021) did not go well, with a jury he says was “basically all white” – I think that means no black jurors.  They found him guilty of SIX CHARGES OF CONTEMPT OF COURT, and this week he returns to Santa Ana for his sentencing which could be up to SIX YEARS.

So we hope to see some of you supporting Nickolas on the steps of the Central Court this Friday morning (March 12) at 8AM.  You might think this is eccentric, silly, whatever, but Nickolas is determined to take this to the State Supreme Court, and just think – this is likely to result in overturning the unconstitutional and unreasonable prohibitions on filming court proceedings, in these days when they’re already being broadcast on YouTube Live.

One more thing – Nickolas is running to be a replacement candidate in the Recall of Governor Newsom, and if that Recall qualifies for the ballot this Fall – whether you vote yes or no on the recall – he’s the best replacement candidate I know of so far!

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UPDATE FRIDAY

Whew, dodged a bullet. After an early morning demonstration in front of the Court (which the authorities tried to stop) the sentencing proceeded … and the DA backed way off, giving Nickolas six months probation, community service which he can do in Fresno, time mostly served in jail (if he messes up his probation in any way he’ll have to serve 8 more days.)

Nickolas is still appealing, because we think the stricture against filming in court is unconstitutional and will probably be overturned for the good of all of us. (The DA pointed out though that his “contempt” charge was not JUST for that, but also for being disruptive and rude at his hearings in 2018-19, but added “he was a perfect gentleman at his 2020 trial… and hopefully this will be a learning experience for us all.” LOL.)

Last night we had dinner at Fullerton’s fancy Afghan/Indian joint Khan Saab, with Denis Fitzgerald and Tony Bushala. The four of us sure had a lot of war stories to tell!

Fitzgerald, Wildstar, Bushala, and Vern. At Khan Saab.


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.