WSVN — It was a one-of-a-kind battle in a Broward courtroom. Prosecutors facing off against a man defending himself, a man who claims he doesn’t need a license to practice law. Whose arguments would the jury believe? Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the case.
Forty-four-year-old Anthony Williams was all smiles in court — charged with practicing law without a license.
Catherine Maus, Assistant State Attorney: "Very simply, the state intends to prove through the presentation of evidence and documents that Mr. Williams is pretending to be a lawyer."
Williams operates an Internet-based law firm. He was accused of acting as an attorney after he filed documents in a foreclosure case. Williams calls himself a private attorney general and a sovereign peace officer. Authorities call Williams a sovereign citizen. Believers think many laws do not apply to them.
Anthony Williams: "You can’t arrest nobody for a traffic violation."
Officer: "Well, we are."
Last year, Williams posted a video of his arrest for driving without a license.
Anthony Williams: "I’m also a foreign diplomat."
He says he doesn’t need one. During that case, which took eight months to conclude, he was taken to jail twice. First, for failure to follow a judge’s order, and then later for driving without a license a second time. In the end, he entered a no contest plea and paid a fine. But then…
Detective John Calabro: "Mr. Williams you’re under arrest."
A month later, Williams was back in handcuffs, this time facing felony charges involving the unlicensed practice of law. When taken into custody at the airport, Williams was carrying his private attorney general ID, the badge and handcuffs.
Anthony Williams: "Y’all charged me with the unlicensed practice of law, and I’m trying to get — to understand, what law you are charging me with, ’cause there’s a whole bunch of laws."
At trial, Williams represented himself.
Anthony Williams: "The state has been very deceptive and misleading in what the law is in the State of Florida."
He spent much of the time arguing with the judge.
Anthony Williams: "I’ve never given legal advice, and there’s a difference between legal and lawful."
Judge Andrew Siegel: "You’re arguing apples and oranges."
It took the jury one hour before returning the same verdict on all 10 charges.
Clerk: "The defendant is guilty of unlicensed practice of law as charged in the information."
It was bad news for Williams, and it was about to get worse. Judge Andrew Siegel sentenced him to 180 days in jail, 22 years probation and ordered him to turn over his badges and ID.
Andrew Siegel: "He’s prohibited from calling himself a private attorney general, an attorney or implying in any which way, shape or form that he has any ability to practice law."
As his supporters listened, Williams lashed out at prosecutors.
Anthony Williams: "Both you state attorneys are crooks. Both y’all criminals, and y’all gonna pay for what you did. The jury was rigged. I will find out, and both y’all are going to jail."
But it is Williams who is in jail now, and he has more to think about than this case. According to authorities, he is currently being investigated for mortgage fraud. Carmel Cafiero 7News.
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