MADISON (WKOW) — A bond hearing in Dane County court took several bizarre turns Thursday when a founder of a Madison Rastafari church claimed he could not understand court officials.
Jesse Schworck, 39, made his initial appearance Thursday morning for drug charges after police served a search warrant at Lion of Judah House of Rastafari.
“I require a translator,” Schworck said. “I only understand the language of my private society, the Rastafari society.”
After a brief back and forth over Schworck’s ability to understand Circuit Court Commissioner Mario White, Schworck was told to wait until after the other cases on the docket to be heard.
Schworck was called to the stand again approximately an hour later. Prosecutor Frank Remington read aloud the eight charges the founder faces. Police allege they purchased marijuana multiple times from Schworck and fellow founder Dylan Bangert.
White asked Schwork if he understood what the prosecutor had said. In response, Schworck asked to be sworn in. The judge obliged and advised Schworck anything he said may be used against him by the prosecution.
White asked again if Schworck understood the charges against him. “I understand my language, the Rastafari language,” Schworck said. “I wish to remain an honor before the court as a man.”
“I believe no man has claimed I do wrong before this court,” Schworck said.
“I’m sorry,” White interjected. “Just for the record, can you tell me whether or not you are a man,” White asked Remington.
“I can confirm that I am a man,” Remington said.
“I require all charges discharged without prejudice,” Schworck said before reiterating his request for a Rastafari translator.
“If any man does claim that there is a controversy, I wish to make him whole immediately. Here right now, I’ll give him the shirt off my back.”
When asked if he understood the consequences of the charges against him, Schworck claimed he did not know “legalese.”
White asked Schworck’s age, but the founder only repeated his name and asked for a translator.
White called Schwork’s requests an “obvious attempt to waste everyone’s time,” and entered a not guilty plea on Schworck’s behalf.
As a condition of his bond, Schworck cannot use or have controlled substances or drug paraphernalia without a prescription. He is also banned from the 500 block of West Mifflin Street, the Rastafari church’s address.
Schworck’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 19.