A rural Cameron man who twice refused to wear a face covering while serving jury duty in Barron County Circuit Court has indicated he will appeal a $200 fine imposed earlier this month.
Records said that 59-year-old Devere Jon Popple was in a virtual hearing before Circuit Court Judge James C. Babler on March 16, following his refusal to serve jury duty while wearing a mask earlier this year.
During the hearing, Babler offered Popple the chance to come back to the Barron County Justice Center for jury duty – but only if he wore a mask, a requirement imposed by the Wisconsin Supreme Court (and other courthouses around the state) as a precaution during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Popple refused and the court fined him $200.
On Monday, March 22, the Clerk of Courts office entered a three-page letter from Popple into the case file, along with a check he’d already received to serve jury duty. He said the letter – and the returned check – were his way of notifying the court that he intended to file an appeal.
In the letter, Popple said that even a state of emergency cannot justify “the violation of any provisions in the U.S. or Wisconsin constitutions.
“While I am aware (that Judge Babler) is following orders from the Wisconsin Supreme Court, those orders do not negate my constitutional rights, nor my liberty … protected by the Constitution,” he said.
Popple said his refusal to wear a mask to jury duty was a right guaranteed by both the U.S. and Wisconsin constitutions.
“The county (Justice Center) is a place of public accommodation, and ... you may not prohibit entry by discriminating against someone for their medical condition, disability or religious views,” he said.
“If someone is unable or unwilling to wear a mask for one of those reasons, you may not prohibit their entry, nor may you file a charge of trespassing because of their legally protected status.”
Citing further precedents, Popple refused to wear a mask because he had a “conflict of conscience ... and ... a right to be secure in my property. My body and my rights is that property.
“It is my determination that the wearing of mask is not based on science (or) common sense,” Popple continued. “The side effects of wearing a mask outweigh any potential benefit. I am not willing to risk my life or health to wearing a mask.”
Popple said his religious beliefs, as well, were among the reasons for his refusal.
“I am a man, made in God’s image, and I am not to cover my face,” he said. “I am proud of being made in His image and let the world see (that) I am His child.”
At the end of the letter, Popple asserted that “knowingly, or willingly disregarding our unalienable rights the constitution protects, is an act of war upon the People.”
As of Monday, March 30, documents had yet been filed with the Wisconsin Appellate Court District III office in Wausau. The court hears appeals from Barron and 33 other counties in the northern part of the state.
According to the Wisconsin Supreme and Appellate Court Clerk’s office in Madison, there was no record of an appeal having been filed as of Monday afternoon, March 29, 2021.