I've maintained for years that justification is perhaps the strongest human emotion there is. If you strongly believe that what you're doing is right, regardless of how wrong you are, you won't think twice about your actions.

Case in point: an Iowa man has come up with the 'hail mary' of all legal arguments to try and justify why he committed a felony in Pocahontas County.

He's pinning his hopes on the notion that a document dating back to the 13th Century will be his 'Get-Out-of-Jail-Free' card in the 21st Century.


According to Rawstory, Jason Levant Ferguson, of rural Rolfe in north central Iowa, wants a judge to reverse a jury’s verdict last month, convicting him on 51 charges of taking the trees without permission from public property at Stoddard Wildlife Management Area, along the Des Moines River.

His defense?

Under the provisions of a document called the Charter of the Forest, Ferguson had the right to take more than 100 trees thanks to a line in the charter that reads:

'Every freeman may agest his own wood within our forest at his pleasure and shall take his pawnage.' 

That's a bit of a stretch, don't you think?

It's even more laughable when you find out more about the origins of the Charter of Forest.

It was first issued by King Henry III of England in 1217. That's not a typo, this document - put forth by the king of another country - is 806 years old!

So why in the world would it apply to trees in Iowa in the year 2023?

Ferguson's lawyers say the charter is binding in the United States because it was transferred by common law to this country when it declared independence from England in 1776.

Stoddard Wildlife Area - Iowa

According to court records, over an extended period of time, Ferguson took more than 100 trees from the Stoddard Wildlife Management Area. He planned to use the lumber from those trees to build a house.

Ferguson seeks an acquittal or a new trial. He is set to be sentenced next month and faces up to five years in prison for a felony theft charge and an additional 50 years behind bars for timber buyer violation charges.

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