A Phoenix man unhappy with a judge's ruling decided to "arrest" her. Tuesday he was convicted of attempted kidnap.(Photo: Getty Images)
PHOENIX — Brittian Young was angry at a judge who ruled against him in a case involving his child. And he had a delusional grasp of what the law allows.
So last September, he walked into Maricopa County Superior Court with a bag full of 2-foot-long plastic zip-ties and a made-up "warrant," and he tried to make a citizen's arrest of the judge as she sat at the bench in her courtroom between hearings.
On Tuesday, in another Maricopa County courtroom, a jury took an hour and 20 minutes to find Young guilty of attempted kidnap. When he is sentenced on April 10, he could face up to 16¼ years in prison.
Confronting the judge
Young, 43, acted as his own attorney. He presented no evidence and called no witnesses. He barely questioned the prosecution's witnesses — four people, including the judge, who had witnessed the event. And though he tried to lecture the judge on legal points, his argument was practically unintelligible.
These facts were uncontested: On Sept. 21, Young sat in the back of Judge Lisa Flores' courtroom as she conducted a routine hearing in a case from which he had already been dismissed. When the hearing ended and there was no one left in the courtroom but Flores and two of her staff, Young stood up and rapidly walked toward the bench, shouting "motion to strike."
He told Flores that he had a warrant for her arrest and waved a sheaf of papers at her that he claimed were signed by a judge.
"Are you Flores?" he asked.
"You know who I am," she answered.
Flores hit the "panic" button on her desk and stood up as Young stepped behind her chair.
Young told Flores she had a right to remain silent. He had one of the zip-ties looped and ready to slip over her wrists.
She told him to leave. Her court bailiff and a court reporter stepped between them, and finally a Maricopa County sheriff's deputy and a court security officer came in and confronted him.
Even as he talked to the deputy and the security officer, Young stuck with his story of making a citizen's arrest, though there's no telling where he intended to take Flores. Another deputy arrived and they merely escorted Young out of the building.
Young went home and posted on Facebook, "The legal aspect of the move to strike went well. ... The judge realized she was caught and started crying."
But two days later, sheriff's detectives arrested Young and he was charged with attempted kidnap.
That was the focus of the trial.
On Monday, it went before Judge Sean Brearcliffe, who was brought in from Pima County Superior Court to avoid a conflict of interest with the Maricopa County bench. It was an open-and-shut case that was resolved by Tuesday afternoon.
Brittian Young's backstory
But the backstory is fuzzier.
Though Flores would not say why Young had been in her court, and though it was not relevant to the current trial, other people familiar with the case said Flores had severed Young's parental rights to a child. Other court documents detailed a custody struggle between Young and the Arizona Department of Child Safety.
Juvenile dependency matters are sealed, so the nature of Young's dispute could not be discussed, even when Young tried to bring it up. He claimed he was arresting Flores for judicial misconduct and for conspiring with the Department of Child Safety.
Neither the prosecutors nor the defense attorney who assisted Young with his case had much knowledge of who he is.
Young was enigmatic during his trial.
He was calm and sincere and cooperative throughout, even if his personal appearance was eccentric. He is a youthful black man with a shaved and polished head except for a thick lock of brown hair above the nape of his neck that resembles a platypus tail. He keeps his fingernails long and waves his hands in long ellipses for emphasis as he talks. His voice is mellifluous. On Tuesday, he looked almost elegant in a caftan-like brown shirt.
A pre-sentence report from 1996 said that Brittian Willie Young was born in Phoenix, and it waffled as to whether he was a gang member, though he had a street name of "Mouse." The investigator who penned the report never interviewed him.
Young's multiple Facebook pages describe him as "a prepositional negotiator," but neither prosecutors nor his defense counsel had any idea what that means. He claimed to run a business that helped people find transitional housing. He had found very creative transitional housing for himself.
Young lived as a squatter, first in an abandoned semitrailer, then in a shed he built on resort property in south Phoenix. His frequent Facebook postings called it "Chicano Mouse Wash." And he posted photos and videos of the animals he cooked for dinner, even a javelina that he filmed while it was alive, before he barbecued it.
And court records and his Facebook page say he may have fathered a child with a woman who appears in some of the photos. Paternity was in question.
Chicano Mouse Wash then became a "sacrament" and "a place of conception," phrases that would occur in his delusional court filings.
'This is about a child'
There is an extensive court record about Young.
In 1995, when he was 21, he killed a man in the victim's own house. He and a friend had gone to a birthday party at the victim's house and wanted to take the man's daughter with him when they left. The father objected and they started fighting. Then Young grabbed his friend's pistol and shot the man in the head.
He was charged with second-degree murder, but was allowed to plead to manslaughter and was sentenced to 13 years in prison. He served eight years.
In the years since his release, he filed a succession of lawsuits against government agencies and officials. He sued the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, alleging an injury while in jail. He sued the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality because the hood of his car flew up while he was driving, he drove into the curb and got dirt in his eye. DEQ, he alleged, should have warned him that his car was dangerous when they inspected it for emissions.
He asked for hundreds of millions of dollars. When the cases were knocked down in state court, he took them to federal court, with filings filled with made-up words and legal concepts. He took them all the way up to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, to no avail.
He represented himself in each of them, signing off as the prepositional negotiator.
When he was evicted from the south Phoenix property, he sued the company that threw him off its property, saying he owned it because the company had neglected it. He accused the company of damaging the sacrament and place of conception.
In 2015, the Arizona Department of Child Safety took his newborn son away, citing "mental health (SMI) and substance abuse, neglect, domestic violence." "SMI" stands for "serious mental illness."
So Young sued the state in another case that he took to the U.S. Court of Appeals. That somehow led him to Lisa Flores' courtroom.
And after he lost his case in that court, he tried to sue Flores for $80,000. The lawsuit was thrown out.
He stuck to his beliefs that he had been wronged.
On Monday during oral argument out of earshot of the jurors in his kidnapping trial, Young again brought up the "place of conception."
"This is about a child," he said with resignation.
He rambled about why he was entitled to make an arrest. He suggested that the deputies who stopped him didn't understand the documents he was holding.
He tried to bring up the motion to strike in his closing argument the next day. The judge shut him down.
He gave up without further fight.