Man accused of attacking Harris County judge, bailiff, and prosecutors in court

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A man has been charged after Harris County prosecutors say he attacked a bailiff, a judge, and two prosecutors when he showed up to court Tuesday morning.

According to prosecutors, 54-year old Joseph Catarineau was in court to discuss his attorney's withdrawal from his case. Catarineau was facing charges related to filing false financial instruments, so prosecutors say his violent actions came as a surprise.

During court, Catarineau became agitated by the judge asking questions about his defense, and whether he would now need a court-appointed attorney, according to prosecutors.

Catarineau, who claims to be a self-proclaimed sovereign citizen or someone who believes they should decide which laws to obey and which to ignore, used that as his defense with the judge and was ordered to a holding area where his bond would be revoked temporarily, prosecutors say.

"(Catarineau) became obstructive and argumentative with the court, and created a disturbance in the courtroom," said Assistant District Attorney David Mitcham.

Prosecutors said it was during the time that a female bailiff attempted to escort him to the holding area that he began to attack her.


"Two prosecutors intervened to try and subdue (Catarineau) and this improper conduct, as well as the judge himself, came off the bench to try and maintain order," said Mitcham.

The attack continued until prosecutors say Catarineau was tased and put in handcuffs. He now faces three felony charges for assault on a public servant.

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