Thursday, February 3, 2011

Vermont Commons Blogger Promotes Sovereign Citizen Legal Premise

For more than a year it has become apparent that as the secession movement in Vermont continued to falter and wane,
culminating in a complete failure to attract any meaningful level of support on election day (0.79% of the vote for the top of the ticket, gubernatorial hopeful Dennis Steele), a move to shake things up and shed their soiled reputation was afoot. Even before this failure to get traction with the Vermont electorate, I was observing signs that the "small community of secessionists" (as it is described by "Vermont Commons"Publisher Emeritus, Ian Baldwin) was resetting the movement to one that its founder, Thomas Naylor, baas of the Second Vermont Republic, had now come to call a "liberation movement":
It’s Time to Liberate Ourselves From the Use of the Word Secession
"...Abraham Lincoln really did a number on us one hundred fifty years ago. He convinced most of us that secession is immoral, illegal, and unconstitutional."

"Secession may very well be the most emotionally charged word in American English. No term is considered to be more politically incorrect. What immediately comes to mind whenever this provocative word is spoken is the Civil War, slavery, violent militias, and racism..."

"...However, there is another perfectly good word which captures the very essence of what it means to secede. That word is liberation."

"Unlike secession, liberation connotes success, not failure..."

"The liberation of Vermont starts now!"

Thomas Naylor
September 13, 2010
Much of what the small Vermont secesher community is now turning to is known nationally as the "sovereign citizen movement." Wikipedia has a concise definition of the sovereign citizen movement that sums up nicely what the legal underpinnings of the movement are about:
The sovereign citizen movement is a loose network of American litigants, commentators and financial scheme promoters.

Self-described "sovereign citizens" believe that they are answerable only to English common law and are not subject to any statutes or proceedings at the federal, state or municipal levels.

They especially reject most forms of taxation as illegitimate.

Participants in the movement argue this concept in opposition to "federal citizens" who, they believe, have unknowingly forfeited their rights by accepting some aspect of federal law.
Now comes a VTCommons blogger, Simha Bode, to slide out onto the thin legal ice of "sovereign citizen" tinfoil hat jurisprudence. In an odd post on the courts (basically he argues some federal courts aren't legally constituted), to which he aptly adds this, "Disclaimer: THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE," he puts forth his argument, based largely on the legal expertise of someone to whom he offers his "(s)pecial thanks to," a "Paul Andrew Mitchell from the Supreme Law Firm, for his generous assistance in helping (Bode to) understand this mind boggling subject." Bode identifies Mitchell as a Private Attorney General(?) and provides a link to Mitchell's Supreme Law Firm but apparently did little other research before swallowing this legal pablum whole. If he had, he would have found that Mitchell has a reputation for filing the frivolous legal actions that sovereign citizen movement types are famous for losing. Here's a website that provides more on Mitchell's history, Who Is Paul Andrew Mitchell?

Bode added later to his piece this bit of commentary on court procedure,
"In all USDC legislative (statute) cases they trick you into submitting to their jurisdiction VOLUNTARILY... You stand up when the judge enters, you are consenting to their jurisdiction, They ask, "Do you do understand (stand-under my jurisdiction)?" you reply,"Yes, I understand." They give you the option with out you knowing it. It is a big POWER game! That is why we have a legal language very few people can really comprehend. You are volunteering to giving up your rights for options!"
Ah yes, here we go now down the rabbit hole of secesher/sovereign citizen/redemptionist legal theory.

For more on the nutty legal theories now emanating from the small Vermont secesher crowd, read this about their newly re-constituted Vermont Council of Censors .

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For the archive of the Free Vermont Framework listserv, click here.

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