October 1, 2000- Citizens Fight Fire With Fire

Dear Subscriber,

I was heartened to hear of the paper war which is being waged against by libertarian groups in the USA, using "common law courts" to issue liens and warrants against government officials, and even judges. Now the bureaucrats are discovering what it feels like to be on the receiving end of their own favourite weapon - a harassing shower of paper backed up by rules and regulations, which may or may not be valid.

The basic tactic being used involves liens on the officials' properties for alleged debts - sometimes millions of dollars. Even if a debt is not real, the lien is extremely difficult to remove. Cancelling it can sometimes take years and involve huge legal fees. Often the victim only learns that a lien has been filed when trying to sell a property.

Such property claims have been issued against government officials in at least twenty-three states. The most celebrated is in Missouri, involving a teenager accused of speeding. When Associate Circuit Judge Patrick Flynn refused to drop the charges against her, her father, grandfather and eighteen other people convened "Our One Supreme Court", which tried and convicted the judge on charges of treason, conspiracy and fraud. A $1.5 million lien was then placed on all the judge's property - everything but his wedding ring.

The Missouri Attorney General, Jay Nixon, successfully filed a lawsuit for "judicial tampering" to remove all the liens against the judge, describing his action as "a clear message that we will not tolerate such tactics as retaliation against those who enforce the laws of our land." However, one significant point is that he even considered such legal action to be necessary against a self-convened "court". Another is that less prestigious officials might well find that they have to fight their own expensive legal battles without the backing of the law officer.

An estimated 131 "common law courts" like this one exist in thirty-five states, with names such as "United Sovereigns of America", "We the People" and "Family Farm Preservation". The authorities are taking them very seriously, with new laws against them in seventeen states, and Representative Charles Schumer, of New York, is proposing legislation to use federal law in such cases.

The chief justices of the state supreme courts are discussing how to fight common law courts, and the National Association of Attorneys General has held a conference in Missouri on what it describes as "domestic terrorism".

In Palmdale, California, a self-professed "lien queen", Elizabeth Brodenck, issued "comptrollers warrants" with a face value of $800 million which she claimed were backed up by liens on the government. Eventually she was indicted and jailed for seventeen years, but before being convicted she ran seminars providing instruction in the process, and also sold numerous blank comptrollers warrants for $100 each.

Hundreds of people attended her seminars, according to a study by the California Senate Office of Research. The study states: "Many started producing their own bogus liens, cheques, and other documents and, in many cases, trying to record them in county recorder's offices and the California Secretary of State's office."

US Secret Service investigator, Kevin Foley, testifying before Congress said: "Some of these fictitious instruments have been labelled certified bankers cheques, comptroller warrants, liens drafts and Republic of Texas warrants. Hundreds of millions of these fictitious instruments have been submitted for payment to financial institutions and government agencies.

Some states, including Florida, Oregon and Texas, have tough new laws prohibiting the filing of false liens, making it easier to remove them and imposing civil penalties on anyone filing them. But filing such liens is still not a criminal offence. Mark Pitcavage, who instructs law-enforcement officials on "domestic terrorism", commented: "With a lot of these laws, it's too soon to know if they'll be successful."

Meanwhile those in the former land of the free who believe that both the state and federal governments have exceeded their legitimate authority are heating up the paper war. Even a bureaucrat employment in Stanislaus County, California, Karen Mathews, admitted: "As strange as it seems, these people honestly and sincerely believe they at war with the government, and that includes paper terrorism."

Will similar techniques adapted to local laws spread to other parts of the democratic world? I watch with interest for further developments.

Yours for Freedom
Privacy World

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