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Mar 19 2014

Another ‘Sovereign Citizen’ Loses in Court

People who call themselves “sovereign citizens” and think that this somehow magically gets them out of the laws that apply to everyone else crack me up. They always lose in court but that does little to dissuade them. The latest is a guy in Ohio who moved into people’s houses while they were away, citing centuries-old European law to justify it.

An Ohio judge rejected arguments made Monday in court by a self-described “sovereign citizen” who admitted to illegally entering houses and laying claim to them…

He argued during the sentencing hearing that he’d only “tried to help out” by filing claims on properties he believed to be abandoned.

“A home or any property has been abandoned, you file claim for abandonment, and if the owner of record fails to show up, you move for a default judgment,” Carr said.

He has cited medieval British law and other obscure legal maneuvers to justify his claims to “quiet title,” saying that what he had done was no different than banks laying claim to property during the foreclosure process.

But Judge Charles Kubicki was not persuaded by Carr’s arguments and admonished him for improperly filing documents to ask for more than $234 million from the city of Forest Park, claiming officers had falsely arrested him.

The judge then sentenced Carr to seven months in prison and gave him credit for the 110 days he’s already served in jail.

More than 10 families said Carr had moved into their homes while they were away and changed the locks, but he’s been charged in only four cases.

Nice try. So sorry.

25 comments

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  1. 1
    screechymonkey

    Oh, but I’m sure his conviction will be overturned on appeal once he points out that the courtroom’s flag had the “wrong” kind of fringe on it, and the indictment used his name in BLOCK CAPITALS instead of his “real” name…. these people would be funny if they didn’t clog up the court system so much.

  2. 2
    pinkboi

    If he was trying to take houses from banks, I’d be rooting for him.

  3. 3
    Modusoperandi

    Did he say “Tubal-cain” to the judge? It won’t work of you don’t say that.

  4. 4
    Area Man

    How strange that he doesn’t think contemporary law applies to him, but he tries to cite medieval British common law to support his case?

    …what he had done was no different than banks laying claim to property during the foreclosure process.

    Yeah, it is a bit different. The bank has a lien on the house, owns a mortgage note, and executes a lengthy foreclosure process via the courts. They don’t actually start squatting on property they have no connection with.

  5. 5
    Mr Ed

    Best description of Sovereign Citizens is a legal cargo-cult.

  6. 6
    theschwa

    He “discovered” these new lands and made claim to them. The so-called “homeowners” were just the local equivalent of Native Americans.

  7. 7
    Modusoperandi

    Area Man “The bank has a lien on the house, owns a mortgage note, and executes a lengthy foreclosure process via the courts.”
    Actually, the bank thinks it has it (but doesn’t know due to things like notes being passed from company to company so fast that no one kept proper track [thanks, MERS!], including not bothering to file them with the city or state), fakes some paperwork, goes in front of a friendly judge with piles of it and gets the sheriff to evict people from houses the bank may or may not own. And if the judge turns down one in ten, they wait, make more fake paperwork and try again. They’ve also evicted the families of soldiers fighting overseas, without following the proper process (another no-no).
    Compared to that, some kook moving in to your house while you’re away seems almost moral.

  8. 8
    Nentuaby

    Area Man: Depending on his particular interpretation of “sovereign citizen” (they are, unsurprisingly, a fractious lot), it’s actually bog standard. A basic summary of their delusion is, the Common Law is real law; however, it’s not REALLY what our courts are practicing. What they are “actually” doing, you see, is prosecuting violations of the bylaws of UNITED STATES, a corporate entity which usurped the true United States at some point. (Usually, at the passage of the 14th amendment; yeah, surprise, they’re racists too.) Hence the reason they can exempt themselves from the courts is that it’s contract law, and they can refuse to enter the contract with the UNITED STATES just like they would with any other corporation. That puts them under the *real* law of the United States, which is of course whatever weird understanding of Common Law gets them what they want.

  9. 9
    scott

    What I don’t get is why, if the courts are as corrupt as they say, they think their little schemes can possibly work. Even if it’s absolutely true in law that you can get what you want by calling the judge Rumplestiltskin, wouldn’t your usual corrupt representative of an entrenched fascist autocracy just say “LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU, off to jail you go!”?

  10. 10
    Quixotic James

    One of these days, a Sovereign Citizen clown is going to run into a Stand-Your-Ground nut and it’s going to end tragically. Worse still will be if a normal person comes back from vacation to find that the Sovereign Citizen clown squatting in his home is *also* a Stand-Your-Ground nut.

  11. 11
    Crimson Clupeidae

    One of these days, a Sovereign Citizen clown is going to run into a Stand-Your-Ground nut and it’s going to end tragicallyhysterically.

    Fixt. ;)

    I suspect, given the crazy these people bring, that your second scenario is much more likely, though.

  12. 12
    Crimson Clupeidae

    dammit…borked the strike tag somehow.

  13. 13
    dingojack

    I’m sure he’d be just fine with us squatting in his house*, amiright?
    Dingo
    ——–
    * while he’s in jail and beyond

  14. 14
    Gregory in Seattle

    Sounds like a legitimate excuse for the real homeowner to “stand his ground.”

  15. 15
    Sastra

    I think a lot of these Sovereign Citizens are living in a movie inside their heads, preferably a black-and-white courtroom drama from the 30′s or 40′s.

    “Holy cow, he’s right! Look here, it’s all spelled out in this forgotten ancient manuscript on Common Law! Well bless me, we have to let him go and give him the goods. So ruled.” (Pounds gavel; crowd cheers; female lead falls into defendant’s arms; music swells; fade to black.)

  16. 16
    screechymonkey

    For sheer entertainment value, try reading the IRS’s pamphlet on “tax protestor” arguments, and take note of the massive string of case cites provided for each one. These guys really seem to think that it doesn’t matter if 100 courts have shot down their “the Sixteenth Amendment wasn’t properly ratified!” argument, the 101st time will be the charm!

    (Mind you, the Supreme Court is to blame there. Ordinarily, “ignorance of the law is no excuse,” but the Supremes rather foolishly applied the Costanza Principle and held that it’s not tax evasion if you honestly believe in your goofy frivolous argument.)

  17. 17
    zmidponk

    I’ve always been surprised by the fact that ‘sovereign citizens’ don’t see the biggest flaw of the position that they aren’t subject to the laws of the country they’re living in actually ever being accepted – if that’s the case, then the country concerned can decide that they don’t get to be living in that country, therefore, they get booted out, and informed that they can only return once they agree to be bound by the laws of that country, and this could mean they find themselves floating on a small boat out in the middle of international waters.

  18. 18
    jameshanley

    In some cases, this kind of squatting actually is legitimate. If a property is truly abandoned and you move in, change the locks, keep up the maintenance, and pay the back taxes you can gain legal title. At least in some states. I don’t know all the ins and outs, or anything close to, but the idea he’s propounding us not wholly without merit. His particular method, though, sounds wholly without merit.

  19. 19
    savagemutt

    Did he say “Tubal-cain” to the judge? It won’t work of you don’t say that.

    A NewsRadio and a freemasonry reference in one comment?

    Modus, is there anything you can’t do?

  20. 20
    Modusoperandi

    savagemutt “A NewsRadio and a freemasonry reference in one comment? Modus, is there anything you can’t do?”
    Sometimes I get “if” and “of” mixed up, apparently. But that’s probably because if the concussion.

  21. 21
    LightningRose

    “One of these days, a Sovereign Citizen clown is going to run into a Stand-Your-Ground nut and it’s going to end tragically.”

    I’m sorry. I fail to see a down side.

  22. 22
    abb3w

    As jameshanley notes, this particular shenanigan seems a lot closer to reality than the usual sort of cargo cult law that the sovereign citizens practice usually. Obtaining title via adverse possession is in fact possible under some (oft multi-decade) circumstances, in most of the US States; getting a case thrown out of the courts by declaring that the captain has abandoned ship, not so much.

  23. 23
    scott

    #17- We have a word for declared non-citizens who won’t obey the laws and won’t leave: invaders. And there’s a whole branch of the government, quite large in fact, tasked with dealing with them.

  24. 24
    khms

    #7 Modusoperandi

    Area Man “The bank has a lien on the house, owns a mortgage note, and executes a lengthy foreclosure process via the courts.”
    Actually, the bank thinks it has it (but doesn’t know due to things like notes being passed from company to company so fast that no one kept proper track [thanks, MERS!], including not bothering to file them with the city or state), fakes some paperwork, goes in front of a friendly judge with piles of it and gets the sheriff to evict people from houses the bank may or may not own. And if the judge turns down one in ten, they wait, make more fake paperwork and try again. They’ve also evicted the families of soldiers fighting overseas, without following the proper process (another no-no).
    Compared to that, some kook moving in to your house while you’re away seems almost moral.

    Every time I hear about how these things work in the US, I’m thankful for our system. Ownership of land is only valid if registered with the cadastre office, and so are notes on it. No title search. No chasing documents around. No uncertainties about who owns the damn things.[1] (And no double loans on the same piece of land.)

    [1] Apart from those arising from, for example, inheritance, obviously – those arising from non-land aspects of the situation. But if, for example, you go to the court claiming the owner sold it to you for so much money, with a contract and all, but you failed to register the change of ownership … at best, you’ll be getting back your money. The cadastre book trumps your contract. (Careful, though: I’m not a lawyer.)

  25. 25
    dingojack

    Well clearly –
    Bwhahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!
    [draws breath}
    Bwhahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!
    Dingo

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