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Saturday, August 30, 2014
Pardon By President Ron Paul - Last Hope for the Browns ?
Originally Published on forbes.com on February 13th,2012
Ed and Elaine Brown recently received bad news from the First Circuit. Their July 2009 convictions were upheld. The convictions were for quite a few things, but it boils down to how they reacted to their 2007 convictions for refusing to pay income taxes. Instead of surrendering to serve their five year sentences, they fortified their home in New Hampshire stockpiling foodand weapons. They had a lot of sympathy and support including an endorsement by presidential candidate Ron Paul, who compared them to Gandhi and Martin Luther King in this interview:
When you are sentenced to a federal prison term and instead of surrendering you fortify your home and stockpile weapons you are committing quite a few crimes such as:
conspiracy to prevent by force, intimidation or threats officers of the United States from discharging their duties
possession of firearms after having been convicted of a felony
You can look at the whole list in this press release from the US Attorney of the District of New Hampshire. The sentence was 37 years for Ed and 35 years for Elaine. I don’t know if that is concurrent or consecutive with the original five year sentences. Given their apparent age, I don’t think it matters much. Here is the description of the drama leading up to their arrest:
On June 7, 2007, Marshals were in place to make the arrest when Daniel Riley, a friend of the Browns came strolling up the driveway. Riley was alerted to the Marshals hiding in the woods, apparently by the Browns’ dog whom he was walking. Riley fled despite being ordered to stop. Marshals fired non-lethal ammunition at Riley but missed, though he was eventually subdued with a taser. Edward heard the commotion and appeared at the tower on top of his house with a .50 caliber rifle, but he did not fire.
After the botched attempt to arrest Edward, the Marshals revised their approach. By that time, the Browns’ case had gained national notoriety and supporters of the couple were flocking to their home. The Browns themselves were hosting festival-type gatherings at their home publicizing their resistance. The Marshals planned to take advantage of this by posing undercover as supporters and accomplishing the arrests in this capacity.
In October 2007, undercover Marshals made contact with the Browns through a confidential informant and learned that the couple wanted to retrieve some possessions from Elaine’s dental office in Lebanon, New Hampshire. On October 4th, undercover Marshals retrieved the property and brought it to the Browns’ Plainfield home. The Marshals unloaded the property into the garage as Edward leveled an assault rifle at them, all the while expressing a reticence to trust people he did not know. Edward however eventually warmed up to the undercover officers and replaced the assault rifle with a handgun in his waistband and invited them to join him for beers and pizza. The group hung out on the Browns’ front porch and at some point Elaine joined them, also carrying a handgun. They chatted about the couple’s legal woes including their thus far successful evasion of arrest. When asked by one of the deputies how they had managed this feat, Edward responded that authorities were afraid to arrest him because if they did people would die, including the “Marshal,” “Chief of Police,” and “Sheriff.”
The gathering continued in this fashion until one officer was able to maneuver himself between Edward and Elaine, at which time he gave a predetermined signal and the Marshals pounced. Neither Edward nor Elaine went quietly but eventually both were subdued and cuffed. Following their arrests, agents searched the Brown property and found a vast supply of explosives, firearms, and ammunition, including rifles, armor piercing bullets, pipe bombs, and bombs nailed to trees.
The rest of the First Circuit decision is not of that much interest to me, since it is about criminal trial procedure such as the evaluation of Ed’s competency to stand trial:
Edward further made a significant number of comments that reflected his atypical legal beliefs and overall distrust of the legal system. Viewed in context, these words and behaviors (though often bizarre) did not evidence confusion on Edward’s part about the legal proceedings against him, but rather reflected firmly held, idiosyncratic political beliefs punctuated with a suspicion of the judiciary. Moreover, while some of these beliefs reflected a misunderstanding of the law (namely that the district court did not have jurisdiction over him and that it was a commercial court) they do not render Edward incompetent to stand trial.
There was also stuff about evidence and jury instructions, but none of it struck me as that exciting. During the nine month stand-off with the marshals, the challenge that the Browns made was summed up in the phrase “Show me the law”:
The challenge got me to thinking. I spend most of my time helping people with tax compliance so I know a good bit about the various sections that go into computing the tax, but I could not off the top of my head say what section said you had to file. Talk about existential terror. What would I have said to Ed Brown. It was a great relief when after about five minutes I found inTitle 26 of the United States Code:
6012 Persons required to make returns of income.
Returns with respect to income taxes under subtitle A shall be made by the following:
Every individual having for the taxable year gross income which equals or exceeds the exemption amount ……..
Something tells me that would not have satisfied him. It seems that it does not satisfy Ron Paul either. In the interview, Ron Paul indicated that the Browns were the ones standing up for “the law” not the marshals. So I’m wondering how long it will be after he sworn in as President that he will be pardoning the Browns. I hope it is early as that last tax season will be real busy as we prepare refund claims for everybody for all open years