Jonathan Schwartz, Ben Sheffler and Abigal Megginson report on the fifth trial day - Monday March 9, 2015.
Morning Has Broken
Monday morning, back in court, and the atmosphere had changed.
Gone were the vested homeland security personnel from the front of the courthouse, and the protesters had begun to blend into the landscape except one new face on the strip, a well-built ex-military black bereted individual who was pacing up and down the medium strip shouting “Free Kent,” and a whole lot of other things less intelligible and more angry.
One of guards asked us if he was with our group which we found curious.
Rudy Davis and a couple of the leaders of the Hovindicators were in session but this time taking notes. Rudy had on reading glasses and had traded the scowl in exchange for a studious school boy vibe. He was taking notes and sitting behind the prosecution with a clean view of the witness box.
There were a lot more families and individuals there in support of Hovind, Hansen, Creationism and the Sovereign Citizen Movement. Two upbeat women from Louisiana who were able to make it because they worked for an oil refinery and they were on strike, a young black man in a long frock, a mom and her kids from Alabama, a few individuals and the usual ten or so middle age males who ranged in look from blue suited to a bit more rugged. It was not clear if there were any folks from Pensacola; I suspect some. Some of the women and children were dressed modestly in formless skirts and thick stockings, looking like they came from a rural religious sect. The boys, who were homeschooling and their mothers were making sure to explain the court proceedings outside during breaks, were all in khakis with neat hair cuts. They were exceptionally well behaved, barely fidgeted, shy and polite. Everyone this part of the panhandle seems gracious, generous and likable.
Hovind had the color back in his face, he looked rested and he definitely smiled broadly at the pews more often during the course of the day.
Stuff That Bores Rudy
The government’s lead prosecuting attorney, Tiffany Eggers, started the proceedings with some housekeeping, IRS Agent Chuck Evans on the stand. The review stuff before the test. Restating that the civil, or DOR liens had been lifted, not criminal, that the properties were worth $430,000 and change which was the money judgement, that there were no other forfeitures yet beside those. Also, that the properties were being sold piecemeal and that the lis pendens liens from the defendant were null and void.
Scott Schneider was Egger’s last witness, and he was not on the stand long. His cross served to remind the assembled as to the contents of Exhibit 11 A, Document 391 from March 2011.
How Sovereigns Communicate With Pretenders or Frivolous Nonsense - You Get To Choose
It was one of several of Hovind’s filings in his defense; where he restates that he does not need to follow the orders of the court, that his is a primal relationship to the land and a singular allegiance to God, that he intends to return to his property, claims sovereign immunity from the tax related crimes that he has been accused of, that he is not a legislative subject or person of the state of Florida or the United States, meaning not a subject citizen, de facto, also not a registered voter or willing beneficiary of any Trust, not a corporate entity in the state of Florida, who claims to “ contract with or not with whom it pleases me,” and beholden only to the Creator and not to pseudo sovereign entities, he is being held for a victim-less crime, and any public servant involved must refute the document within three days or they de facto agree to it, that the government must return all properties and pay back all fines and so forth.
He continued with the territorial jurisdiction challenge, the motion to vacate Church property which was put in front of Magistrate Judge E. Timothy in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida.
Chief District Judge M. Casey Rodgers made a sweeping refutation in May of 2011 that among other items, Hovind’s request for an immediate release as part of a string of frivolous request. Hovind then parlayed, in Government’s exhibit 12, Hovind’s response to report of recommendation, June 1, 2011, that Kent was a free inhabitant and this goes back to declarations in 1772, that we are free citizens, with free ingress to/and regress, that the State had presented no evidence, that no court can trick an article free inhabitant any order vacated on such notice people to believing they have territorial jurisdiction.
IRS Agent Schneider continued to be cross examined. He testified that Nebraskan based IRS Agent Derick Tarr had served a subpoena for Hansen to appear before the Grand Jury on August 19, 2014 to submit a fingerprinting and handwriting sample. On July 30, 2014 Hansen wrote the district court, referring to the subpoena, and stated, among other things, that said subpoena had no basis in law, or territorial jurisdiction, that the agents and court officials would be wise to protect personal liability and that the burden of proof was on the court and the agents to prove why Hansen should comply, and the members of the Grand Jury as well were liable; all this per the Articles of Confederation. Furthermore, that he would fine the U.S. $150 an hour for his time wasted, that he did not, as the affiant, agree to the claim that he had agreed to be a U.S citizen, that Grand Jury subpoena did not take into account that he was a descendant of original settlers, liberated by the King of England, that he was free by Birthright, nature and God, and Earth is the Lord’s.
We hope we have not lost you there, but such is the language of sovereignty. If you want more of it, check out Hansen's website - Paul John.
Scott Schneider Under Cross
Rudy Davis has compared Scott Schneider of IRS Criminal Investigation to Javert, the obsessed police inspector in Les Miserables who pursues the protagonist Jean Valjean relentlessly.
Then there was a bunch of technical testimony which amounted to Hansen kind of dodging Witness and Victim travel coordinator Gretchen Busby’s offer of pre-paid flight and lodging. I mean, gosh, she even on August 13 texted him as to his full name and seat preference and DOB. Meanwhile, Hansen keeps insisting in various documents that he is in no way refusing to apply the law, and the ever more insistent travel office it is imperative to communicate with Tiffany Eggers.
Schneider says that the God Quest purchase on August 4, 2014 discharged the Civil tax liens on 100, 21, 29 Cummings and 400 block not criminal. Hansen’s filings valued the properties at 3.5 million on Nov. 23, 2010. Judge Rodgers then explained to Jury: civil tax assessments doesn’t mean Kent Hovind did anything wrong in this case.
Christopher Klotz, Hansen’s attorney, challenged Schneider on his familiarity with personna of jurisdiction arguments. Klotz asked Schneider about the legal challenges Hansen had sent to the clerk regarding his grand jury subpoena. When Klotz attempted to get specific and ask what legal challenges Hansen was referring to, Eggers objects due to irrelevance.
The attorneys take a moment to speak to the judge after the objection. Klotz comes back to question Schneider once again and this time asks whether Schneider has ever dealt with such legal challenges before in his 20 years as an IRS agent. Schneider replied he has indeed dealt with legal challenges, but he has never seen someone fail to show up when they were served a grand jury subpoena. Klotz also pointed out that Hansen did, in fact, notify the court, the clerk and Eggers that he would be complying with the subpoena.
Thomas Keith, Hovind’s public defender, then takes his turn questioning Schneider in regards to document 391. He pointed out that it was an addition to a previous document to dismiss indictment.
Eggers returns to ask if Schneider ever had anyone not show up for a grand jury subpoena, to which he replied, no. Schneider also expressed that the statement Hansen gave about not being a U.S. citizen was frivolous.
The prosecution rested its case at 10 a.m.
Lawyerly Stuff At Recess
Judge Rodgers let out for recess and spoke with the attorneys during this time. Keith brought out major concerns about rule 29, the June 2007 forfeiture and what exactly the government has to prove. Keith also strongly expressed his demand that the jury know what mail fraud is and have an agreement to what is committing mail fraud. He went on to demand the jury have a “meeting of the minds.” He also wanted to explain the lack of evidence--Hansen’s quiet title and the fact that Hovind had no part in Hansen’s actions. Judge Rodgers argued with this reasoning because Hovind’s cell mate was a supposed legal genius who explained everything to him.
There was talk about the conspiracy to commit mail fraud. Eggers backed up her claim of guilt on the defense’s side when she stated that everytime Hansen did something legal for CSE, he would get payment from Kent Hovind. The U.S. government is standing with their claim of contempt instead of obstruction. Eggers pointed to the six occasions Kent filed lis pendens. Hearsay was a topic of discussion during the Jury's recess. Eggers, Klotz and Keith bantered about what content was and wasn’t hearsay. Eggers stated that the claims of Kent Hovind in regard to questioning the court are frivolous.
Soon after, in one of the many huddles of the lawyers with the Judge, the Judge said she would ponder contempt vs. obstruction. The Judge had a way of appearing open minded even when any of the lawyers knew she was rejecting their suggestion. It could not of been delivered with more grace.
Then the Biven suit was discussed, and various points of law were debated, and Hansen started twisting and stretching and twisting in his seat.
At that point everyone gasped when Hovind’s defense attorney was suggesting that he include all of Hovind’s notices and defenses the next day, possibly just for some sort of sadistic leverage, items that went with the Government’s 11 B 399, which would have included all of Hovind’s platform as expressed in his legal challenges, 364, 365, 367, 376, 379, 388, 400, 430, 443, 454, 458, redacted of course.
The Education Of Paul John Hansen
Hansen took the stand and Klotz began his defense. His testimony began with unexpected vigor and charm, guided by Klotz, with some personal backstory. He told us he is from Nebraska, while denying the place was a state or in the U.S., typical sovereign citizen jurisdiction and venue mumbo jumbo, but a nice framing nonetheless.
He worked on his parents cattle feed lot of 150 acres, that there were 1500 cattle and at 15 years of age, he often feed the cattle all himself. Neighbors said he was hardworking, veterinarians told him he was intelligent, (some sort of savant?). His family grew hay, corn and soybeans. They left the cattle lot for Omaha, Neb., 15 years ago and he bought father’s farm in 1995, sold it in 2004.
He never read a book in elementary or high school, he would just read the first sentence on the test and run with it. He then became fascinated with God’s hand in history, started reading like crazy, read the entire encyclopedia, and sought to understand the role of a sovereign God in history as a theme in scriptures and a proper biblical government. He then studied law in historical context, both English and American law, to whom and where these laws apply.
Hansen studied law back to the Magna Carta and Mayflower Compact and the 1776 Declaration of Independence, along with principles of freedom, which in part means no man is free, but is free to serve as God dictates. With some real feeling and passion, he explains that America was the great experiment in freedom. Hansen studies the true intent of any law given, and joined a law study group in Omaha, Neb., which met monthly for years, usually a couple of dozen folks. They would handily discuss topics such as citizenship and territorial jurisdiction and how to position themselves in regards to mortgages and traffic tickets.
The group studied the scope of laws, whose overall purpose was to remove mythology and opinions. Mythology: not backed by science, as in phony evidence as it did not apply to Hansen. This same group has been meeting for 50 years. Hansen has been a part of it for 15 years and insisted law is written in ways most don’t understand and they do that for a reason. There is a connection between government expansion and the increasing complexity of law. Hansen explained that he spoke to crowds as large as 1,000 people on internet conferences, and it’s important to educate others because if you don’t know history, you will repeat it. In reacting to the laugh at me now but I will be proven correct later construct, he said, “We once had slavery in this country.” At this point there was an objection by Eggers who seemed to be at wits end. Judge Rodgers was consistently diplomatic and kind, and allowed the witnesses most times to finish their thoughts.
Hansen went on to glowingly layout more of his life story, that he has done radio programs, right off the earpiece from his car for two hours. He loves to talk to people in coffeeshops, and even spoke before the Nebraska legislature, explaining consequences when someone tries to pass an “unconstitutional law,” which won him a standing ovation. An autodidact, he relishes the study of law and religious beliefs. God is the lawmaker, God has delegated this to humans up to a point but man must comply with God’s law.
Hansen And Hovind Meet
Hansen recalled attending a Hovind seminar in Lincoln, Neb., around 2000 and was “elated” because Kent answered questions Hansen had had for years. In 2006, Hansen heard of Hovind’s indictment and wrote and invited Hovind to call to offer his help and services.
Glen Stoll was creator of the CSE Trust and had experience with Trust law.. Stoll had no less than 250 Trusts in operation. Hansen then explained that there were two types of Trusts, those created by government or common law and Ecclesiastical Trusts. There were five trustees in the CSE Trust. They would meet online with the purpose to maintain property, perpetually, be a good neighbor to those they came into contact with, and to protect trust assets. The Trust existed at least five to 10 years before Hansen got involved. Glen Stoll was Head Director before that. The Trust was not in operation when Hansen first got involved, and the government was taking away properties at the time. Cash flow was zero in October of 2007, in part because Eric Hovind had adopted the Trust. Hansen spent the next 8 years helping Hovind, all on a volunteer basis. He repeated several times and in several different ways that the duties of Trustees don’t do anything illegal, and legally maintain the goals of the Trust.
The Trust’s goals were to provide proper challenges as well as asking if the courts have jurisdiction and if they are acting constitutionally. Kent Hovind showed signs of interest when he facepalms when Eggers objects that a Trust cannot have an opinion.
Trustees believed they had a right to an Ecclesiastical Trust, and they believed they had a remedy, a grand sweeping impossible-to-refute remedy, if they had the had the opportunity to put the person of record on witness. If the U.S. Court system had written authority to forfeiture, then it was only fair that the Trust tried to get their day in court in 2011 with the quiet title. They just needed to be able to get the Agent of Government to sit in the witness stand to state what the U.S. government had written and then let the Trust cross examine.
Again, it was the obligation of the Trust to challenge status of land being the Trust’s vs. being the government’s. Hansen wanted a chance to ask what evidence the government had, along with the ability to file on behalf of the Trust. As the Trust officer, Hansen had the duty to legally seek remedy, and so it was acceptable and correct that they filed liens on the properties. There were nine documents filed by Hansen on behalf of Trust that supported the belief that man cannot take land from man, as it was land of CSE, and not the U.S. Hansen said that the Trust was terrified that the land and buildings of Dinosaur Adventure Land would not be sold for the at least $2,000,000 it was worth, instead being sold for the $430,300 that the government sought to collect.
Property potentially was to be used for a CSE theme park, and its value was rising due to the proximity of other entities. Pensacola Christian College, and Pensacola Christian Academy had all added value as they were both looking to expand. (It was mentioned today, and affirmed by the Judge, that Mrs. Horton, the founder of the college, had turned the Hovinds into the IRS). Hansen would offer repeat that the liens were there just to protect the proper value of property, the “Theme Park,” and each piece was a link in the chain, even the parking lot. Hansen had an obligation, as a member of the Trust not to lose the whole thing.
Yes, he admitted, sometimes this duty to the Trust conflicts with the Hovinds and even the ministry as Eric appeared to take control of Trust. Eric had formally resigned, and the Trust notified Eric he was acting without authority.
When asked about whose name was on the deeds and regarding the Umbrella Trust, Hansen said that Eric Hovind had no authority because he was a ministry worker. Kent Hovind was not a Trustee but they welcomed/respected his opinion, but again and again Hansen presented the view that Hovind was a scientist, oblivious and unaware and somewhat indifferent to Trust affairs. Again and again Hansen said they wanted their day in court, an opportunity they were entitled to. He admitted to contacting an attorney, as the court was forcing them to hire one. But he scoffed at attorneys, whom he typified as not wanting to get audited or butt heads.
The four Trustees voted to approve claim of lien, with Glen Stoll filing, according to Hansen in what he said was a common law injunction in June 2012. He did not attempt or encourage anyone to cloud the title, nor did he have any participation in that vote.
At this point it seemed he was doing a passable job at proving his innocence, the morning of the trial and being examined by his own attorney who was serving him. The reason that he forwarded what Glen Stoll had put together as a PDF to the title insurance company was that the Trust was acting as a good neighbor. He went on to continue to defend his actions, always being asked to by Stoll or the Trust, always the faithful and godly company man.
His attorney, at that point having some push behind him, Klotz wanted Rule 29 count denied, willful conspiracy. They Judge said she’d think about it, and then she said no.
Hansen, indignantly, would not deliver handwriting and fingerprints at the Omaha courthouse. He insisted he was challenging the subpoena, not disobeying the June 2012 order. He went on to argue that an invalid order, that they did not have a chance to contest, was not an order.
Hansen also swore that in every detail, of every action he took, he was slavishly careful not to open himself up to be charged with any form of contempt or cloud the title. He made no agreements that could have been misconstrued as illegal conduct.
After the lunch break, Hansen was back on the witness stand. Klotz continued questioning him, specifically about his intentions.
Hansen said there was “no intent at all” to defraud the government. He described that if he saw someone drop a penny, he’d have to pick it up and give it back. “Fraud is wrong, fraud is theft; God’s watching.”
More On Sovereignty
Hansen spoke of his U.S. citizenship, saying that “actually stepping down from birthright” is when we take on citizenship. “Rights come from God. They don’t come from anybody else,” he said. He said to remain in birthright that the government “has very little governance on you.” He testified that he never said he told anyone involved in the case that he was or was not a U.S. citizen.
Hansen said he was not born on government land, although the city he was born in is Pender, Neb. He said he is “technically not a resident” and doesn’t “have a residence.”
Hansen said he doesn’t believe government can take property, and that you’ve “always got to challenge.” “I exercised my right to challenge authority,” he said.
Hansen said he first saw Hovind at one of his lectures about 15-20 years ago. Then in 2006, he wrote a letter to Hovind after he was indicted, saying he was an expert of legal challenges.
“I could clearly see he was defenseless,” Hansen said.
And through the challenges Hovind filed, he “believed he would prevail in his case,” Hansen said. close to 100 people put the challenges together, according to Hansen, who were experts on board for Hovind’s benefit. Hansen said Hovind stayed out of the legal dealings because “it was Greek to him.”
“(Hovind) completely stayed out of it, he didn’t even ask us to do it,” Hansen said.
Glen Stoll, who created the CSE trust, was biblically based and recruited Hansen based on his credentials and knowledge of legal matters. Hansen said Stoll was the “most qualified person” for the board of trustees. Hansen said Hovind was never a member of the board of trustees.
Hansen recruited a man to help with the research of Hovind’s defense of his first conviction, a man Hansen only remembered as Dale.
“He gave me confidence in the documents,” he said.
Hansen said it could take five to 10 years and about $50,000, although only about $15,000 was used, to create Hovind’s defense.
“Those challenges are not going to go away, we’re going to have our day in court,” he said. “We have a fantastic remedy put together as soon as he gets out.”
Hansen said that CSE wanted to maintain common law protection, so he filed eight or nine liens, one for each property. Hansen believed that since the CSE land is not of the U.S., U.S. courts cannot take it away, and the trust operates under common law. Courts wouldn’t accept the documents, however, because Hansen wasn’t a lawyer. And a lawyer is against the belief of the CSE trust, although they eventually had to hire one.
Hansen said he first learned on Hovind’s filing of lis pendens in an email. He said nobody communicated anything to him about Hovind filing lis pendens.
“I was completely in the dark about that,” he said.
Hovind had been accepting legal advice from his Muslim cellmate Alex, and Hansen said he told Hovind to, “Be careful. Don’t file things without us looking at it.”
In an email from Hansen to Hovind, Hansen said to leave the legal matters to Dale, Stoll and the trust.
Eggers then cross-examined Hansen.
It started off with Hansen disclosing his education--a high school diploma and one year of college. He said he’d been offered an attorneyship, but he didn’t want it. This caught the ear of Eggers, and she, thinking that the jury might interpret that to mean he had experience as a lawyer, asked to approach Judge Rodgers, along with the other attorneys.
Unlike nearly every other witness, Hansen watched the attorneys intently as they met with Judge Rodgers, sitting only feet away from them.
What came of the meeting was a longer discussion, without the jury present, about Hansen’s perception as a lawyer. Eggers pointed out that the Supreme Court of Nebraska, Hansen’s home state, had ordered an injunction against him for unauthorized practice of law, saying that he was “deceptive...and poses a risk to the public.” Judge Rodgers said Hansen could continue his answer because an attorneyship could be interpreted differently, and it wasn’t clear what Hansen meant. Eggers said she didn’t want to hear what Hansen had to say anyway, and continued questioning him.
Hansen said that other than him, there are three other trustees and one director (Glen Stoll), although he can’t remember the others’ names. Eggers pointed out that other names of possible trustees don’t show up in any emails or letters, just Hansen’s and Stoll’s. He did admit to memory problems.
“I don’t even remember your last name and it’s been said many times in court,” he said to Eggers.
Hansen did say, however, that he has a high IQ when it comes to analytical matters.
Eggers asked about the letter Hansen mailed to the title clerk’s office, which had his fingerprints on it. He said he put the letter in front of his house, but he doesn’t know if it passed through federal territory. This was after the June 2012 order that stated any future liens “in any manner” could cause the defendants to be prosecuted.
“We didn’t think that order was valid,” Hansen said. He added that he has to say he wasn’t aware of the order because he didn’t think it was valid, although he said “it appears like a document I received in the past.”
In total, about $3.5 million in liens on all the properties were filed by Hansen. Anthony Jaworski in particular, was asked in a letter by Hansen to pay $100 a day for use of the land, totaling $14,000.
Hansen was not listed as defendant on the June 2012 order, however, so he said in an August 2012 email that he could possibly file liens again under his name, and ended it with a smiley face.
”I’m happy that we could possibly stay in the game,” Hansen said of why he included the smiley face.
Hansen said he didn’t vote on filing more liens, but “the board wanted me to mail it,” he said.
During another instance when the attorneys met with Judge Rodgers, Hovind gave Hansen a small hand clap.
At least twice, Derick Tarr, an IRS special agent in Omaha, said he could be arrested. Hansen said he was refused a meaningful opportunity before court to cross examine Tarr about the document’s force and effect.
Hansen said he questioned who ordered him from Nebraska to Florida. He seemed unable to admit that a Nebraska judge had ordered him to Florida, saying that it appeared to him that the clerk in Florida requested his presence.
In Klotz’s redirect of Hansen, Hansen said he never approved the filing “in no way at all,” but approved for Stoll to use his signature on the document.
Hovind Briefly Takes The Stand
Unlike his first trial, Kent Hovind took the stand Monday. His lawyer Thomas Keith asked him if he was ready, and Hovind said “Yeah.” Most of the short time he was testifying was dedicated to telling his background and how he came to build his ministry. At one point when he was telling how God had provided financial assistance through various people to CSE, he appeared to tear up.
He will continue his testimony today at 8:30 a.m.
Ben Sheffler is a freelance journalist living in Pensacola, Fla. He studies psychology at the University of West Florida. You can follow him on Twitter @bensheffler.
18-year-old Abigail Megginson is an up-and-coming journalist from Pensacola, Florida. She is currently the editor-in-chief of her college newspaper (Pensacola State College’s The Corsair) and is looking to break into broadcast journalism.
Filmmaker Jonathan Schwartz is the executive director of Interlock Media. Interlock documentary Faith in the Big House, which explored the role of evangelical religion in prison life recently aired on PBS.