The reason I can't get that excited about that is that Kent has already been convicted on one count. The best stab that I can take at the sentencing guidelines is that he will get two to three years for that. A lot of that time will have passed, by the time any appeal is decided. A successful appeal of a criminal conviction can result in a retrial. The Supreme Court's decision in the case of John Cheek energized people with alternative views of taxation, but did not, in the end, do Mr. Cheek much good as he lost on retrial.
Still, Kent has put his trust in Ernie, so if you want to support Kent's defense USJF is where it is at, so don't let me discourage you.
I am second guessing Ernie's decision and I have a theory as to why he went the way he did, but I'll give you a bit of background first. If you are very familiar with the case and the movement surrounding it, you can skip a few paragraphs.
What Is The Kent Hovind Case About?
Independent Baptist minister and young earth creationist, Kent Hovind, nearing the end of a long sentence for tax related charges (including "structuring", the systematic withdrawal of amounts slightly less than $10,000 to avoid currency reporting requirements) finds himself facing new charges. In March, a jury found him guilty of contempt of court, but did not reach a verdict on more serious fraud and conspiracy charges. A new trial for Kent and his co-defendant, Paul John Hansen is scheduled on May 18 in Pensacola, although both time and place are subject to change.
Kent Hovind's supporters have been waging a vigorous social media campaign on his behalf. Their flagship website is #FreeKent. Rudy Davis's youtube channel LoneStar1776 features regular calls from Kent Hovind and lately Paul John Hansen also. Rudy Davis has deferred his interest in geocentrism and the illegitimacy of the Obama presidency to make his channel all Hovindication all the time.
Not Ready For Prime Time?
Hovindication is still struggling to break out of its own echo chamber into the broader Christian right. A We The People petition for a pardon was archived after getting 1,812 signatures. Before shifting to another venue, Coach Dave Daubenmire's legal defense fund struggled to hit $5,000. Compare that to the Indiana pizza shop that indicated that it would not cater gay weddings (Really big demand for that? Who knew?). The site for their benefit raised over $800,000 from over 29,000 donors in a couple of days.
I have a lot of issues with the Hovindication narrative that Kent Hovind is a victim of religious persecution imprisoned on trumped up charges for taking his own money out of the bank and now being threatened with life imprisonment for mailing a letter. I do, however, still believe that the government's current prosecution of Hovind might be excessive and that we would all be better served if they fought crime elsewhere. I keep wavering in that view the more I listen to Hovindicators, but that's another story.
At any rate, I was glad to hear that Coach Dave Daubenmire had stepped up and offered to raise money for Kent to put on a conventional defense, although from what I could gather his public defender was doing a pretty good job. There are more developments there, but first we should take a look at the course that Paul John Hansen has chosen.
It's All About Jurisdiction
Paul John Hansen went on LoneStar1776 to send a message to his attorney to instruct him to file a number of defenses and turn over documents and that Hansen would be representing himself. Hansen had two separate phone calls with Rudy afterward to more thoroughly explain his theories.
Much of the Hovindication narrative is something of a confusing Gish Gallop of things like the pedophile prosecutor and Jo Hovnd not being able to put on her bathrobe when arrested, bibles not being opened in the courtroom and one of the prosecutors being a Georgetown graduate. (Georgetown is run by the Jesuits. See the connection?) Hansen, however presents a clear articulate theory.
The Cliff Notes of it is that the statutory law of the United States and the jurisdiction of its courts is much more limited than most people think. Hansen does not have a contractual relationship with the United States government and nothing he is purported to have done was done on land owned by the federal government.
In his closing statement at the first trial, Christopher Klotz, Hansen's public defender, indicated that Hansen had a fine legal mind, that was stuck in the eighteenth century.
What's In A Name?
Rudy asked if Hansen should be referred to as a "free inhabitant" as the term "sovereign citizen" which some have used in relation to his views has taken on unsavory connotations as this write-up from the Southern Poverty Law Center shows? Hansen said that he had used the term "free inhabitant", but now prefers to make "them" prove what category he falls in.
How Is It Working So Far?
Hansen is quite sanguine about the defense that he is going to put on, with witnesses being called to demonstrate that the government has no jurisdiction over him. After that the judge and the prosecutors will find themselves in front of a "court of record" which will order damages. He thinks the best thing they can do is to back down now.
I have been having trouble figuring out the whole "court of record" thing. Hansen gives instructions on how they should be set up here. Here is the only example of a filing in one of Hansens's courts I have been able to find.
Hansen was taking on Rhonda K. Peavy, whose job it is to collect property taxes. For whatever it is worth the Court of Appeals of Nebraska ended up with summary judgment in her favor.
I found a power point that explains the Independent Jural Society Community Court. Apparently free inhabitants can convene a court in accordance with the "Word of God". Among the reasons for convening a court is to protect people against "encroachment from other claims of governance"- like the United States Of America, whose agents seem to believe that their authority is not as severely circumscribed as Hansen does.
The part that is a little troubling is that "Each individual can, by he authority of God, take a valid determination and get what is rightfully his."
What is frightening about the "sovereign citizen" movement is the prospect of sovereigns out there enforcing the decisions of their courts. JJ MacNab in a forthcoming book - The Seditionists: Inside the Explosive World of Anit-Government Extremism in America discusses the implications of there being as many as 300,000 Americans who believe that they are exempt from all laws, taxes and debts. (Of course, Hansen believes we are all subject to God's law, which will be interpreted by godly men gathering in "courts of record")
For whatever it is worth Hansen seems to believe that circumstances where violence is justified are extremely rare.
The latest is that Kent will be sticking with his public defender, but that will be backed up by the United States Justice Foundation, which is where the money being raised is headed. My experts on federal criminal defense, who prefer to stay off the record, were not impressed when they looked into USJF which seems to be more into writing briefs to support right wing causes than actually representing people charged with crimes.
I doubt that USJF will help Hovind. It looks like that Group is in to right wing causes. What Hovind needs is a solid legal defense, not a cause or a group that sponsors causes.
USJF briefs, while espousing extremely "conservative" -- i.e., 19th Century-based, property-rights-focused, limited-federal-government -- constitutional theories, are of reasonable professional quality. I don't see any evidence of expertise in federal criminal law or federal tax law, which makes the Hovind choice seem questionable. My own opinion, as you know, is that KH needs criminal defense assistance more than he does political/rhetorical support.
In yesterday's conference call of the Hovindicators, Ernie Land indicated that Thomas Keith, the public defender, will continue representing Hovind. USJF will focus on preserving matters for appeal. According to Ernie, the attorney and paralegals working on the matter are representing USJF not Hovind.
One of my experts indicated that if Hovind were going to put on a totally conventional defense, his attorney would move for severance of his case from Hansen's.
My impression of their thinking is that there is hope that Hansen's approach will work or that failing that Kent's conventional defense will work giving him two bites at the apple. I don't think that the first bite is worth much at all, but of course that is not Ernie Land's view. Ernie had previously put an appeal out on We Are The Future Generations for "common law theorists" and people with similar views to step up to make Kent Hovind a test case.
Why Kent Hovind?
One of the tenets of Hovindication is that Kent Hovind has never been a tax protester and that he has paid all the taxes that he owes. Ironically the number one proof cited by #FreeKent are letters from three "professionals" that are a potpourri of discredited tax protester arguments. The theories in the letter and the theories that Hovind propounded when he spoke about the income tax before his incarceration indicate that almost nobody has to pay income taxes.
Despite the disingenuousness of Kent's "I have paid all the taxes I owe" statements (There is the matter of the final order of the Tax Court saying he owes over $3 million), I have little doubt of his sincerity. The purpose of the small number of prosecutions for tax related crimes is to encourage compliance by the rest of us. This particular prosecution seems like it may be doing more harm than good.
If Hovind had been conventionally tax compliant, he would have not had to pay much in the way of taxes. His organization would have qualified as a 501(c)(3) and paid him most of his salary as a housing allowance. As a minister he was entitled to elect out of social security on earnings from his ministry. True CSE would have had to pay payroll taxes on the ministry employees, but donations to CSE would have been tax deductible (People might have been deducting them anyway, but that is a different issue).
At the present time, this mess promises to not end well for either Hovind and his family or the cause of conventional tax compliance. You know, the notion that most of us are required to file income tax returns and pay the balance due and that it is reasonable for their to be an agency charged with enforcing those requirement.
Since Hovind was convicted of one charge in the first trial, we can be confident that there will be an appeal of some sort and that it will likely be run with Hovnd in prison, so the Hovindication movement in its present form promises to persist for at least another couple of years. Its elements resonate with many of the concerns of the Christian right and there is a decent chance that it will break into the mainstream, possibly being picked up by a relatively prominent politician.
My dream of a free conventionally tax compliant Kent Hovind who will focus his energies and persuasiveness on prison reform, where I find much common ground with him, continues to recede, but I can keep hoping, which brings me to why I think Ernie chose USJF.
Where Ernie Seems To Be Coming From
Ernie Land holds similar views to Paul John Hansen on the illegitimacy of the federal judiciary. I asked Ernie to explain to me what they were talking about when they were referring to a "court of record" and this was his response.
Great Question, and a question I now have asked of many due to the FACT the US District Courts are not allowing Constitutional arguments and denying even the Constitutional right of amendment VI assistance of counsel. To any intelligent person who does some research one realizes that amendment VI was framed and ratified before there were any BAR licensed Attorneys, therefore, all and I do mean all, statues, codes and regulations requiring said counsel to be a BAR licensed Attorney fails. So how can hundreds of cases set bad precedent to the effect Judges can not only refuse amendment VI right of assistance of counsel to those like Paul Hansen , who insist on it, but also forcibly steal the rights of those like Paul by granting BAR licensed Attorney over their objections on record, and then refusing to allow them (Paul) to even act on his own behalf, by saying you have an Attorney and your power of Attorney recognized by this court lies with that Attorney I appointed, against your wishes and rights. This is a clear to even a dummy violation of the people’s rights under the people’s Constitution, and the 1 area I feel could be fought to and won at the Supreme Court level to overturn any conviction. So are these Courts, courts of record?So Ernie Land seems to believe that the federal judicial system is totally corrupt. Nonetheless, Kent charged him with helping put on a conventional defense. So he found an organization that focuses heavily on running lawsuits complaining about what the government is doing is unconstitutional rather than some cynical bastard who is good at getting people out of trouble using every reasonable trick in the book. It reminds me of a story that my friend James told me about a problem he had once. It is important that you realize that I am changing the details quite a bit, although the essence of the story is still there.
Judge Dale, the claimed retired Federal Judge, says the only actual court of record is the International Court of Trades. I kind of buy into that because in my previous actions against Government Agencies my U.C.C. claims stopped all their actions against me personally, and against business I held ownership of. HUMMM? Wonder why? I have also noted that a proper claim under common law, backed up with a U.C.C. 1 lien recorded at the Hague International Court and after proper securing and perfecting recorded in Washington D.C. does something financially to even those public officials claiming public immunity. It destroys their ability to have any credit and live a lifestyle they like to live at their levels in Government. This is a form of retaliation against them which wrecks their lives. Maybe if enough people knew this and attacked them in this way the violations of our rights might cease by these corrupt Judges and Attorneys. I know you oppose this method, but I also know it works well. I also know trying to convert those U.C.C. liens to U.S. dollars leads to prison time as enemy of the state. (Montana 7 as example). So my thoughts destroy the false State, but never convert it into their false money.
Conspiracy or not, our freedoms are not allowed in the current Court system, so where does one find the court of record that holds true to the U.S. Constitution? Good question?
A Shared Language
James had a client name Joe who inherited a business corporation in another country. Let's call it a vineyard if France. (So now you know that the guy's name is not Joe. The business has nothing to do with grapes and wine and it's not in France.) Only Joe forgot to tell James about the vineyard for like four years. Then he casually mentioned it and James's head nearly exploded.
I won't get into the technical detail, but even if Joe's individual income tax was not affected by the vineyard transactions, there were definitely all sorts of disclosures that needed to be made and the penalties for not making them are really nasty.
James told Joe that he was going to have to pull in an expert in order to get it all straight and it would have to be a larger firm or a very specialized boutique firm that understood the disclosures, knew how to deal with them being late and could get the information from Joe's people in France.
Joe told James he would have to talk to Jean who could talk to Maurice who did all the accounting work for the vineyard. The solution that ended up being arrived at was that Joe would hire an American firm that Maurice knew of and thought very highly of. James figured that would work out. Only it didn't.
The problem was that the firm that Maurice thought so highly of focused on the problems of French nationals doing business in the United States. They did not have a clue as to what the requirements are for a United States national doing business in France. So why did Maurice insist on Joe hiring that particular firm? Everybody there spoke French, really well.
So Ernie Land charged with finding "bar attorneys" to help in Kent's defense found some who "speak his language" to the greatest extent possible. It does not appear from his discussion that they are really addressing Kent's immediate need, which is to win the next trial on the more serious fraud charges.
I'm afraid this is not going to end well.
Peter J Reilly CPA hopes to be the first tax blogger to give up his day job. The Hovind story will probably not do it for him, but his readers seem to find it interesting so he is sticking with it.