This post was originally published on Forbes Mar 9, 2015The United States will most likely rest its case in the prosecution of Young Earth Creationist Kent Hovind today and the defense may begin. It was expected that the government would be done Friday, but apparently they have a bit more to add.
What This Trial Is About
Kent Hovind was convicted in 2006 on a 58 count indictment, which included 45 counts of structuring - the systematic withdrawal (in his case) of amounts somewhat less than $10,000 to avoid currency reporting requirements. In addition to his long prison sentence he also forfeited "structured" funds in the amount of $430,400. Real property attributed to Hovind was substituted for the funds and seized by the government and sold, much of it to Hovind's family members. Even after losing his appeal in the Eleventh Circuit and being turned down by the Supreme Court Kent Hovind continued to believe that his conviction could be overturned.
One of the ways that Kent Hovind and Paul John Hansen, his codefendant and trustee of Creation Science Evangelism, sought to warn off buyers of the seizeed property was by filing a "lis pendens" which alerts potential purchasers that there is litigation affecting the title to the property. Hovind explained to his daughter that the lis pendens would become the equivalent of dog crap that the government would find hard to scrape from its shoes.
The filing of the "lis pendens" is at the heart of the current trial in which Hovind and Hansen are charged with contempt of court and mail fraud. Kent Hovind's supporters, Hovindicators as I call them, frame the issue as Kent Hovind having spent eight years in prison for taking his own money out of the bank now being prosecuted for mailing a letter.
The Trial So Far
Much of the government's case has been a parade of documents and experts authenticating the document. I have heard it said that much time and expense might have been avoided if Paul John Hansen had been willing to stipulate that documents signed and mailed by him, had been signed and mailed by him. Instead the jury got to hear from a notary flown in from the Midwest and a fingerprint expert who apparently enthralled reporters Abigal Megginson and Ben Sheffler with his discussion of loops, swirls and whorls. Abigal and Ben have been helping cover the case on my alternate tax blog Your Tax Matters Partner , which has pretty much been All Doc Dino all the time for the last few weeks.
On Friday two key witnesses were called by the prosecution, one was Kent's son Eric, who was interviewed by Abigal on Thursday. Jonathan Schwartz of Interlock Media, whom I am supporting in his coverage of the trial and the surrounding drama, gave this impression of Eric's testimony
Getting back to Eric Hovind’s testimony, it was delivered by the perfect picture of a loving son who is athletic, handsome, and connected. Every bit the instantly likable Christian hipster businessman, The kind of guy you want to go play golf with even if you don’t play golf. Still following a spiritual beacon while shrewd enough to keep the ministry going, transfer assets without his father knowing for two years, protect the fiscal health of his mom and siblings, and legally extend his occupancy years after the forfeit order so he and his family members might live rent free in various houses. Eric was collecting rent from tenants which he plowed back into renovations and generating savings to buy back the house he and his immediate family had been living in for forty thousand dollar free of any civil or IRS liens.
The other witness, who may be the one most crucial to the prosecution's case, was Anthony Jaworski. Mr. Jaworski put his life savings into purchasing one of the seized properties from the government. Abigal and Ben reported on his testimony
Anthony Jaworski, who bought the CSE property at 5720 Palafox St, and had subsequently filed a lawsuit against the United States in March 2013 asking for the more than $100,000 he paid for the property to be returned, also testified Friday. In his lawsuit, which was dismissed, Jaworski said he was subject to “threats, abuse, mail harassment and terror,” including a letter from Hansen regarding the legality of his purchase of the property. Jaworski seemed uncomfortable on the stand and said he just wants to sell the property and move back home to Maryland.
The type of filings that people with beliefs like Paul John Hansen make are sometimes called, perhaps with a bit of hyperbole, "paper terrorism". Early on I had quite a bit of sympathy for Hovind thinking that the government might be piling on a bit. As long as Hansen and Hovind were carrying on a paper war with the United States I thought that going after them criminally was overkill. But Jaworski is a civilian so to speak and going after him with demands that he pay $100 a day to stay on property that he bought from the United States crosses a line in my mind.
Case Not A Slam Dunk For The Prosecution
An attorney with some expertise about lis pendens, told me that it is a very privileged filing. All that is required for the filing to be in good faith is that there be some litigation affecting the property that it is reasonable to warn prospective buyers about. Hovind had a case going in federal district court alleging that prison officials withheld documents from him which caused him to miss deadlines in his criminal appeal. Arguably, at least in Hovind's mind, a favorable outcome in that case would start a chain of events that would culminate in Hovind's conviction being reversed and the property restored to him.
On Friday Judge Rodgers indicated to the defense that she might not allow them to put on a "Cheek defense" referring to a Supreme Court decision in which it was ruled that a belief does not have to be "objectively reasonable" in order to show lack of "willfulness" .
In his 2006 trial, on advice of counsel, Hovind put on no defense at all. He has promised his supporters that will not happen this time and that he expects to be on the stand for three days. Hovind may be hoping that he can put on the sort of Gish Gallop that critics accuse him of using in creation debates. Judge Rodgers's limitations on the type of defense that can put on may frustrate Hovind's plans.
Unfortunately, my own experience with criminal tax prosecution comes from reading appellate decisions. None of my team has much experience covering federal trials and Rudy Davis, voice of the Hovindicators, who has been providing multiple reports every day on the proceedings is similarly handicapped. So I really don't have a sense as to whether there is anything special about what is going it the courtroom. Here is Rudy discussing the proceedings with Coach Dave Daubenmire.
Jonathan Schwartz' report on the prosecutors's professionalism makes me think it is likely business as usual.
Watching Prosecutor Tiffany Eggers work, much like a master surgeon, makes you not only want to never cheat on your taxes or fudge a job application.You never even want to walk outside the lines on a cross walk or even think about committing something to paper that might be a slight coloration on the truth.
And In The Court Of Public Opinion
Hovindicators have been very disappointed in the number of boots that they have been able to put on the ground in Pensacola and have been calling out for a much bigger turnout this week. Here is Rudy in front of the former Dinosaur Advetntureland seeking to rally the troops.
Steven Gray was in front of the court house filming on Day 1 and you will note in the links in this post that there is not much of a crowd.
A Prophet Hath No Honor In His Own Country
Rudy is very puzzled that in a city with as vibrant a church community as Pensacola - a church community that Kent Hovind helped make prominent with his world wide video distribution, speaking tours and Dinosaur Advertureland - there is no support for Kent Hovind. Rudy discusses the phenomenon in this youtube titled "The local churches think Kent Hovind is a tax cheat."
Jonathan Schwartz was puzzled by the same question and came up with an answer by getting Steven Gray to turn the camera on himself. Steven Gray, who is 25, grew up in Pensacola. He was home schooled till the age of 17. The home schooling was supplemented by science and math instruction from Kent Hovind. He describes a warm and humorous teacher who was quite inspiring. Steven is active in his church and still holds a young earth creation view, but along with most of the rest of the evangelical community in Pensacola is not warming up to Kent Hovind's anti-government viewpoint. Apparently the evangelical community in Pensacola might sympathize with Hovind's plight and hope that he is released, but they also find him to be an embarrassment.
A similar perspective might also account for Kent's fairly tepid support from the broader "creation science" community".
Pensacola New Journal has given the trial some coverage. Here is the latest story from Kevin Robinson. PNJ ran an op-ed critical of Hovind by Dee Holmes
Kent appears to have quite a bit of support among podcasters and youtubers. The flagship website of the Hovindication movement #FreeKent covers that quite well. #FreeKent is also calling for more boots on the ground invoking the spirit of Martin Luther King.
Do you think Martin Luther King Jr. and community said, “Government is right… It’s okay we are treated terribly… Government is correct… Trust Government to do what is best…”?
WAKE UP CHRISTIANS! You are becoming zombies brainwashed by the very Government that treated blacks as if they were trash.
Unlike our colored brothers and sisters of the Civil Rights movement, through sophisticated cathartic movie theaters known as mega-churches, American Christians are being entertained by comedian pastors destroying America. These mega-church comedians are creating docile eunuch men controlled by their wives who ‘abhor manly leadership’.
WAKE UP CHRISTIAN MEN! Stop letting your wives tell you what a man is! Take your ed-hardy shirts and skinny jeans and throw them in the trash! Christ wants you to lead the household! Christ wants you to stand strong in God’s word and LEAD THE COUNTRY!
The Christian Church, like Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich (phase 3 takeover), is being held hostage by Government – force fed communist propaganda.
Do you think our colored brothers and sisters let Government spoon feed them KKK fear propaganda?! I don’t think so!
I don't know what #FreeKent's "colored brothers and sister" will make out of that.
Bob Baty's Kent Hovind and Jo Hovind v USA - IRS is fairly remarkable in its thoroughness.
A site called Fogbow - "Falsehoods unchallenged only fester and grow." - is dedicated to fighting the "birther movement" (Birthers believe that President Obama is not qualified to be President by reason of not being a natural born citizen of the Untied States). Fogbow has a forum dedicated to the Kent Hovind case, because Rudy Davis is a prominent birther, having called for the execution of President Obama as a treasonous usurper.
The Sensuous Curmudgeon - "Conserving the Enlightenment values of reason, liberty, science, and free enterprise" - seems to be dominated by schadenfreude.
Of course, the coverage by Rudy's LoneStar1776 is a great source for first hand information. Rudy's wife Erin has been fielding the calls from Doctor Hovind. He was on last night and indicated that the defense may lead with Paul Hansen's testimony. Hovind now gives a shorter estimate of his own testimony and is projecting that the trial may wrap by Wednesday.