This post was originally published on Forbes May 21, 2015
It is pretty hard to surprise me, but Judge Margaret Casey's Rodgers's ruling reversing Kent Hovind's conviction for contempt of court did the trick. There was something of a one-two punch as I was also surprised over the weekend when the Government sought dismissal without prejudice of the remaining counts of the indictment, that the jury had not reached a verdict on in March. That had come in the wake of Judge Rodgers indicating that she was not open to a continuance to give the Government time to respond to defense motions.
Prosecutors have absolute, unqualified immunity from civil damages suits for their actions taken in the exercise of prosecutorial authority and discretion. And federal prosecutors enjoy complete protection under the Supremacy Clause from attempts in any non-federal court to interfere with or punish their exercise of authority.
Most of what these guys do is foolish, going on legal. There may be some perhaps good points buried deeply in their aberrant behavior, but their aberrant behavior obscures whatever good points may be in there.
At the end of the day, I hope that all of your time spent on the project can be turned into something good. Perhaps a book on tax proestors / defiers.
Probably not. Threatening to sue someone in a fake court isn’t going to get a real grand jury all hot and bothered.
The ruling is pretty straight-forward. The point is that the order did not specifically preclude him filing a lis pendens. I am not sure that that is correct. If a court order requires something (here forfeiture), I think it necessarily precludes the party subject to the order from doing something that would defeat the purpose of the order. If, for example, she had ordered forfeiture of cash that Hovind had and, rather than giving the cash to the Government, he burned it, I think that would be subject to the contempt power. Here, he impaired the Government’s ability to realize on the forfeiture order, which was the Government’s point for why he should be held in contempt of the clear forfeiture order.
Having Kent Hovind do more time for having something filed that did not do him any good seems to be a poor use of government resources. If he has a jury trial and is acquitted, which strikes me as a distinct possibility, it will be trumpeted as a major victory in the tax protester community. (Note Kent Hovind does not consider himself a tax protester). If he is convicted and sentenced to serve more time, he will be viewed as a martyr. Either way I don’t see this effort as encouraging people to be more tax compliant, which is really the point of criminal prosecution