Sovereign citizens have wacky new plot to take over government: their own grand juries
A nationwide network of “sovereign citizens” believe they can bring down federal, state, and local governments by forming their own grand juries and making demands on government officials.
The National Liberty Alliance is attempting to set up common law grand juries in each U.S. county, and the group has drawn from more mainstream Republican and Tea Party activists than typical sovereign citizen organizations.
For example, Brant Frost V is an organizer for the NLA in Coweta County, Georgia – where he is also chairman of the county’s Republican Party.
He insists common law grand juries – borrowed from colonial American history, when there were no standing police forces or prosecutors and judges knew little about the areas they presided over – are not a radical plot but would simply foster a better informed and educated jury pool.
“Being a party chairman, I didn’t want to step into something that was going to reflect badly on the party,” Frost told the Times-Herald.
He said NLA and the common law grand jury movements were basically libertarian “with heavy Christian influences,” and organizers “think they’ve found a back door into the citadel of tyranny.”
The Anti-Defamation League has identified the common law jury movement as extremist movement that has “already begun harassing local government officials.”
“The common law grand jury is a tactic of the anti-government extremist ‘sovereign citizen’ movement, intended to achieve much the same effect of the vigilante ‘common law courts’ they tried to establish in the 1990s,” said Mark Pitcavage, director of investigative research for the ADL.
Common law grand juries in two Florida counties earlier this year demanded office space, comfortable chairs, equipment, and a budget of $1.5 million, and another in New York attempted to fine a judge for failing to turn over requested documents.
Citizen grand juries have elsewhere “indicted” President Barack Obama over his birth certificate, and other elected officials have faced “indictment” for their support of federal Common Core education standards.
The NLA shared goals and group members with the failed Operation American Spring protest intended to drive Obama and other elected officials from office.
The group also shares goals and tactics with the anti-government sovereign citizens movement – although NLA members bristle at the comparison.
John Darash, who founded the NLA in 2011, filed a brief Tuesday in dozens of jurisdictions demanding the courts stop referring to him and his followers as sovereign citizens, calling the designation a communist plot to have adherents deemed mentally ill.
“This is in fact a communist conspiracy to destroy America, not a theory as these tyrants would like uninformed People to believe,” Darash said.
He complained in the filing that the term “paper terrorism” was inaccurate and prejudicial, and then expressed his support for the same tactics described in that way by authorities.
“If these false liens, frivolous lawsuits, bogus letters of credit, and other legal documents lack sound factual basis why aren’t they just defeated in a court of law,” Darash said. “The reason they cannot is because of the fiction of equity courts, that corporatists have been using to fleece the People for over a hundred years, and now that the People discovered how to use the equity courts of fiction to get justice from the judges and lawyers that have been making a fortune at this fraud, now cry foul when their own tactics are used against them.”
It’s not entirely clear how common law grand juries would enforce their alleged authority.
Darash, a member of a Colorado Oath Keepers group and New York chapter of the 9/12 Tea Party, has said during his weekly call-in Internet radio show that they would pressure local sheriffs – the highest legitimate law enforcement officer in the sovereign citizen worldview — to make arrests under threat of indictment.
One of Darash’s lieutenants, Joe Kelley, wrote a fictitious account of how a common law court would work, and that mostly seems to involve non-attorneys trading folksy and citing sovereign citizen dogma in stiffly formal language.
While the movement looks backward for inspiration, Darash has dropped veiled threats regarding his plans for the future if he cannot get duly elected sheriffs on board with his plans.
“Now there is another thing to do, if that doesn’t work,” Darash said during an Internet radio interview. “I’m not ready to speak about that until we are ready to do it, but it is an atomic bomb — it’s very strong.”
Watch as Darash outlines his views in this interview posted online by superbigbadman2:
[Image: Gentle reminder via Shutterstock]