Washington 'sovereign citizen' risks property to test wacky legal theory

A Washington “sovereign citizen” will have his land auctioned off after he stopped paying taxes six years ago.

David Darby, who owns 4.7 acres in Clark County, claims the state constitution from 1889 is invalid, and the proper constitution is one drawn up in 1878 – when statehood was first suggested.

As far as he knows, no one has ever gone to court to test the validity of the earlier constitution – which Darby says explicitly prohibits property taxes and other liens on property.

"I want to take it into court," Darby said. "I want them to prove the original constitution has been terminated."

He has filed various affidavits and made public proclamations that he claims have given him a “land patent” on the property, which is not connected to a sewer line.

Darby also filed a criminal complaint against the county in U.S. District Court, claiming the "government cannot take both liberty and property from a citizen without imposing civil death against the citizen."

The 69-year-old Darby is a longtime activist in the anti-government “patriot” movement, and he says he deliberately stopped paying his taxes to force the legal confrontation.

“Everything I’ve done is constitutional,” Darby said. “If it’s not constitutional, then all they have to do is prove it, and I will stop this. I will pay the taxes. But because they have not done this, I would not pay the taxes, and I cannot get this into federal court until I am hurt. So once they actually sell my property, I’ve been hurt. Then I will file in federal court.”

The auction is scheduled for Tuesday morning, but Darby said he has no intention of leaving his mobile home that sits on cinder blocks.

“We’ll have to see what happens,” Darby said. “I don’t plan on leaving. I don’t know what they’re going to try.”

If sheriff’s deputies attempt to force him off the rural property, Darby said he would not fight their order with violence.

“I’m not going to do anything radical or anything,” he said. “I have no intention of anything like that.”

The minimum bid for the property, which is valued at $154,712, will be $22,823 -- or roughly the amount that Darby owes in unpaid taxes.

A Clark County Superior Court judge approved the auction last month as part of foreclosure proceedings.

County officials said the auction would end its dispute with Darby, who was part of a militia group’s attempt to form a new government entity in portions of Clark County.

The sheriff’s office said it would not immediately intervene if Darby refuses to leave the property, but would work to remove him by court order.

"Those are circumstances between the person who purchases the property at auction and the old owner," said county Treasurer Doug Lasher.

[Image: Auction via Shutterstock]