In U.S. v. Cartman, 2013 WL 2445158 (N.D.Ga. 2013), Judge Carnes tried and convicted a Defendant notwithstanding his assertion that he is a “sovereign citizen”. Unfortunately, we know more about these Sovereigns that we’d like to, but sometimes one needs – for a Brief or for explanation – a citation for what this is all about. Judge Carnes’ explained it:
In the Northern District of Georgia, a new practice has found its way into local jails where pretrial criminal defendants are being housed. At these facilities, some of the inmates have been introduced to a relatively new tactic apparently believed to be useful in trying to avoid a criminal conviction, or at least muddy the waters: a declaration of the defendant’s sovereign citizenship. At bottom, a sovereign citizen claims that a federal court has no jurisdiction to try the defendant for the federal crimes with which he is charged. The sovereign citizen purports to rely heavily on the Uniform Commercial Code (“UCC”), admiralty laws, and other commercial statutes to argue that, because he has made no contract with the Court, the Court can enforce no agreement upon him. The criminal code is apparently not one of the groups of statutes whose validity the defendant will acknowledge. ¶ The sovereign citizen typically files lots of rambling, verbose motions and, in court proceedings, will often refuse to respond coherently to even the simplest question posed by the Court. Each question by the judge is volleyed back with a question as to what is the judge’s claim and by what authority is the judge even asking a question. When referred to as the defendant or by his name, the defendant will frequently indicate that there is no proof that he is the defendant, but that instead he is a third-party intervenor. ¶ In proceedings, the observant sovereign citizen clings doggedly to the sovereign citizen script, which the record excerpts in this case reveal to be tedious and mind-numbingly repetitious. The colloquy with the court is often characterized by frequent interruptions by the defendant, who attempts to talk over the judge. For the most part, the defendant’s statements to the Court are gibberish. On the matter of legal represen-tation, the defendant will often refuse to cooperate with, or even speak to, his appointed counsel and will sometimes protest that he never authorized appoint-ment of counsel. Yet, when the Court attempts to engage the defendant to determine whether the latter wants new counsel or wants to represent himself, the non-responsive dialogue begins, with the defendant refusing to affirmatively indicate his waiver of counsel or to answer in any coherent way how he wishes to proceed or in any way that suggests the defendant would be willing to comport himself at a trial in a manner that would allow a trial to even proceed. ¶ Although there have been some moments in these proceedings after the trial began when this defendant has stepped out of his “sovereign citizen” persona to behave like an appropriately-functioning defendant, in the pretrial proceedings before this Court, he hewed largely to the above script.