It was a criminal case, and it’s difficult to do, but Judge D’Agostino in Muhammad v. Smith, 2014 WL 3670609 (N.D.N.Y. 2014) layed out the redeptionist/sovereign citizen movement about as succinctly as possible.
Plaintiff’s assertions appear to be based, at least in part, on the “redemptionist” theory or the related “sovereign citizen” theory, which are frivolous legal theories that have been consistently rejected by federal courts. See Monroe v. Beard, 536 F.3d 198, 203 n. 4 (3d Cir.2008). The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit explained: ““Redemptionist” theory … propounds that a person has a split personality: a real person and a fictional person called the “strawman.” The “strawman” purportedly came into being when the United States went off the gold standard in 193, and, instead, pledged the strawman of its citizens as collateral for the country’s national debt. Redemptionists claim that government has power only over the strawman and not over the live person, who remains free. Individuals can free themselves by filing UCC financing statements, thereby acquiring an interest in their strawman. Thereafter, the real person can demand that government officials pay enormous sums of money to use the strawman’s name or, in the case of prisoners, to keep him in custody. If government officials refuse, inmates are encouraged to file liens against correctional officers and other prison officials in order to extort their release from prison. Adherents of this scheme also advocate that inmates copyright their names to justify filing liens against officials using their names in public records such as indictments or court papers.” Id. (citation omitted). ¶ Plaintiff also apparently adheres to the Redemptionist theory regarding the use of capital letters: “Redemptionists claim that by a birth certificate, the government created strawmen out of its citizens. A person’s name spelled in English, that is with initial capital letters and small letters, represents the real person, that is, the flesh and blood person. Whenever a person’s name is written in total capitals, however, as it is on a birth certificate, the Redemptionists believe that only the strawman is referenced, and the flesh and blood person is not involved.” McLaughlin v. CitiMortgage, Inc., 726 F.Supp.2d 201, 210 (D.Conn.2010) (internal quotation marks omitted); see also Bryant v. Wash. Mut. Bank, 524 F.Supp.2d 753, 758–61 (W.D.Va.2007). ¶ Theories presented by redemptionist and sovereign citizen adherents have not only been rejected by the courts, but also recognized as frivolous and a waste of court resources. See McLaughlin v CitiMortgage, Inc., 726 F.Supp.2d at 210 (providing detailed explanation of the redemptionist theory and rejecting it); Charlotte v. Hanson, 433 Fed. Appx. 660, 661 (10th Cir.2011) (rejecting the sovereign citizen theory as having no conceivable validity in American law) (citation omitted). A prisoner’s attempt “to avoid the consequences of his criminal conviction” based on the redemptionist theory, has been recognized as “legally frivolous,” Ferguson—El v. Virginia, No. 3:10CV577, 2011 WL 3652327, *3 (E.D.Va. Aug.18, 2011), and civil cases based on redemptionist and sovereign citizen theories have been found to be “utterly frivolous” and “patently ludicrous,” using “tactics” that are “a waste of their time as well as the court’s time, which is paid for by hard-earned tax dollars.” Barber v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., No. 2:09cv40, 2010 WL 398915, *4 (W.D.N.C. Oct.7, 2009).