Two men are accused of conspiring to file a false lien against the home of a Santa Barbara County judge, according to the Santa Barbara Independent.
Tom Murphy and Jeff Lind, who claim ties the anti-government “sovereign citizen” movement, have allegedly used the tactic of “paper terrorism” — a term used to describe the sovereign citizen’s typical pattern of false and fradulent court filings against individuals — to exact revenge on a judge for a series of legal repercussions the family faced after a relative’s arrest for a DUI:
The saga began when Lind, a marketing executive who lives in Orcutt and works in nearby San Luis Obispo, allegedly threatened a police officer who had arrested his son for driving under the influence. Lind was charged with witness intimidation and ordered to appear before Judge Kay Kuns. Claiming to not recognize the court’s authority over him, Lind — with help from Murphy, a dogged sovereign citizen crusader living in Los Osos at the time — loosed an avalanche of filings and paperwork claiming $77 million in damages against Kuns for “paper terrorism” meant to harass and frustrate court systems and county counsel offices and used to retaliate against what sovereign citizens perceive as governmental overreach.
Both Murphy and Lind’s arguments fly in the face of reason — the evidence points to their fraudulent lien filings as a carefully planned act of revenge, and nothing more. For example, prosecutors say Murphy and Lind tried to file the lien against Kuns’s home in hopes of to having a witness intimidation charge against Lind dismissed.
It’s difficult to seriously believe that the two sovereign citizens believe that the court has no jurisdiction over them. For one thing, using a method of extortion to get a charge dismissed shows that they believed the criminal charge was indeed serious and carried weight. In fact, in 2008, Lind pleaded guilty to a minor charge as part of a plea deal in the same court system. (If you don’t believe the law applies to you, and claim the courts are invalid, you probably aren’t going to cut deals with the state. ) Their intent all along, says Santa Barbara prosecutor Brian Cota, was simply to distract and deflect with “spurious gibberish.”
And if that’s the case, the pair definitely succeeded. Their filing and legal pleadings may be absurd, but the content was often frightening , containing at best veiled threats, and at worst, the makings of a domestic terror plot. The documents involved the names of government officials who they had never even encountered:
Cota also noted that the names of dozens of people with bare involvement in the case — from Sheriff Bill Brown to county administrative staffers — appear in filings and online postings created by the pair. Some of the documents are labeled with assault weapon models, and many contain veiled threats, Cota said. On Monday, Murphy and/or Lind distributed fake arrest warrants for Cota, DA Joyce Dudley, Supervisor Steve Lavagnino, and others. The warrants were issued by Murphy’s fabricated organization, the National Standards Enforcement Agency out of Missouri that purports to convene its own Grand Jury.
The deviant nature of the defendants has caused the courts to proceed with an abundance of precaution to minimize the potential for harm for all involved in proceedings. Judge Jean Dandona ruled that because of the pair’s “extraordinary history” of perceived harassment, jurors would be referred to not by name but by number, which is often an action only taken in high-profile gang cases and organized crime. Security at both the courtroom and at the DA offices has been tightened, and members of the court remain vigilant because many sovereign citizen cases have ended with the suspects erupting in violence.
Both Murphy and Lind face felony counts and maximum sentences of three years and eight months in prison. The trial will proceed early next week.