Judge Richard Posner of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago is probably wondering who precisely it was he angered to have been assigned a case such as this but he’s sure as hell not going to put up with any guff from the defendant.
Though he is an appeals judge with 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Posner is often moved to volunteer to preside over trials (it’s been said that this is precisely the kind of thing he enjoys doing) and Posner now is presiding over the case of Hakeem El Bey who is accused of defrauding the IRS.
In an order issued last Friday, Posner warned El Bey that he won’t be allowed to represent himself in court at his March 2 trial if he continues to put forward “utterly irrelevant, patently inaccurate and sometimes unintelligible contentions into this case.”
Judge Posner has also taken the extraordinary step of appointing a stand-by counsel for El Bey, who despite his arguments, “strikes me as an intelligent person and he has been unfailingly polite in pretrial conferences.”
El Bey, a self-described sovereign citizen, has made repeated attempts to introduced testimony irrelevant to his case (as is the wont of sovereign citizens having to stand in court of law before a judge) – such irrelevant testimony including that the court “lacks jurisdiction over him because he is a ‘sovereign citizen’ or a citizen of the Cherokee nation, that the U.S. Government is a corporation or insolvent, or that the Internal Revenue Service has been dismantled.”
Judge Posner previously warned El Bey both in person and in an February 12 order that he shouldn’t try to introduce argument or testimony about the Uniform Commercial Code, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, admiralty and maritime law, or the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act as these arguments, Posner has written, are “totally irrelevant to this criminal prosecution.”
Despite these warnings, El Bey continues to make additional irrelevant arguments. New court filings from El Bey seek $367,500 in damages from the U.S. Government for “redemption”. El Bey has also claimed that the Stamp Act treaty with the queen of England had imposed taxes on alcohol and cigarettes but that the Act “exonerated” Americans of the need to pay any other taxes.
Posner was quick to point out historical inaccuracies in El Bey’s filing.
“The Stamp Act was enacted by the Parliament of Great Britain in 1765. It did not relieve Americans of any taxes; on the contrary, it imposed a comprehensive tax on the use of paper by Americans. The Act was not a treaty between Britain and the federal government of the United States, for there was no United States; there were just the 13 British colonies that 11 years later declared independence from Great Britain. There were no federal taxes that the act could have relieved Americans from having to pay. The sovereign of Britain at the time was a king, not a queen; the king’s wife (Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz) was Great Britain’s queen but had no governmental authority.”
Sovereign citizens are a loose group of American litigants, tax protestors and financial scheme promoters who take the position that they are answerable to their interpretation of the common law and not subject to any statutes from federal, state or municipal levels.
They also don’t recognize United States currency as legitimate, are free of any legal constraints and believe that the United States government is illegitimate.
The FBI has classified some sovereign citizens as a domestic terrorist group while a 2014 report by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism stated that a survey of law-enforcement officials and agencies across the country concluded that the sovereign citizens were the single greatest threat to their communities, ranking above Islamic terrorists.