Friday, October 28, 2011

Stranger than Fiction, Volume III: The "Sovereign Man"

I had never heard of this concept before, until reading about it in a recent decision by Justice Brown.  Apparently, some folks have taken to believing that they can simply refuse to recognize the authority of the domestic government and live as a "sovereign man".  They claim that there's a legal logic to it, namely that they can separate into two separate entities - the "juristic person/strawman/legal entity", and the "flesh and blood living man" - and so while the state may have authority over the legal entity, the flesh and blood person can't be held to account for actions of the legal entity.  It sounds almost like a bizarre extrapolation of the corporate veil.  I don't fully understand the whole farce - I suspect because it doesn't actually make sense - but somehow the birth certificate is supposed to be integral to the creation of the legal person.

The recent decision was in MBNA Canada Bank v. Luciani, in which Luciani registered a financing statement under the PPSA purporting to secure a $28 million interest owed to him by the bank.  The bank demanded that he remove it, and he said that he would only if the bank advanced him and his wife a $125,000 line of credit.  "A good old-fashioned shakedown", as Justice Brown called it.  Suffice it to say that the PPSA registration was ordered discharge, with the rare measure of full indemnity costs being awarded to the bank.

The previous decision was in Mercedes-Benz Financial (DCFS Canada Corp) v. Kovacevic (sentencing decision here), and this case involved a fellow who had signed a contract with himself by which the legal himself took on all of the flesh and blood himself's debts, with the result that the flesh and blood self could continue to drive around a financed Mercedes notwithstanding the fact that the legal self hadn't bothered to pay for it.  Even after a Court ordered the return of the car.  Justice Brown found him in contempt of Court and sentenced him to five days in prison.  The car was returned.

It's a hoax, really, similar to the "income taxes are unconstitutional" argument that started in the States and spread to Canada, involving people who come together trying to find a way to justify their desire not to pay taxes, who come up with some constitutional interpretation they think is clever (usually ignoring significant parts of the constitution, and always ignoring the bulk of constitutional jurisprudence), and they enter into a cycle of self-affirmation, in which like-minded people will continue to tell each other that they're right, until they become so confident of the absolute and unchallengeable correctness of their position that they are puzzled and baffled and convinced that there is a conspiracy against them when the authorities, including the Courts, tell them that they're wrong.

I googled "sovereign man" and found a video of a man in a Guelph a first sidebar, note that videotaping court proceedings in Canada is a serious offence...being quite elusive as to his identity (not unlike what Justice Brown described in Kovacevic), nearly getting kicked out of the courtroom before he handed up his birth certificate.  The JP called for a short recess, and left the courtroom, whereupon the 'sovereign man' declared that, as the "judge" had abandoned the court, he was now in charge of the courtroom, and he purported to dismiss the case.  And left.  Further research indicates that he was charged with by-law violations as a consequence of parking his car on his lawn.  The trial continued without him and he was fined $260.  Not to mention the investigation into the video.  I'm surprised he didn't end up being held in contempt himself.

Yet, most of the references to this case on the internet are positive, applauding him and interpreting the video very strangely, suggesting that the JP's departure somehow implied that he had conquered the courtroom and won the day.

I don't expect any of my usual readers will need any such clarification, but let's be clear anyways:  The "Sovereign Man" scheme does not work in Canada.  It does not get people out of having to comply with the law, having to pay just debts, or having to be held to account for their actions.  The fact that anyone believes otherwise is a testament to the down side of the internet - it is an amazing tool for information, but equally powerful for spreading misinformation as well.

This blog is not intended to and does not provide legal advice to any person in respect of any particular legal issue, and does not create a solicitor-client relationship with any readers, but rather provides general legal information. If you have a legal issue or possible legal issue, contact a lawyer.

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