Mimesis Law
23 March 2017

Markeith Loyd: No Magic Spells in the Law

March 6, 2017 (Fault Lines)—Markeith Loyd of Orlando is accused of some pretty serious stuff:

Almost two months ago, Loyd was working at a fast-food restaurant and expecting a child with his girlfriend Sade Dixon, whom he is accused of shooting Dec. 13, police said.

[…]

On Jan. 9, police said, Loyd fatally shot Orlando police officer Debra Clayton as she tried to apprehend him outside a Walmart near the Pine Hills area west of Orlando.

Apparently, though, he’s got this all figured out.

“For the record, I want to state that I am Markeith Loyd,” Loyd told the judge. “Flesh and blood. I’m a human being. I’m not a fictitious person. I’m not a corporation.”

“And therefore, I am going to tell you the fact, I am in due court, I accept the charges’ value,” he added. “And I want to use my UCC (Uniform Commercial Code) financial statement, my number, to write these charges off.”

So exactly what the hell is he talking about? It hardly matters, but for the record:

[M]any sovereigns believe the U.S. government sells its citizens’ future earnings to foreign investors when they are born. Adherents often believe the funds are secretly kept by the U.S. Treasury in a secret trust that is only accessible to those who opt out of their “corporate” status, which splits them off from their flesh-and-blood self in the eyes of the government and keeps them subject to U.S. and international law[.]

“Opting out” of the jurisdiction of the government doesn’t seem to be working out for him. After all, he’s in jail, and was brought to court in shackles; and despite his attempt to “write off” his charges with the secret Treasury account, he’s still locked up. That’s a whole lot of jurisdiction right there.

Sovereign citizen hijinks are usually seen in the context of administrative and financial cases, involving people who refuse to pay their taxes (and then do stuff like file liens against IRS agents) or who drive without licenses and then claim that the fact they are sovereign citizens means they don’t need one.

For example, I once witnessed the following scene (names have been changed to protect the moronic):

JUDGE CLEVERBOOTS: Good morning, Mr. Crazypants. You are charged with one count of Driving Without a License. Since the maximum penalty is a fine, I cannot appoint the public defender to defend you, but you are free to retain counsel or represent yourself. How do you plead?

CRAZYPANTS: I am a sovereign citizen not subject to admiralty[1] jurisdiction. This court can offer me no remedy and I seek none.

JUDGE CLEVERBOOTS: Well, you can make any sort of argument you like at trial. Right now I just need to know if you plead guilty or not guilty.

CRAZYPANTS: I am a sovereign citizen not subject to admiralty jurisdiction. This court can offer me no remedy and I seek none.

OVERWORKED, UNDERPAID PUBLIC DEFENDER: (under his breath) Oh, for [expletive deleted]’s sake. Not this [different expletive deleted] again. I need to get back to the office.

JUDGE CLEVERBOOTS: Look, I understand what you’re saying, but this is only the arraignment, and right now all you need to do is plead guilty or not guilty.

CRAZYPANTS: I am a sovereign citizen not subject to admiralty jurisdiction. This court can offer me no remedy and I seek none.

JUDGE CLEVERBOOTS: OK, but here’s the problem. I need to make sure that you understand the charges against you. If I can’t determine that, I’ll have to order you into the custody of the Department of Mental Health for a 96-hour competency evaluation. [Pause]. So, how do you plead?

CRAZYPANTS: (startled—clearly, he didn’t see this coming) Um…ahh…umm…not guilty.

OVERWORKED, UNDERPAID PUBLIC DEFENDER: (a la Cartman) Sweet.

(The judge was bluffing. Probably.)

There’s an old saying: “Opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one and they’re all full of shit.” Judges are the exception, because their opinions are backed by men with guns who will see to it that they’re enforced. And showing up in court and saying “Haha, gotcha, Your Honor! You can’t lock me up because that flag has a gold fringe on it!” isn’t going to get you anywhere. You may even end up tased.

The specific details of the sovereign citizens’ delusions aren’t as interesting as the mindset underlying them. Those untrained in the law often believe that the practice of law is a sort of word game; a duel between wizards. All a litigant has to do is say the magic words and voila, case dismissed. Taxes are no longer owed, driver’s licenses are no longer required, and the murder charges go away. It doesn’t work that way.

[1] Don’t ask.

4 Comments on this post.

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  • Scott Jacobs
    6 March 2017 at 9:12 am - Reply

    I remain confused as to why courts don’t just replace their flags with ones that don’t have that gold fringe…

    • Peter Orlowicz
      6 March 2017 at 3:17 pm - Reply

      That wouldn’t solve the problem. The gold fringe/jurisdictional argument is frivolous. Making a change, even (or especially) a meaningless one, in response to a frivolous argument risks giving encouragement or credence to the proponents of the argument. It would almost certainly be used as evidence to support the rest of the crazy claims.

  • DaveL
    7 March 2017 at 3:43 pm - Reply

    I once had such a SC type argue with me that my state’s law giving police broad powers “to direct traffic on public highways by means of hand signals, etc.” meant “traffic” as in “commerce”, not the coming and going of travelers on the right of way. Apparently, the legislature never intended for police to direct the movement of vehicles, despite that being a frequently necessary function actually performed by police around the world since time out of mind. No, it decided that the police might need to direct the buying and selling at roadside fruit stands with hand signals, like the old school stock exchanges, a spectacle I have yet to witness in this or any other jurisdiction. Because to Sovereign citizens, laws are not measures devised by (presumably sane) human beings for specific purposes, but magic spells woven into the fabric of reality with no rhyme or reason fathomable to mortals.

  • Alex
    15 March 2017 at 2:15 pm - Reply

    The best legal discussion I’ve ever had with someone espousing Sovereign Citizen beliefs was pretty short and went something like this:

    [SC client] – (Specious argument about jurisdiction and why the case needed to be dismissed.)

    [Me] – Okay. But the judge and the cops disagree. And they have more guns than you. That’s why you’re in jail. So your case isn’t going to be dismissed for those reasons.

    [SC client] – Oh. Then what can I do?

    [Me] – Well, let me tell you how the law works in the eyes of the people with the guns…