Constitutional Law

Drunk as a Sovereign Lord

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An accused Pennsylvania drunk driver brings to bear an obscure bit of technicalitarian "legal" mumbo-jumbo to explain that the state of Pennsylvania holds no authority over him, as he's a "sovereign citizen."

From the Morning Call's account:

An Allen Township man accused of driving drunk wore a Coors Light sweatshirt to court today and offered a novel defense.

The law doesn't apply to him, Scott A. Witmer said, because he is a "sovereign man."

"It means I live inside myself," Witmer, 44, told a curious Northampton County Judge Leonard Zito. "I don't live in the state of Pennsylvania."

Witmer was arrested by state police early Aug. 24 after he allegedly drove drunk from his 1309 Adams St. home after troopers responded to a domestic violence call. Police also charged him with several summary offenses and said he did not have insurance for his vehicle, lacked valid license plates, and was driving on a revoked license.

Accompanying Witmer's legal position was a 20-page motion he submitted in December in which he insisted the charges against him were unconstitutional. In the filing, he served notice on the court that to rule otherwise would be a "blatant act of TYRANNY," and akin to "committing acts of treason, usurpation and tyranny."

A somewhat neutral exposition on sovereign citizen ideas.

A rather upset and disapproving one.

A sovereign citizen speaks for himself.

Sovereign citizens drive cops crazy.

As an essentially anarchist ideology, I can't help but applaud the idea; as a legal strategy in the courts of the tyrannous U.S. of Archie, it's a non-starter, as Mr. Witmer will doubtless find.

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  1. Could have just called this post: “Man Convicted Of Drunk Driving.”

  2. Is he one of those crazies who thinks the government should not exist and tell people what they can do?

  3. I was really expecting the fringe on the flag defense somewhere in that story.

  4. It’s called the King Charles I defense.

    It hasn’t worked yet, which means that its due man, it’s due!

  5. “In terms of morals there is no such thing as a ‘state.’ Just men. Individuals. Each responsible for his own acts. I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free, because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything that I do.”

  6. Anyone got any dead horses I could beat? Any jokes I could strangle hours past death? How about a bit I could maintain long after it stopped being entertaining to anyone but myself?

    Anyone?

  7. “Be wary of strong drink. It can make you shoot at tax collectors… and miss. “

  8. I came here thinking there’d be some references to Lysander Spooner.
    I’m leaving disappointed.

  9. How come instead of a philosopher, I just see a worthless piece of shit?

  10. As an essentially anarchist ideology, I can’t help but applaud the idea; as a legal strategy in the courts of the tyrannous U.S. of Archie, it’s a non-starter, as Mr. Witmer will doubtless find.

    Darn…for a moment there was a ray of sunlight and I thought I might have found a useable defense for my traffic court appearance tomorrow. Thanks for dashing my hopes.

    Regardless, one of two scenarios is true: that guy is either a genius or else was possibly drunk in court.

  11. “But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain – that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist.”

  12. I like the ADL piece. Yet more evidence that the ADL has outlived its usefulness and truly has nothing better to do.

  13. And when this guy is getting raped in prison, the guards will just say his rectum is outside their jurisdiction.

  14. If dudes in prison were allowed to marry, there would be a lot less prison rape, crimethink. You should ponder that.

  15. This guy is about to learn that He has committed an act of aggression and the state of Pennsylvania is going to war on his ass.

  16. Whatever, I’m too occupied reviewing the latest swimsuits.

  17. Time to send in the Jack Bauer Brigade!

    I can see it now…

    Jack yells: “I do not negotiate with secessionists! Damn it!” as he dunks Witmer’s head into a port-a-potty.

  18. Commonwealth you yahoos, commonwealth. PA is not a state.

  19. And when this guy is getting raped in prison, the guards will just say his rectum is outside their jurisdiction.

    I guess that would be a case of both parties “turning the other cheek.”

  20. Wait a minute…..

    “Accompanying Witmer’s legal position was a 20-page motion he submitted in December in which he insisted the charges against him were unconstitutional.”

    How can you claim to be a “sovereign citizen” then turn around and claim a constitutional protection from an entity you just claimed had no jurisdiction?

  21. Dude, Where the fuck is Gary when you need him? Maybe in jail?

  22. How can you claim to be a “sovereign citizen” then turn around and claim a constitutional protection from an entity you just claimed had no jurisdiction?

    It’s called alternative pleading. Just like when someone says “I wasn’t at the scene of the crime, but if I was I didn’t kill him, but if I did it was in self defense.”

  23. From the ADL profile: “More adventurous types can matriculate at ‘schools’ such as the Erwin Rommel School of Law…”

    I’ll bet that’s a hoot. I’m not sure what the legendary Generalfeldmarschall has to do with the practice of law, but whatever…

  24. “Whatever, I’m too occupied reviewing the latest swimsuits.”

    Speedos?

  25. Commonwealth you yahoos, commonwealth. PA is not a state.

    Oops! As all good sovereign citizens know you don’t use the USPS abbreviations. By doing that you lose your sovereignty and subject yourself to Federal authority.

    All free men know to use Pa., or even better, Penna.

  26. If he’s a sovereign entity, doe that make the domestic violence charge an act of war?

  27. At least he doesn’t carry around a nuclear bomb that’s wired to go off if he dies. Or anyway, they don’t mention one in the article.

  28. Xeones,

    I am not getting the Snowcrash connection.

  29. And you cannot hug your children with nuclear arms.

  30. TofuSushi | March 11, 2009, 2:28pm | #

    And you cannot hug your children with nuclear arms.

    Either excellent parody, or excellent self parody.

  31. domoarrigato, I am the “you cannot hug your children with nuclear arms” guy of this board.

  32. Interesting that this showed up in the latest NYRB by Daniel Mendelsohn reviewing a novel about a man who had gone outside of the bounds of civilization, becoming ‘free’ in the same sense that this guy wants.

    “Yet this freedom is not yet complete. One is not free if one is the only one free, for the fact of freedom is linked to the revelation of existence in the world. Orestes must then not only destroy the law of remorse for himself, but he must abolish it for others and through the unique manifestation of his freedom establish an order from which inner reprisals and the legions of terrifying justice have disappeared.”

    and, yeah, the protagonist of the novel. . . well, this thread was almost over any way.

  33. The judge should instantly agree that the man is sovereign and, as his actions showed depraved indifference towards american citizens on whose soil he was invading, Pennsylvania is declaring war on him.

  34. I was really expecting the fringe on the flag defense somewhere in that story.

    What’s that?

  35. Thanks to my Asperger’s, I do indeed live inside myself. Does that make me a sovereign entity?

  36. ‘Fu: The guy in Snow Crash was a sovereign, ie equivalent to a nation and presumably because of his nuke.

    IANAL, but in the real world both state and national governments are sovereigns, thus Muhammad and Malvo could be tried twice for each criminal act – by both state and national governments.

  37. I am also independent, as I have my head inside of my butt. Thus, I live inside of myself.

  38. Maybe John Yoo is available to represent him. 😉

  39. Lefiti, I thought you lived in Greater Douchebagland.

  40. I commented on this story over at Fr33 Agents, but I discussed the Szaszian implications of the judge’s reaction to the defense more than the validity of the defense itself: http://fr33agents.com/more-from-the-sovereign-movement/#disqus_thread

  41. What’s that?

    The “Admiralty Flag” argument (most often used in tax protester cases) is that since the flag in the courtroom (often) has a gold fringe, it is an “Admiralty” Court (and/or a court operating under martial law) and thus has no jurisdiction of any citizen of a soveriegn state. (see also here for an example.)

  42. Tonio:

    I was really expecting the fringe on the flag defense somewhere in that story.

    What’s that?

    The quick and stupid

  43. Well, their laws don’t apply to him…as long as he kills enough of them.

  44. If Bush was still prez he would be justified in liberating this man from his own tyranny and, y’know, drunkeness.

  45. If dudes in prison were allowed to marry, there would be a lot less prison rape, crimethink.

    Episiarch, I think better of homosexuals than to compare their relationships to the “consensual” (but usually desperate and mildly coercive) sexual arrangements that go on in prison. Don’t worry, though, there are a lot of people who pubicly push for gay privilege while secretly hating them deep down.

  46. His human rights record is atrocious. He has a record of abusing and sexually humiliating himself.
    He has ilegally used untarriffed US funds to purchase alcohol, buy a car, and drive on our streets.
    He has a history of violence.
    His wholesale lack of documentation is inexcusable.

    we’ve bombed the shit out of countries for lesser offenses.
    And even the Duchy of Fenwick didn’t wear a Coors t-shirt.

  47. I hear a lot of “that’s crazy” but no rejoinders, which ends up sounding like “because I said so.” Can anyone clue me in on why it’s crazy beyond the obvious “because they say so”?

  48. Well, Brock, I’d posit that pulling his stunt would be legally no different from a US citizen whipping his dick out on the streets of Suadi Arabia and claiming he is immune from the law. Sovereignty and foreign citizenry would not exclude you from consequences of actions on foreign soil.
    Claiming he is not part of the legal system as a defense for a potentially life threatening act is a pretty big leap of logic.

  49. Well, sir, you may live inside yourself in a certain metaphysical sense, but your drunken-assed self was existing within the borders of Pennsylvania apparently putting other people’s selves in mortal danger.

    Now shut up and take your punishment.

  50. Yes, the gold fringe thing is stupid as an argument. I can’t believe that anybody is so dumb as to actually bring that up in court, as though they think that if they show that they have the TRUE KNOWLEDGE! the court will bow down before them and admit everything.

    However, it’s interesting to note that all the military service flags have gold fringe, the Presidential flag has a fringe (the POTUS being the Commander in Chief), the Vice Presidential flag has no fringe, the SecDef’s flag has no fringe (he’s a civilian, despite being a defense official)…and yet the official story is that the gold fringe has no meaning at all, absolutely none, it’s just decoration. Funny that only military people and organizations get it, then…

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