Litigants reject court authority



Alberta's courts should take steps to combat growing abuse of the legal system by "vexatious litigants" who reject state and court authority, a top Court of Queen's Bench justice says.Judge

In a decision issued in response to a June 8, 2012, divorce case involving a self-declared "freeman on the land," Court of Queen's Bench Associate Chief Justice John Rooke analyzes what he calls "organized pseudolegal commercial argument," or OPCA, litigants. His 185-page analysis of their arguments and legal implausibility was posted on the Alberta Justice court website on T hursday .

OPCA litigants typically follow "gurus" who promote and sell techniques to unlock secret accounts and evade traffic tickets, support payments or taxes by undermining governments, corporations and individuals, Rooke says. Although many rely on spurious name variants and titles, the individuals often identify themselves as Detaxers, Freemen, Sovereign Citizens, Moorish Law, or part of the Edmonton-based Church of the Ecumenical Redemption International.

Since their emergence in Canada in the 1990s, no court has ever accepted an OPCA concept or approach, Rooke notes. Nevertheless, OPCA arguments have been tried at all levels of court proceedings, by poor and wealthy individuals of various ages, religions and education levels.

Even celebrities have tried and failed, Rooke notes, most famously actor Wesley Snipes, currently imprisoned in the United States for tax evasion.

Rooke's decision centres around Dennis Larry Meads, whom the judge called an "ideal type specimen," currently in divorce proceedings initiated in early 2011. Since then, Meads has filed numerous "unusual documents," several with red thumbprints and signed by ": : : dennis-larry: : of the meads-family: : : ." In one such document, Meads declared himself as "postmaster general" and attempts to assign liability to a Court of Queen's Bench clerk.

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The lawyer for Meads' spouse told Rooke that although he generally paid court-ordered spousal support, Meads held up the divorce with unorthodox documents and a refusal to disclose his financial records.

In Edmonton court on June 8, 2012, Meads declared he was "a child of the almighty God Jehovah, and not a child of the state," present as a "flesh and blood man" but not a "corporate identity." His ex-wife had already taken "the bulk of his silver bullion" and $250,000 from a joint bank account, Mead argued, and all payments should come instead from vast amounts of money owed him for his corporate identity, bonded and registered in the Bank of Canada at his birth.

"I do not want to be enticed into slavery, sir," Meads told Rooke. "She contacts me, her other lawyer contacted me, they are enticing me into contract. And I do not want to go there. I just want to be left alone. Give me a divorce."

When Rooke explained property division, spousal support and obligations, Meads asked about the Royal Coat of Arms of Canada on the walls behind the judge, which includes the Latin expression, "From sea to sea."

"This is an admiral court; your jurisdiction is on water, it's not on land," Meads told Rooke. "I am a freeman on the land."

Rooke explained contempt of court laws and Meads' options, including jail for non-compliance. Meads accused Rooke of enticing him into slavery, saying he was free from the "mumbo jumbo that is law." After rejecting the court's authority, he got up and left. Later that month, he served the judge with several documents assigning obligations to Rooke, along with a dozen other documents, one of which asserts Meads' name requires a per-use fee of $100 million.

Rooke dismisses Meads' arguments as "bluntly idiotic" nonsense, rejecting his unilateral assignments of liability and attempts to separate himself, his assets and liabilities into two legal aspects. "Mr. Meads is Mr. Meads in all his physical or imaginary aspects," Rooke writes.

Contrary to his assertions, Rooke says Meads isn't owed the "modest award" of $100 billion relating to his birth documents. And while Rooke could "potentially address admiralty law matters," it is not the Court of Queen's Bench sole jurisdiction; litigation of that kind is "not exactly a common occurrence" in landlocked Alberta. Many OPCA litigants attempt to reject a court's authority, a strategy Rooke says is virtually guaranteed to fail since provincial superior court powers are broad and adaptive.

An examination of the documents filed by Meads suggest they come from a "pre-fab" kit likely bought from an American "guru," the judge says.

Rooke's analysis is intended to provide a framework for lawyers and judges who encounter OPCA tactics. But he also hopes to warn possible litigants against people peddling "Byzantine schemes which more closely resemble the plot of a dark fantasy novel than anything else." The "gurus" aren't worth billions and their arguments don't work in court, Rooke writes. Near the end of the document, Rooke addresses gurus directly.

"You cannot identify one instance where a court has rolled over and behaved as told. Not one. Your spells, when cast, fail."