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August 18, 2015 2

California Strengthens Laws Against “Paper Terrorism”

Cal­i­for­nia gov­er­nor Jerry Brown signed into law this past week a new mea­sure designed to increase pro­tec­tion for Cal­i­for­ni­ans from the so-called “paper ter­ror­ism” tac­tics of anti-government extremists.ab1267

Mem­bers of the anti-government sov­er­eign cit­i­zen move­ment often file bogus liens or other sim­i­lar doc­u­ments in order to encum­ber the prop­erty of their ene­mies in retal­i­a­tion for some per­ceived wrong­do­ing. Although fil­ing a bogus lien is a crime in Cal­i­for­nia, once such harass­ing liens are filed, it still takes sig­nif­i­cant time and money for vic­tims to get them removed—which is why they are so effec­tive as a retal­ia­tory tactic.

In the 1990s, Cal­i­for­nia enacted leg­is­la­tion to pro­vide a fast-track removal process for such bogus encum­brances. How­ever, the law only applied to pub­lic offi­cials or employ­ees, com­mon vic­tims of such sov­er­eign cit­i­zen tactics.

Now, thanks to Assem­bly­mem­ber Richard Bloom (D– Santa Mon­ica), who spon­sored the bill, California’s laws will extend fast track pro­tec­tion to pri­vate indi­vid­u­als and busi­nesses who are tar­gets of “paper terrorism.”

Addi­tion­ally, the new law will allow any­one tar­geted by a false encum­brance to seek civil reme­dies up to $5,000. With this leg­is­la­tion, Cal­i­for­nia joins the 25 other states that have passed sim­i­lar laws.

The Anti-Defamation League pro­posed and drafted the mea­sure and, early in the process, helped gain sup­port for it from a num­ber of orga­ni­za­tions, includ­ing the Cal­i­for­nia Dis­trict Attor­neys Asso­ci­a­tion and the Cal­i­for­nia Police Chiefs Association.

The bill received bi-partisan and unan­i­mous sup­port in both the Assem­bly and Senate.

Sov­er­eign cit­i­zens believe that gov­ern­ment has no author­ity over them because an insid­i­ous con­spir­acy infil­trated and replaced the orig­i­nal legit­i­mate gov­ern­ment with an ille­git­i­mate, tyran­ni­cal one. They claim to owe alle­giance only to the “orig­i­nal” gov­ern­ment. Con­se­quently, sov­er­eigns often claim that they are out­side the juris­dic­tion of the “ille­git­i­mate” gov­ern­ment and that they can ignore all laws and regulations.

In addi­tion to “paper ter­ror­ism” crimes, sov­er­eigns engage in other ille­gal activ­ity rang­ing from scams and frauds to deadly shootouts and standoffs.

The mort­gage cri­sis and the reces­sion of 2008 sparked a surge in the sov­er­eign cit­i­zen move­ment, who exploited the eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion to grow in num­bers and activ­ity. The Real Estate Fraud Pros­e­cu­tion Unit of the San Bernardino Dis­trict Attorney’s office, for exam­ple, has esti­mated that their cur­rent case load con­sists of 85% sov­er­eign cit­i­zen cases.

ADL tracks the activ­i­ties of the sov­er­eign cit­i­zen move­ment and has trained tens of thou­sands of law enforce­ment offi­cers, gov­ern­ment offi­cials, pros­e­cu­tors and judges about the movement’s ide­ol­ogy, activ­i­ties and ille­gal tac­tics, includ­ing ter­ror­ism and deadly violence.

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April 20, 2012 0

Georgia Passes Tougher Bogus Lien Law

A new mea­sure came into force in Geor­gia this week, when Gov­er­nor Nathan Deal signed into law HB 997, mak­ing it a felony to file bogus liens against pub­lic offi­cials and law enforce­ment offi­cers. The act amends the Geor­gia code to cre­ate a new crime, that of mak­ing false lien state­ments against pub­lic offi­cers or pub­lic employ­ees, and pro­vides a pun­ish­ment of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $10,000.
The bill had orig­i­nally been spon­sored by a group of Repub­li­can state rep­re­sen­ta­tives and received strong bipar­ti­san sup­port in both the Geor­gia House and Sen­ate. The aim of the bill was to help counter the grow­ing prob­lems caused by the sov­er­eign cit­i­zen move­ment, an extreme right-wing anti-government move­ment whose adher­ents believe that cur­rent gov­ern­ments are ille­git­i­mate and have no author­ity over them. Though the move­ment has existed since the 1970s, in the past few years it has expe­ri­enced a sur­pris­ing resur­gence, includ­ing a growth of vio­lent and crim­i­nal activity.

Por­tion of doc­u­ment filed by Robert Eugene Stephens
attempt­ing to copy­right his own name,
a com­mon sov­er­eign cit­i­zen tactic

Though the sov­er­eign cit­i­zen move­ment has a strong asso­ci­a­tion with vio­lence, it has an even stronger asso­ci­a­tion with what has come to be called “paper terrorism”—the use of bogus legal fil­ings or doc­u­ments or the mis­use of actual ones in order to harass, intim­i­date, or retal­i­ate against per­ceived enemies.

For 30 years, bogus liens have been one of the most pop­u­lar paper ter­ror­ism tac­tics, often used to harass police offi­cers, pros­e­cu­tors, offi­cials, and judges with whom sov­er­eign cit­i­zens come into con­tact. To give one recent Geor­gia exam­ple, in Octo­ber 2011 Geor­gia Bureau of Inves­ti­ga­tion agents arrested sov­er­eign cit­i­zen Robert Eugene Stephens of Min­eral Bluff on 12 crim­i­nal counts related to a series of bogus liens Stephens allegedly filed against a vari­ety of local and state offi­cials, includ­ing a county clerk, a local judge and her sec­re­tary, the county tax com­mis­sioner, and even the Speaker of the Geor­gia House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives (which prob­a­bly didn’t hurt the chance the sub­se­quent law had of passing).

A num­ber of states still don’t have bogus lien laws on their books, while the laws of other states make the crime only a mis­de­meanor and some states with bogus lien laws have been lax in enforc­ing them. The result has been a flood of bogus liens across the entire coun­try in the past sev­eral years.

The Geor­gia law could still be strength­ened fur­ther, as it does not pro­tect pri­vate cit­i­zens and busi­nesses, who also can be the vic­tim of bogus liens filed by sov­er­eign cit­i­zens.

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