Avast, ye maties! Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day, and what better time to look in on that hornet’s nest of screaming crazy that is the pro se community? Not that all pro se litigants are crazy, but there is a subculture of citizens who love representing themselves. And representing themselves badly. Usually while airing their personal grievances with the government the whole time.
This peek at the pro se world focuses on a hot theory among pro se crazies: the outright denial of court jurisdiction over anything because courts can only exercise admiralty jurisdiction. Apparently the entire legal system — down to and including the maritime architecture of the courtroom and the fringe on the flags in the courtroom — is an elaborate ruse by the Gubment, in association with lawyers, to hoodwink people into consenting to admiralty jurisdiction.
They got us, guys.
Here’s some more color on the nature of this encroachment of maritime jurisdiction onto our soil. Land ho!
This all reminds me of that episode of the Simpsons in which Ned Flanders is called to jury duty and explains, “It’s a corker of a case. Seems a man drove up onto a traffic island and hit a decorative rowboat full of geraniums. Now they’re trying it as a maritime offense….”
Except these people are way more serious.
Or at least as serious as one can be when using a talking salamander as your avatar. What does the salamander say?
So you may be wondering why there’s a salamander lecturing you on the law. This is central to the bats**t theory at hand — that all courts in the country are admiralty courts creeping onto dry land. Like an amphibian. Get it?
If you don’t have time for the video from the folks at Sovereign Filing Solutions, here’s the crux of the argument: courts only have jurisdiction over two types of criminal claims, specifically common law and admiralty/military tribunals. According to the video, there can’t be common-law criminal claims because there’s no aggrieved party, and the “People” or “State” or “Commonwealth” don’t count because then the judge, as an employee of the state, has to recuse him/herself from the proceeding.
Slam. Dunk. I’m sure this works all the time.
As the video continues, Professor Geico Gecko tells us that statutes can never be the basis for a criminal action because… why? Apparently because the statutes aren’t in the Constitution? Or something? Note these folks actually charge people for their instructional videos.
I’m announcing my new company selling instructional videos teaching pro se litigants that courts have no jurisdiction over them because, I don’t know, something about the Freemasons maybe. Should work.
But this theory has more legs than one video out there. Here’s another doozy of a video complete with an intro by Morpheus.
This one goes all-in on conspiracy theories, blaming the Federal Reserve System (of course!) and the use of capital letters on birth certificates as the basis for admiralty law taking over the American legal system. So maybe Obama had it right in never having a birth certificate, eh?
The best theory comes at 6:51, where we learn that the existence of a bar between the audience and the parties exists to make the courtroom symbolically transform into the bridge of a ship, allowing the judge to act as a captain under admiralty law.
Other adherents to this theory go further, and explain how the fringe on the flag is proof that courts are secretly imposing admiralty law on us all:
Patriots are subjected to much ridicule when they object to [Admiralty flag] the flag that appears in every government office and courtroom in the land. That flag is the United States flag… with one seemingly minor cosmetic difference – a knotted golden fringe on three sides.
Government officials and judges adamantly refuse requests to remove the gold fringed flag and replace it with the constitutional flag of the United States as defined in 4 U.S.C. Section 1,2, and 3 – which has NO fringe.
Why should anyone be concerned about this apparently innocent decorative feature? What difference does it make?
The difference is that the flag that is displayed is legal notice, to all who enter, of the type of law that holds jurisdiction. The constitutional United States flag signifies common law jurisdiction.
The gold fringed United States flag is the Admiralty or War flag which denotes Admiralty or martial law.
And there’s a whole mess of crazies who agree. The federal courts have weighed in on this one already, but it hasn’t stopped folks:
Others have attempted to persuade the judiciary that fringe on an American flag denotes a court of admiralty. In light of the fact that this Court has such a flag in its courtroom, the issue is addressed. The concept behind the theory the proponent asserts is that if a courtroom is adorned with a flag which happens to be fringed around the edges, such decor indicates that the court is one of admiralty jurisdiction exclusively. To think that a fringed flag adorning the courtroom somehow limits this Court’s jurisdiction is frivolous. See Vella v. McCammon, 671 F.Supp. 1128, 1129 (S.D.Tex.1987) (describing petitioner’s claim that court lacked jurisdiction because flag was fringed as “without merit” and “totally frivolous”). Unfortunately for Defendant Greenstreet, decor is not a determinant for jurisdiction.
United States v. Greenstreet, 912 F. Supp. 224 (N.D. Tex. 1996).
So congrats, pro se tax-evading activists! Don’t let the continual set backs in court slow you down, keep hunting for that white whale.