Thursday, March 12, 2015

Judge Posner Confronts a Crackpot in a Tax Crimes Case (3/12/15)

Those who have paid close attention to my writings know that I like to cite Judge Posner of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, not because I always agree with him, but he is, shall we say, interesting and, when he speaks, he at least says it well.  The Federal Tax Crimes Blog entries mentioning Judge Posner are here; the Federal Tax Procedure Blog entries mentioning Judge Posner are here.

Judge Posner sometimes sits as a trial judge.  He is currently sitting as a trial judge in United States v. Hakeem El Bey (ND Ill. 14 CR 447).  The defendant was indicted for defrauding and attempting to defraud the Internal Revenue Service in violation of Title 18 of the federal code."  On February 15, 2015, Judge Posner entered a pre-trial order, here, admonishing the defendant to restrain himself from making a melange of worn out tax protestor/defier/denier-style arguments.

Above the Law has an entertaining blog, here, on the Judge Posner's Order, noting (as observers know):  "The point is, Judge Posner entertains."  Here are some excerpts from the Above the Law presentation (which add flavor to, if not enlightenment) the Order:
Judge Posner landed himself the trial of a pro se so-called “sovereign citizen.” You know, those bats**t looneys who think FEMA is going to build concentration camps as part of the War on Christmas or that the whole judicial system is an elaborately disguised admiralty court (because there’s fringe on American flags or something). Imagine Judge Posner having to deal with this guy. 
* * * * 
[In a previous order] El Bey got his slap on the wrist, but a good crackpot theory doesn’t go down that easy.  He fired right back with a couple of motions flouting the earlier order and Judge Posner is irked: 
He also asserts “Lack of Jurisdiction over the Person (contracted Artificial Subject vs Natural Borne)” — whatever that means. He also asserts that “Queen of England, entered into a Treaty with the Federal Government For the Taxing of Alcoholic beverages and cigarettes sold in America. The Treaty is called—The Stamp Act and in this Act, the Queen ordained that her Subject, the American people, are Exonerated of all other Federal Taxes. So the Federal Income Tax and the State Income Taxes Levied against all Americans is Contrary to an International Treaty and against the Sovereign Orders of the Queen.”
And so forth.

One comment, though.  In the order, Judge Posner says that the defendant "indicted by the federal government."  The grand jury brought the indictment.  I suppose that the grand jury is part of the federal government.  But the grand jury occupies a unique role in the system, so I prefer saying that the grand jury indicted.  See United States v. Williams, 504 U.S. 36, 47 (1992). here, for good discussion of the grand jury, including (citations omitted):
Rooted in long centuries of Anglo-American history, the grand jury is mentioned in the Bill of Rights, but not in the body of the Constitution. It has not been textually assigned, therefore, to any of the branches described in the first three Articles. It is a constitutional fixture in its own right. In fact the whole theory of its function is that it belongs to no branch of the institutional Government, serving as a kind of buffer or referee between the Government and the people.  Although the grand jury normally operates, of course, in the courthouse and under judicial auspices, its institutional relationship with the Judicial Branch has traditionally been, so to speak, at arm’s length. Judges’ direct involvement in the functioning of the grand jury has generally been confined to the constitutive one of calling the grand jurors together and administering their oaths of office.


  1. In other Swiss bank news, it appears that France will be prosecuting HSBC Switzerland:

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