Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Second Circuit Opines that Tax Protestor/Defier Arguments for Lack of Criminal Jurisdiction are Bogus (1/1/20)

In United States v. McLaughlin (2d Cir. Dkt 19-308-cr Opinion 12/30/19), here, McLaughlin was convicted of making false statements to IRS (presumably the charge was tax obstruction, § 7212(a)) by submitting false documents intended to have the IRS audit and assess penalties against a state judge.  McLaughlin appealed, claiming that the district court did not have jurisdiction, a genre of tax protestor/defier argument “consistent with a ‘Sovereign Citizen’ ideology.”

Courts are confronted with this genre of argument often and routinely bat them down.  So, why did the Second Circuit, which often issues summary orders in routine and frivolous cases, decide to issue a full opinion?  The Court says:
McLaughlin’s argument here goes to the very heart of our authority to hear Federal criminal cases. It raises an issue that warrants a clear statement from this Court, to deter future litigants from making similar claims.    
The bottom line, as readers of this blog would expect, that the Second Circuit holds that the district court had jurisdiction.

Short opinion.

JAT Comment:

Maybe the opinion will circulate in the communities of taxpayers to whom it is targeted.  But, I doubt that, if any are deterred by the opinion, it won’t be many and members of these communities will continue to undertake the underlying behavior resulting in their prosecution where their only or, at least, preferred "defense" is this genre of argument.

The opinion will give district court judges additional reason to summarily dispose of similar arguments.

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