Tuesday, January 26, 2016

When the Curiously Quirky Meet the Seriously Unhinged

By Bob Ferris


“This Complaint is part of a troublesome trend, whereby citizens purporting to act as "common law grand juries" file frivolous or non-cognizable complaints in federal court. These frivolous and patently misleading filings burden the judiciary and hinder its ability to administer justice in truly meritorious cases.” Marcia Morales Howard, District Judge commenting on Joaquin Mariano DeMoreta-Folch, Complainant, v. Manny J. Rodriguez, et al., Defendants 
Whenever I approach something my first inclination is to try to understand it.  So when I was reading about the Bundy Brigade’s "common law grand jury" calling in Joaquin Mariano DeMoreta-Folch, I thought that I would get to know him and see what he is about.  I watched the above video of a seemingly gentle fellow praising the wonderful nature of the US Constitution.  Nice.  He was a little confused about amendment numbers, cherry-picked some interesting messaging, and oversold personal empowerment, but one did not a sense danger or menace from him.
“Upon review of the Complaint, the Court is convinced that DeMoreta-Folch could not state a cognizable claim for relief even if the Court gave him leave to amend, and therefore granting such leave would be futile.” Marcia Morales Howard, District Judge commenting in Joaquin Mariano DeMoreta-Folch, Complainant, v. Manny J. Rodriguez, et al., Defendants 
Digging deeper I found he has a lot in common with tea cup poodles or Chihuahuas in that the world seems very big and scary around him therefore he always has to be on his guard from peril which means his life is pretty full of what I would call reflex barking, but in a legal sense.  One gets an idea of this when looking at his legal fillings and the responses from judges like at the top and above. One judge even took the extraordinary step of putting a note advising staff to no longer accept complaints from Mr. DeMoreta-Folch unless those documents were signed by an attorney.

From docket notes of St. Johns County Circuit Court Judge J. Michael Traynor in 2010
But this "censorship" and condemnation is not limited to the courts, it also seems to extend to others in the “common law grand jury” club like the National Liberty Alliance (NLA) that felt compelled to make sure that the world knew that Mr. DeMoreta-Folch was not connected with their organization which they were clear was not part of the so-called “sovereignty” movement.  The NLA also let folks know on their website that they were not the people who tore up driver’s licenses, birth certificates and other forms of identification.
“The purpose of this disclaimer is to deny any connection with Mr. Joaquin Mariano DeMoreta-Folch, who titles himself a God Grace Administrator, concerning his filing of papers in Sheridan County, Nebraska and any other papers he may have filed in other states/counties.” National Liberty Alliance statement.
The NLA does, however, share the belief with Mr. DeMoreta-Folch that Justice Scalia’s comments in United States v. Williams, 504 US 36 (1992) that described the independent nature of the federal grand juries, in their minds, essentially established a fourth branch of federal government.  Their belief is that this opened a door to citizens impaneling their own grand juries because we all got that right via the Magna Carta.  Whew.

"A panel of citizens that is convened by a court to decide whether it is appropriate for the government to indict (proceed with a prosecution against) someone suspected of a crime." Definition of Grand Jury
Now I love the Magna Carta—great and meaningful document—but every commentary I have ever read about modern day grand juries indicates that they are called by the courts (i.e., an existing branch of the federal government).  Moreover, when one looks at the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, Title III, Rule 6 (a) (1) we see the below wording. None of this leads a prudent person to believe that they can willy-nilly convene one of these bodies and believe that the results will be a meaningful or happy experience.
"In General. When the public interest so requires, the court must order that one or more grand juries be summoned. A grand jury must have 16 to 23 members, and the court must order that enough legally qualified persons be summoned to meet this requirement."
All of the above is still in the quirky range with participants giving themselves grand titles and getting official looking seals at Staples with which to emboss their "official," but incoherent documents.  If you are looking for an image think of it as legal "cosplay" an outlet for the paranoid and overly imaginative to carve a niche for themselves.  Not much different than Civil War reenactors or those who gravitate towards chainmail and armor.  Weird and sometimes annoying, but the world has worse problems.

Both of the above from DeMoreta-Folch filing in Nebraska

My wife and I were watching a movie the other night where one of the characters morphed from reasonable to dastardly and dangerous.  She described the newly formed villain as unhinged—essentially an event in his life had knocked him off his hinges.  Herein is the problem because when the quirky hits the unhinged like we are seeing in Oregon where folks actually believe there is a “fourth branch” of government and feel compelled to act on it we have serious problems as we can see below.

This video is disturbing but that is really the point.  Because this is the reality of what the Bundys have dropped on Harney County.  This is what we see when inflammatory and false rhetoric hits minds made mushy by life’s travels.   The scent of violence and lawlessness draws violent and lawless people which has created a powder keg which damages people whether it blows up or not.

In recent weeks I have talked to many folks about this situation and quite a few have commented about feeling great empathy for those having to regularly deal with the unhinged of the world—particularly peace officers and those working on federal lands who are routinely threatened, abused and vilified.  In this regard, I would ask those thumbing through their Pocket Constitutions looking for the Property Clause they so obviously missed to also show me where the US Constitution grants them the right to treat fellow citizens regardless of their employers like pond scum.

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