A fugitive people within a nation is tyranny.

Posts tagged ‘criminal’

Maryland, Prison & Unrealistic Child Support

As lawmakers meet in Annapolis this month to examine possible reforms to the state’s criminal justice system, we hope they will take a hard look at a related issue as well: The plight of inmates who fall behind on their court-ordered child-support payments, which continue to accumulate while they’re behind bars and which leave them with crushing debts they cannot possibly pay off when they are eventually released. [“American Poverty: An American Criminal Subclass“}

That’s because inmates who are ordered by the courts to make child support payments that seem reasonable when they’re working lose those incomes — but not their obligation to pay — while they are incarcerated. The amounts in arrears can climb into the tens of thousands of dollars, and because these convicts emerge from prison saddled with a criminal record, it can be difficult, if not impossible, for them to find a job that allows them to pay off what they owe. All too easily, their involvement with the state’s child-support enforcement authorities can leave them with a lifetime of indebtedness.

The consequences for them and their children can be devastating. Sixty-five percent of the inmates in Maryland’s prisons are parents, and most of them want to participate in some way in their children’s upbringing. When they can’t, it’s likely to not only alienate them from their partners and children but also to compound the problems they face finding a job, getting an education and avoiding returning to a life of crime.

Some inmates come out of prison so overwhelmed by accumulated debt and shamed by their inability to pay that they are actually discouraged from contacting their families. Others feel the only way to meet their obligations is by selling the drugs that got them incarcerated in the first place. Both are inimical to policies aimed at enlisting the support of families in the re-entry process.

The federal government and some states, including Maryland, have explored pilot re-entry programs that match up newly released inmates with service providers, such as the Center for Urban Families in Baltimore, that offer temporary housing as well as job training and employment counseling. But such programs are small compared to the need. States must begin focusing on preparing incarcerated parents for release earlier and helping them navigate child-support issues so they don’t emerge from prison thousands of dollars in arrears with little prospect of ever paying such sums off.

In Maryland, custodial parents are entitled to collect child support even when the non-custodial parent is incarcerated. If an inmate can’t pay, and if the family is eligible for public assistance, the state pays an equivalent amount to the custodial parent, then seeks to recover the funds upon the incarcerated parent’s release.

Under a law passed in 2012, state authorities can temporarily reduce or suspend inmates’ financial obligations while they’re in prison. But they can’t alter the terms of a child support order issued by the courts to reflect an inmate’s reduced earning capacity while locked up, nor can they forgive accumulated debt that is owed directly to a custodial parent rather than to the state. [“Unemployment, Child Support & Bradley Law“; “Bradley Law and Real Justice“; “The Bradley Amendment Child Support Mess“; “New Legal Research Available on Bradley Amendment“]

Nevertheless, Maryland could significantly ease inmates’ re-entry into society if its laws allowed child support officials to modify child support orders to reflect inmates’ actual earning power on release. The state already has a debt abatement program that allows inmates have their cumulative debt reduced by half if they make their support payments on time for 12 straight months; if they continue doing so for 12 more months the state can forgive entire amount remaining in arrears.

That represents progress, but it doesn’t take into account the fact that most recently incarcerated parents still won’t earn enough to make regular payments at the same level that was set based on their earning power before they went to prison. So they fall behind on their payments again and the vicious cycle of debt accumulation resumes.

Lawmakers could address this problem by authorizing The Department of Human Resources to modify court-ordered child support payments to make them more accurately reflect the current earning power of recently released inmates. That simple change would allow many more inmates to pay off what they owe the state as reimbursement for public assistance to their families, but leave undisturbed payments owed directly to a non-custodial parent. Moreover, it would cost the state relatively little to forgive debts that, in any case, stood very little chance of ever being collected.

Critics may charge that such a plan amounts to a free ride for deadbeat dads and moms. It isn’t. Rather, it’s simply a recognition that most people in Maryland’s prisons are poor and that saddling them with mountains of debt for unpaid child support is counterproductive. Nationwide, four out of 10 single parents live below the poverty line. Nobody’s is going to get rich because of a change in the law that acknowledges that reality. It’s in everyone’s interest to bring parents recently released from prison out of the shadows so they can begin to fulfill their obligations to their families and their communities.

from the Baltimore Sun

Child Support Laws Crippling Poor Fathers

by Charles E. Lewis Jr., Ph.D

The more one learns about our system of criminal justice, the more one must wonder about some of its senseless policies.  That the United States incarcerates more of its citizens than any other country in the world is pretty much common knowledge to most.  But in case you have been asleep at the wheel, here are some mind-numbing numbers. With about five percent of the world’s population, the United States is home to nearly 25 percent of the world’s incarcerated population.  About 2.2 million people are locked behind bars on a given day.  According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, there were 1,561,500 inmates in state and federal prisons at year-end 2014 (serving terms of one year or more) and another 744,660 in local jails at midyear 2014.  About 6.9 million Americans (one in 35 adults) were under some form of correctional supervision (incarcerated, on parole or probation) at yearend 2013.  The number of adult Americans with felony convictions is estimated to be about 24 million (8.6%).  About 25 percent of black American adults have a felony conviction.

That’s the big picture.  However, throughout our criminal justice system there are laws, regulations, and issues that are antithetical to the notion of a free and democratic society.  The coercive and often deadly policing of neighborhoods of color, discriminatory “stop and frisk” laws, criminalization of the mentally ill, bail policies that unfairly impact poor suspects, and what many consider to be the inhumane over dependence on and arbitrary use of solitary confinement.  Family members and friends are often forced to travel inordinate distances to visit children, friends, and other people they care for.  They are charged exorbitant fees to speak with them by telephone and are treated without dignity during visitation.  Much of this has occurred because various elected officials compete to see who can be toughest on people who defy the law.  Many books and hundreds of journal articles have been written about our unjust system of crime control.  My dissertation focused on the impact of incarceration on the earnings and employment of indigent fathers.

InmateThe Washington Post ran an article on one particularly perplexing policy impacting poor inmates which disproportionately affects black and Latino fathers.  Child support obligations continue during periods of incarceration which often amass significant amounts of debt while these fathers are behind bars.  Once released, indebted fathers are under pressure to pay down their arrears.  Failure to do so results in more late fees and penalties and could ultimately put them back in prison.  In many jurisdictions this occurs because incarceration is considered “voluntary impoverishment”.  The term generally refers to those who quit their jobs or otherwise forfeit income in order to avoid paying an ex-spouse alimony or child support.  A classic example might be Marvin Gaye’s 1978 release of “Here My Dear,” thought to be a lackluster recording whose proceeds were going to his ex-wife, Anna Gordy Gaye.

The idea that poor fathers would deliberately get themselves locked up to avoid paying child support is ludicrous on its face and a ridiculous justification for current policy.  Columbia University social work professor Ronald B. Mincy and Urban Institute scholar Elaine Sorensen first wrote about child support policies that were burying poor incarcerated fathers back in 1998 differentiating “deadbeat” dads from “turnips”.  Deadbeat dads were those who could afford to pay but did not.  Turnips were fathers who were unable to pay—the thinking being the old adage that you can’t get blood from a turnip.  Although there is a judge in Alabama who thinks giving blood is a reasonable substitute.

The Obama Administration believes current child support policy that piles debts on poor incarcerated fathers is helping no one.  It does nothing for the mother or her child’s circumstance.  Housing the father as an inmate is significantly more costly than what the state could recoup from fathers for welfare payments to their children.  Fathers are often removed permanently from the lives of their children which one could argue might be good or bad.  The Office of Child Support Enforcement has drafted new rules that will go into effect in 2017 that changes the definition of incarceration to “involuntary” impoverishment and would allow indigent incarcerated fathers to push the pause button or negotiate a payment reduction while incarcerated.

Not surprising Republican lawmakers oppose what appears to be a commonsense rule change.   Utah Senator Orin Hatch and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) have introduced legislation to block the new rules.  There are many things wrong with our current system of criminal justice and reform is moving at a glacial pace.  In the meantime, much too much human capital is being obliterated by the many indelible scars being inflicted on far too many people—particularly African American males.

Child Support Laws Crippling Poor Fathers was originally published @ Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and Policy » Charles Lewis.

Dealing With Cop Stops & Harassment

Here’s an informative video about dealing with cops, at least as pedestrians. The Terry v Ohio case from 1960’s that he mentions, says that police have to have a reasonable suspicion that crime happened or is about to happen, in order to detain someone. BTW, up until that decision they had to have a probable cause in order to detain. So if you don’t act suspiciously, like for example casing a bank, or they have no reason to believe that you might have committed a crime (like when you match a description of some criminal), then they have no right to detain you according to that Supreme Court discussion.

The Child Support System Should Support Families, Not Government Coffers

Child support is considered an antipoverty program because it forces noncustodial parents to contribute financially to their children’s care.

dollar bondageBut it also operates as a government cost-recovery strategy by reimbursing states and the federal government for benefits paid to mothers on behalf of children. As such, families on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families only receive about a quarter of the child support collected on their behalf. The majority of states keep all child support collected on behalf of these families, and fewer than half allow even a small pass-through of the child support they collect — typically $50 — to go to the child.

Child support orders are also proportionately very high given many men’s low incomes — 70 percent of the national uncollected child support debt is owed by noncustodial parents who have no quarterly earnings or who have annual earnings of less than $10,000.

disabled dadSome fathers pay up to 65 percent of their wages in child support and arrearages to the state. Such a high level of garnishment would severely strain almost any person’s budget, and drives many low-income men into severe poverty or the underground economy.

We now know that many low-income fathers want to contribute financially, but face barriers, including a lack of education and training, lack of employment and employment opportunities, race and class discrimination, criminal records and lack of credentials like a driver’s license, permanent address and previous work history.

Child support will never reach its full potential for providing income for our most vulnerable families without fundamental changes.

Child support payments should be passed through to the custodial parent in their entirety instead of being used to recoup government spending on children.

consentPayments should be set reasonably, with greater flexibility to adjust to the noncustodial parent’s income. Fathers can now request a review, but only if they know their rights and can navigate the judicial process, which the majority do not.

Fathers need to be armed with the training and skills to compete in this global economy so they can support themselves and pay child support. Training and employment supports can be either mandatory or voluntary, but they should be available.

slavery to childrenPunitive methods to coerce a “deadbeat” dad into paying, like incarceration, should only be used in cases where fathers demonstrate that they have the means to pay, but are unwilling to fulfill their obligations, not when they are unable to. The federal Office of Child Support Enforcement itself has said that “the average incarcerated parent with a child support case has $10,000 in arrears when entering state prison, and leaves with $20,000 in arrears. Not only is this debt unlikely to ever be collected, but it adds to the barriers formerly incarcerated parents face in reentering their communities.”

Kenneth Braswell is the executive director of Fathers Incorporated, a nonprofit organization that promotes responsible fatherhood and mentoring.

overthrow

Putting Down the Inquisition of Law

by Gerard V. Bradley

we the peopleFrom the ever-expanding number of federal criminal laws to prison sentences that are too numerous or too long, there are many promising bases for criticizing overcriminalization. One such basis, however, has yet to be fully exploited for its potential to limit overcriminalization: the fact that too many criminal offenses today are malum prohibitum offenses—that is, they criminalize conduct that is morally innocuous—and do not contain an adequate mens rea (criminal-intent) element. These offenses often capture conduct that would otherwise be natural and even desirable in business, commerce, accounting, or everyday life. The primary instances discussed throughout this paper are strict liability regulatory offenses (referred to as the “central case”).[1]

In order to limit the growth of laws criminalizing morally innocuous conduct—a development which, in turn, would curb overcriminalization—the U.S. legal community would be well-served to explore the concept of retribution and the manner in which it provides an account of how punishing those convicted of criminal offenses is morally justified. Indeed, punishment without a firm basis in retribution is unjust and therefore should be avoided.

Using the principle of retribution to critique overcriminalization may seem paradoxical for two separate reasons. The first arises from widespread and sometimes grotesque misunderstandings of retribution, such that it is often caricatured to mean lock up as many people as possible for very long times. In truth, however, retribution has no built-in tendency toward severity. The second criticism arises from the fact that retribution is a justification for punishment and not a theory about substantive criminal law. But what justifies also limits. Retribution offers solid moral bases for opposing overcriminalization.
Criticisms and Confusion: Toward a Proper Understanding of Retribution

Confusion about retribution, and about the moral justification for punishment more generally, is rampant. Almost nothing in standard first-year criminal law casebooks gets it right.[2] Scholarly literature is scarcely more helpful. Legislative reformers rarely understand it and, by all accounts, never accord it the central place that it needs to occupy if the institution of punishment is to be adequately justified. High state court authority is just as confused.

This widespread misunderstanding is one reason why retribution is so neglected today. Indeed, if retribution really did mean what people seem to think it means, then it ought to be neglected. But retribution is not lex talionis, the law of retaliation—“an eye for an eye”[3]—as many think it is.

To apply the “eye for an eye” norm non-metaphorically, a polity would have to be willing to do whatever its most depraved members might do. Probably no society has so abandoned moral constraint in the pursuit of criminal justice. It is true that “eye for an eye” is found in the Bible and was apparently meant to serve as a practical guide for the ancient Israelites, but biblical scholars have explained that the “eye for an eye” axiom was not an authorization of punishment or even a command to exact a like penalty. It was instead meant to limit retaliatory acts by kin and friends of the victim to no more than the loss incurred.[4]

The historical prevalence and perennial allure of retaliatory excess—vendettas, blood feuds, lynchings, and the like—no doubt had much to do with the emergence of public systems of criminal justice. According to Oxford legal philosopher John Gardner, it was “for the elimination of these modes of retaliation, more than anything else, the criminal law as we know it today came into existence.”[5] Even so, society must distinguish between this—what Gardner calls the “displacement function” of criminal law and punishment—and its critical moral justification. For there is no necessary connection, either logically or practically, between a practice’s origins and its critical moral worth. It is easy to see, too, that the “displacement function” cannot morally justify defining some conduct as a crime or imposing criminal punishment on anyone.

Notwithstanding some historical kinship with retaliation, retribution properly understood as a critical moral proposition is not about domesticating popular hatred for a known criminal. It is not about channeling repugnance toward a particularly heinous crime. It is not state-orchestrated revenge. Retribution is not driven by anger, hatred, or any other emotion; it is distinct from community outrage. It is perhaps admissible to hold that these pacific tendencies are one desired effect or function of punishment, but that is not to say that retribution’s tendency to pacify the passions of victims of crime and their communities constitutes a moral justification for punishment: It certainly does not. Mob-conducted lynchings and similar acts of cruelty and injustice are also capable of pacifying community outrage for (real or perceived) wrongdoing, but civilized society condemns such conduct.
Against the Transfer Justification of Punishment

H.L.A. Hart, one of the leading legal philosophers of the 20th century, famously argued that society may impose punishment on an offender only where society has been “harmed.” He identified two types of harms: where the authority of law is diminished and where a member of society is injured.[6] Hart’s first category could be mistaken for an awkward description of the retributive view described here, but his view of crime and punishment was very different from the one that is considered in this paper.

Hart’s second harm—that a member of society is injured—points toward a deeper investigation of the moral relationship between the institution of punishment and private rights. Hart is scarcely alone in holding this view. Richard Swinburne has argued that the state enjoys authority to impose punishment for criminal harm only where it serves as a proxy for the individual victim,[7] and he said that this was a retributive viewpoint.

Swinburne and Hart apparently imagine a state of nature similar to that described by John Locke: a notional place where individuals hold a natural moral right to punish those who harm them.[8] When these individuals band together to form a civil society, these thinkers (Swinburne, Hart, and perhaps Locke) suppose that they transfer their natural authority to punish to the emergent political authority, so the state punishes as agent or delegate of the community—conceived as an aggregate of individual rights-bearers, now standing down.

This whole line of thought is mistaken. Civil society does not punish as transferee or delegate of the victim. Civil society punishes in its own name for its own sake because civil society itself is the victim of each and every crime. Indeed, central political authority and its authoritative directives for the common good—laws—are a necessary precondition to and are conceptually derived from the institution of punishment.

There are two additional compelling arguments against the transfer justification of punishment theory.

First, as a matter of contingent fact, criminal acts often do involve an injustice to one or more specific persons: the defrauded elderly lady, the black-eyed assault victim, the hapless pedestrian whose car was stolen. But many crimes lack any such unwilling, particularized victim. Among these offenses are many public morals laws (drug possession, gambling, and prostitution); offenses against the state (including treason, espionage, and lying to the grand jury); and “quality of life” crimes (littering and public intoxication). In these cases, it is often far from obvious which individuals, if any, have a natural right to punish those who did them harm.

Second, there is good reason to doubt the premise of the transferor theory: namely, that there exists a natural right to punish those who do wrong to oneself or to one’s kin. People do have a natural right to defend themselves against attack and theft. People do have a natural right (within limits) to take back any goods that have been wrongfully taken from them. People do have a natural right to demand some remedy for vandalism or other wrongful deprivation of property. And people have a natural right to use force that is reasonable in amount and kind in order to accomplish those goals. But all these rights bundled together do not yield, imply, or entail a natural right to punish, because the nature of punishment differs from the nature of self-defense, replevin, or restitution. Nor do these rights promise moral justification of criminal punishment (even if they perhaps do provide justification for an inchoate tort system and an embryonic joint protective or police association).

Wicked deeds are a necessary but not a sufficient condition for morally justified punishment. Individuals regularly witness acts of injustice by others—lying spouses, cruel parents, disrespectful children, cheating colleagues—but it scarcely occurs to those witnessing these acts that they, as individuals, are authorized to punish those bad actions. Moreover, even if it is presumed that person A misbehaves and that his misbehavior warrants the judgment “A deserves to be punished,” it does not follow that B, C, D, or anyone else has the moral authority to punish A. Even in advanced legal systems, violations of law do not automatically authorize anyone to punish the violator; only certain officials wielding designated powers according to the relevant positive law are designated competent to punish others.
Civil Authorities and the Imposition of Punishment

Punishing a criminal involves the deliberate imposition by the political community’s administrative arm—the state—of some privation or harm upon an unwilling member of society. Whether punishment takes the form of a fine, incarceration, or (historically) the rack, the question arises: How is such a grave imposition upon someone morally justified?

The question of why civil authorities are entitled to punish is usually treated in law school as the “point” or “purpose” or “rationale” of punishment and not often as a question about its “moral justification”—a sign of the confusion that usually follows. The question is typically the first topic in criminal law class.

The laundry list of punishment’s purposes in criminal law casebooks includes deterrence, rehabilitation, and incapacitation. These purposes refer to, respectively, sanctioning a convicted criminal with a view to providing a disincentive to him or others to commit similar crimes, making the criminal well psychologically and socially, and isolating the criminal from law-abiding people. The problem is that none of these “rationales” provides an adequate moral justification for punishing anyone. Retribution does. But retribution is usually mangled in the teaching materials.
The Purposes of Law in Political Society

Understanding retribution depends upon a prior understanding of the purposes of law and the nature of cooperation in political society.

In the absence of any established political order, people would be free from authoritative constraint to do as they pleased. Their choices would not necessarily render society an uncontrollably selfish state of nature, as Thomas Hobbes anticipated.[9] Absent political order, some people would act reasonably—maybe even altruistically—and seek to cooperate with other people to achieve common benefits. (Call this the possibility of private ordering.)

But such a state of nature would, by definition, lack the means to structure the sort of cooperation that a large and heterogeneous society sometimes requires. Even custom could not provide this structure, at least for any large or complex society. States of nature lack altogether a common or effective authority by which to bring recalcitrants and free riders into line and by which to respond coercively to those who acted unfairly outside of the common pattern. Without some such central authority, the weaker members of society would be prey for the stronger, save where the former allied themselves into protective associations with the latter—in which case the excesses of vendettas and retaliatory raids might call forth a central authority: a proto-state.

Political society provides just such an authoritative scheme for structuring cooperation. Once this authority is up and running and providing direction (usually through law), justice requires individuals to accept the pattern of liberty and restraint specified by political authorities. Indeed, it is everyone’s acceptance of the established apparatus of political society for the purposes of cooperation for common good that makes civil liberty possible. One crucial meaning of equality and liberty within political society is precisely that everyone observes the pattern of freedom, restraint, and forbearance set up by these authorities.

Criminal acts often—but far from always (e.g., so-called victimless crimes)—involve injustice to one or more specific individuals, such as the battered spouse. What always occurs in crime is this: The criminal unjustifiably usurps liberty to pursue his own plans and projects in his own way, notwithstanding the law’s pattern of restraint. Thus far considered, the entire community remains within the law, each member denying to himself the liberty to do as he pleases except for the criminal. The criminal acts outside the pattern of common restraint and thus of mutual forbearance and cooperation.

The central wrong in crime, therefore, is not that a criminal causes harm to a specific individual. Rather, it is that the criminal claims the right to pursue his own interests and plans in a manner contrary to the common boundaries delineated by the law. From this perspective, the entire community—with the exception of the criminal—is victimized by crime. The criminal’s act of usurpation is unfair to everyone else; he has gained an undue advantage over those who remain inside the legally required pattern of restraint. In this view, punishing criminals is necessary to “avoid injustice, to maintain a rational order of proportionate equality, or fairness, as between all members of society.”[10]

Punishment restores the fundamental fairness and equality of mutual restraint disturbed by the criminal’s act. A criminal is punished in order to efface (as it were) his prior extravagance. By and through his punishment, society is restored to the status quo ante: The equality of mutual restraint within law is—morally speaking—re-established. The criminal’s debt to society is paid.

Again, depriving the criminal of this ill-gotten advantage is the central aim of punishment. Since that advantage consists primarily of a wrongful exercise of freedom of choice and action, the most appropriate means to restore order is to deprive the criminal of that freedom. Punishment sometimes includes sensory deprivation and even limited and transient pain, such as the pain of being shackled or of not being able to satisfy one’s hunger, and these will likely be experienced by the criminal as “suffering.”[11] The essence of punishment, however, is to restrict a criminal’s will by depriving him of the right to be the sole author of his own actions.[12]
Retribution: Moral Explanations and Justifications for Punishment

Arguing that retribution should be (at least) the primary driver of the moral justification of punishment is not like advocating that society dust off an impractical moralism, as if retribution were somehow a “justification in exile.” Retribution not only performs the invaluable service of justifying an essential but morally confounding social practice; it also provides morally adequate explanations for some anchor commitments within that social practice.

Take, for example, the ubiquitous styling of criminal prosecutions as a lawsuit to which the entire community is party, as in People v. Smith. Why are the “People” (or the “State” or the “Commonwealth”) the complaining party in every criminal case? Perhaps because retribution shows why and how by showing how society as a whole is victimized by every criminal act.

Retribution also underwrites the whole moralistic framework and language of criminal justice in a way that no other account of punishment can do. “Praise and blame,” “freedom and responsibility,” “guilt and innocence,” “crime and punishment”: This whole panoply of concepts and terms is part and parcel of America’s criminal justice experience, and it is supported well by retributive theory. So, too, is the act-specific and choice-specific focus of the criminal law.

From a retributive view, no one’s uncharitable attitudes, character defects, or personality disorders (all of which might trigger intervention in a rehabilitative or reformative regime of punishment) are fit grounds for punishment. The reason that they are not predicates for punishment owes to the fact that they are not acts of usurping liberty. The mere possession of these traits or beliefs is not, moreover, unfair to others.[13] Proponents of rehabilitation and paternalistic moral reformers, by contrast, are hardly able to explain why their particular ministrations must always await (by dint of moral imperative) the performance of some prohibited act.[14]

Another indication of how retribution explains and justifies punishment involves a perennial chestnut of first-year criminal law classes: What if a public authority could stave off riots and mayhem only by hanging an innocent person popularly believed to be guilty? The commonplace statement of moral priorities in society has long been “better that a hundred guilty persons go free than that one innocent suffer.”[15] Perhaps a hundred is hyperbole; Blackstone put the number at 10.[16] No matter, though, because both numbers express an important truth: A just society never wittingly convicts an innocent and stops at almost nothing to avoid negligently doing so.

Why? What are the moral underpinnings of this commitment, which is deeply embedded in this nation’s law and institutions?

Where retribution forms the moral justification for punishment, the problem of punishing the innocent can be solved. The aim of retribution is always frustrated—and is never served—by punishing the innocent. Punishing someone who has committed no offense is counterproductive. If someone has not distorted society’s equilibrium by committing a criminal act, harming him cannot restore that equilibrium, especially while the truly deserving party escapes retribution. Making an innocent disgorge his bold act of will is impossible, for there is nothing to be disgorged. Inflicting “punishment” on the innocent is instead simple scapegoating, which, even if it could somehow be morally justified, is surely not punishment at all.

Additionally, retribution promises cogent instruction on some controversial issues of the day. Retribution points straightaway, for example, in favor of determinate sentencing. The harm of any crime is cabined within a defined act performed on a particular occasion, and the measure of punishment required to redress it is tied tightly around that discrete act and its particular harm, both conceptually and morally.

Retribution also points, however, to a negative judgment on the broad movement in favor of “victims’ rights.” The specific victims of a criminal act deserve to be taken seriously and treated reasonably by all actors in the criminal justice system, from their first police encounter all the way through trial and sentencing. But it is dubious policy to make dispositive victims’ opinions about the disposition of what some call “their” cases and about appropriate penalties for offenders. Reconciling victims with their victimizers is not a bad idea, but in most cases, it may be quixotic, and in no case should it be the only goal of those public officials who are in charge of criminal justice matters.

Retribution and Overcriminalization

The foregoing slog through retribution and its virtues and alleged vices lays the foundation from which this paper may now take aim at overcriminalization. Below are five distinct criticisms of this phenomenon. Each is based upon moral principle. Each cuts deeply. The five are mutually reinforcing in very interesting ways, and the whole may be greater than the sum of its parts. Taken together, these five criticisms support the conclusion that the central case of overcriminalization—viz., a strict liability regulatory offense—is a case of unjust punishment, which is to say that it should not be done.

The following considerations do not address whether any one of the criticisms or some combination of them short of five supports the same conclusion. The effective force of these five criticisms upon secondary and peripheral cases of overcriminalization is also left aside, save to say that these criticisms have considerable extended force.

Criticism #1: Overcriminalization is driven by a desire to deter and is therefore unable to morally justify criminal sanctions.

As the Manhattan Institute’s Marie Gryphon writes:

[O]ften the overriding reason for enacting a piece of legislation is to produce an overall social benefit, and the criminal sanctions attached to certain forms of conduct…are chiefly aimed at conducing to that benefit by deterring that conduct rather than stigmatizing it and punishing the person who carried it out….[17]

Because it is impossible to fit the central case into the retributive framework—and because rehabilitation and moral reform are inapposite too—deterrence is left haplessly to shoulder the whole moral justificatory burden.

It is not altogether misleading to say that the goal of any criminal justice system is that certain conduct become rarer than it otherwise would be, and it is often said that retribution looks backward while deterrence looks forward and anticipates a beneficial societal result (more specifically, less crime). In this formulation of punishment theory, retribution is sometimes said to inflict socially useless suffering upon people and thus to be beyond the pale of worthy social policy. So far considered, it seems that deterrence and not retribution ought to be driving things.

The sole goal of deterrence is to reduce the future incidence of crime. Deterrence thinking is suffused with utilitarian theories of value, which tend toward social engineering in their social analyses. Retribution aims to restore a lost balance of fairness and equality for its own sake and not (as utilitarians would insist) because it is an overall state of affairs which includes proportionally more of goods or values or preferences than it does of corresponding negations, however these matters are determined.

The goal of retribution, though, is to re-establish the balance of fairness in political society. Both theories of punishment thus attempt to have a positive effect on society after the incidence of criminal activity, albeit in different ways. Retribution has the considerable further advantage of being capable of morally justifying criminal sanctions, which deterrence by itself lacks. And deterrent aims may be integrated (up to a point) with retributive moral underpinnings in a functioning criminal justice system, such as our own.[18]

Criticism #2: Overcriminalization disfigures the whole moralistic aspect of criminal law and its enforcement in two very different ways.

The first way arises from the fact that, for the foreseeable future, a criminal conviction will continue to stigmatize the offender as morally deficient: as the possessor of tainted, if not just plain bad, character. But someone convicted in our central case (like others whose punishment cannot be justified on retributive grounds) does not deserve this obloquy. Nor is he rightly made to suffer the many collateral consequences that come with a criminal conviction—being labeled as a criminal offender, being deprived of his right to vote, and many other legal and informal social disabilities and handicaps.

The second distortion stems from the first. Precisely because the central-case defendant is not a moral reprobate, the moral obloquy of criminal conviction is likely to be watered down by its improvident extension to him. This sullying effect is not limited to the precise regulatory offense at issue or to a class of similar offenses. The point is that the social identification of criminal conviction with moral fault will be watered down across the board.

The classic example is overtime parking, a trivial violation of the motor vehicle code that probably everyone who has ever driven has committed at some time. Because everyone has committed that offense, no one treats the matter as evidence of a character flaw. The result is that, for such infractions, society has severed the connection between a moral defect and a criminal offense. Because there are very good reasons to retain and preserve this connection and to preserve it as a common good, overcriminalization portends a potentially serious social loss.

Criticism #3: Overcriminalization creates a scenario in which the central-case defendant can be punished without performing the generic conduct—the liberty grab—that is the moral predicate of just punishment.

The third criticism hearkens back to the retributive understanding of the defining harm of criminal conduct, which is the malefactor’s unilateral grab of more liberty than he is due. This is the morally reprehensible preference for one’s own will over the prescribed legal course and at the expense of the common good, which is the heart of the retributive story.

The central-case offender, however, had no opportunity to choose to comply (or not) with the law. Or he might have chosen to (try to) comply but non-negligently failed to do so. In either event, he does not deserve to be punished, because he has not performed the generic conduct—the liberty grab—that is the moral predicate of just punishment. Because the paradigm individual never chose to commit a morally blameworthy act, society should not punish him with a device (the criminal justice system) that operates best, from a moral perspective, when its application is limited to parties who have grabbed for more gusto than their share allows.

This criticism is complicated by society’s nearly dogmatic systemic commitment to the proposition ignorantia legis neminem excusat—“ignorance of the law is no excuse.”[19] This maxim may be an impregnable—and largely sound—element of our criminal litigation system; at least, any alternative maxim could present problems of proof and might portend too much lawbreaking license. But overcriminalization is not a courtroom issue. It is a policy issue for legislators. In that arena, the anticipation that many people who could be prosecuted for the central-case offense will not have chosen selfishly to prefer their own will is a very good reason not to enact proposed strict liability criminal laws.

Criticism #4: Overcriminalization fails to encourage those who abide by the law.

The fourth criticism is a mirror image of the third. Fully understanding it depends upon a moral imperative as well as a practical exigency heretofore left implicit. The moral imperative is that punishment is necessary to avoid the injustice that would otherwise fester in the wake of any criminal’s unfair usurpation of liberty. This is society as victim. The practical matter is that punishment assures society that crime does not pay and that, by observing the law, the rest of society is not made into hapless losers. This is society as chump. Legal philosopher John Finnis explains this point more fully:

There is a need to give the law-abiding the encouragement of knowing that they are not being abandoned to the mercies of criminals, that the lawless are not being left to the peaceful enjoyment of ill-gotten gains, and that to comply with the law is not to be a mere sucker: for without this support and assurance the indispensable co-operation of the law-abiding is not likely to be continued.[20]

The central-case defendant—one who violates a strict liability regulatory offense—is punished without any evidence that he intended to violate the law, intended to engage in inherently wrongful conduct, or knew that his conduct was wrongful or prohibited by law. Nor is any evidence required that he violated a duty owed to another individual, to a group of individuals, or to society itself. Just as he can scarcely be accused of choosing to usurp liberty that society’s other members deny to themselves, they can scarcely be described as “suckers” for not doing likewise. Just as the central-case defendant had no real opportunity to choose to treat us unfairly, we have no real opportunity to choose to remain within the overall pattern of restraint marked out by law—or not to so choose.
Criticism #5: By eliminating the guilty-mind, or mens rea, requirement and by stipulating punishment for a morally innocuous act which the “wrongdoer” may never have chosen, the central case defies intelligent sentencing.

The fifth criticism turns to how retribution guides the competent lawmaker in creating a schedule of actual sentences. There are two very different faces to this picture, one well focused and the other blurry. Moral principles can tell the lawmaker that assault and theft, for example, should be treated as crimes and that those who commit these crimes should be punished, but moral principles—including those supplied by the retributive justification of punishment—do not by themselves tell the lawmaker which privations should be imposed for those crimes. Nor does moral principle tell the lawmaker how much of any specific privation—confinement, monetary fine, community service, civil disability—is just right.

There is, in other words, a very substantial range of free choice here for the lawmaker. This is the blurry part: The task at hand is guided, but underdetermined, by reason.

The clearer picture is this: A retribution-based understanding of punishment implies that any sentence be doubly proportional—first to the harm caused by the crime and second among the various crimes—so that the more egregious crimes are subject to proportionally greater sanction than lesser crimes. But how is one to distinguish large from small in this context?

No one thinks that the harm of a crime is mainly the tangible loss to a specific victim. If that were the case, then this nation would not have, for example, the many gradations of homicide that it does have, ranging from murder in the first degree all the way down to negligent homicide, then off the criminal chart entirely to actionable civil homicides, and then to cases in which one person causes the death of another without acting unlawfully at all. (The latter include genuine accidents and justified killings, such as those committed in self-defense.) Attempts to commit crimes—particularly the most reprehensible crimes such as murder, rape, kidnapping, and armed robbery—are generally punished at just a shade less than the punishment for consummated offenses. But if tangible, realized harm were the metric, then it would be hard to justify punishing attempts at all.

Clearly, the U.S. criminal justice system is predicated upon an understanding of crime as—in some very basic way—a matter of bad choices. By fleshing out those bad choices as unfair grabs of liberty, retribution helps supply a common measure of the harm done in every crime.

This is not to say that the more tangible damage done by a criminal’s bad choice does not matter at all. Someone who chooses intentionally to kill another human being has demonstrated an extraordinary preference for his own freedom of choice and has exercised it in gross disregard for the equal liberty and equal dignity of another person. This murderer’s usurpation is much greater and more heinous than that of the petty thief, and they should each be sentenced accordingly.

The final criticism, plainly stated, is that by eliminating the guilty-mind, or mens rea, requirement and by stipulating punishment for a morally innocuous act which the “wrongdoer” may never have chosen, our central case defies intelligent sentencing. The central case swings free of the proffered common metric and would seem destined to gauge an appropriate sanction either arbitrarily or by exclusive reference to the raw tangible damage wrought by the putatively criminal act.

[1]Strict liability criminal offenses allow the state to impose criminal punishment even if the “wrongdoer” did not intend to violate any law; did not intend to engage in inherently wrongful conduct (murder, rape, robbery, assault, theft, embezzlement, and the like); did not know that his conduct was wrongful or prohibited; and did not violate any duty of care he owed to the victim or to society as a whole. In other words, the “wrongdoer” need not have had any criminal intent or even be negligent in order to be subjected to criminal punishment under a strict liability offense.

[2]American law schools’ characteristic failures in criminal law instruction are not limited to the topic of retribution. Douglas Husak points out that that the “instructor’s manual to the most widely adopted casebook in criminal law recommends that the brief materials on ‘What to Punish?’ should be skipped in a one-semester course” and notes that criminal-law courses generally fail to cover the topic of overcriminalization. Douglas Husak, Overcriminalization: The Limits of the Criminal Law 61 (2008).

[3] See Exodus 21:24; Leviticus 24:20; Deuteronomy 19:21. Although found in and often thought to have originated with biblical scripture, the concept embodied in the lex talionis prescription (or proscription) also appears prominently in other ancient sources, such as the Code of Hammurabi.

[4] Cf. Moshe Greenberg, Some Postulates of Biblical Criminal Law, in Yehezkel Kaufmann Jubilee Volume: Studies in Bible and Jewish Religion 13–20 (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1960) (comparing the relatively restrained and limited punishments under the law of the biblical Israelites for property crimes with the relative severity of contemporaneous legal systems’ punishments for property crimes—and with the biblical law’s own punishments for murder and other crimes resulting in death).

[5]John Gardner, Offences and Defences: Selected Essays in the Philosophy of Criminal Law 213 (Oxford 2007).

[6]H.L.A. Hart, Prolegomenon to the Principles of Punishment, in Hart, Punishment and Responsibility 22 (5th ed. 1982).

[7] See Daniel Robinson, Praise and Blame 180–83 (Oxford 2002).

[8] See John Locke, Two Treatises on Government 27l–76 (Peter Laslett ed., Cambridge Univ. Press 1988) (1690).

[9]Thomas Hobbes, On the Citizen 26–31 (Richard Tuck & Michael Silverthorne, eds., Cambridge University Press 1998) (1642).

[10]John Finnis, Natural Law and Natural Rights 262 (Oxford 1980).

[11]Retribution has little (if anything) to do, however, with what Hart called the “intrinsic value” of inflicting suffering on wrongdoers. Suffering is necessarily a privation, a loss, a difficulty, a subtraction from the way things ought to be. Suffering so described is bad, and by definition, something bad does not have “intrinsic value.” If it did, it would be good. It seems likely that what Hart actually had in mind was the fact that we feel relieved to see the unjust “pay” for their crimes. Yet that view refers to suffering’s instrumental value, not its intrinsic significance.

[12]Hart understood well the concept of excess liberty upon which the retributive view of punishment depended. In discussing tort liability, for example, Hart refers explicitly to the artificial equality that a just system of law imposes upon the inequalities of nature by forbidding the strong and cunning from exploiting their natural advantages to cheat or harm weaker or guileless individuals. This legal equality is disrupted, Hart concluded, whenever a tortfeasor is “indulging his wish to injure [another person] or not sacrificing his ease to the duty of taking adequate precautions.” H.L.A. Hart, The Concept of Law 165 (2d ed. 1994). Legal remedies therefore attempt to restore the “moral status quo” in which victim and wrongdoer are, once again, on equal footing. Id. Yet Hart was confident a priori that retribution was solely a matter of inflicting suffering on a wrongdoer as a just return for his wickedness, a premise derived in part from his assumption that punishment was incontrovertibly defined as the infliction of pain. Perhaps it never occurred to Hart to extend his initial idea from tort to crime, even where he seemed very close to such a result. See generally H.L.A. Hart, Punishment and Responsibility, supra note 6.

[13] Cf. Paris Adult Theatre I v. Slaton, 413 U.S. 49, 67–68 (1973) (“The fantasies of a drug addict are his own and beyond the reach of government, but government regulation of drug sales is not prohibited by the Constitution.”).

[14]Rehabilitative goals may be accommodated within a system of punishment rooted in retributive commitments as well. They do not fit, however, as justifications of punishment but instead play out as incidents of human care for those who are imprisoned. One incident of any custodial sentence is the state’s assumption of a paternalistic role concerning the offender, a role which it would be wrong for the state to attempt apart from the morally justifiable custodial relationship. Prisoners cannot make many decisions for themselves. Their commercial options are those which the prison makes available to them. Their personal choices are limited by the exigencies of maintaining security in the prison. A prisoner with a drug habit may be obliged by the justice system to seek treatment, both for his own good and for the sake of those living with him in prison. A man guilty of criminal assault may be filled with abnormal rage and required to attend anger-management sessions in jail, or perhaps even in lieu of jail.

[15]This formulation of the maxim is attributed to Benjamin Franklin and was first used by the Supreme Court in 1895. Coffin v. United States, 156 U.S. 432, 456. For a comprehensive treatment, see Alexander Volokh, Guilty Men, 146 U. Pa. L. Rev. 173 (1997).

[16]4 William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England *358 (1765).

[17]Marie Gryphon, It’s a Crime? Flaws in Federal Statutes That Punish Standard Business Practice, Manhattan Inst. Civil Justice Report No. 12, at 12 (Nov. 2009).

[18]See Retribution and the Secondary Aims of Punishment, 44 Am. J. Juris. 105 (1999).

[19]For a critical discussion of that maxim, see Ronald A. Cass, Ignorance of the Law: A Maxim Reexamined, 17 Wm. & Mary L. Rev. 671 (1976).

[20]Finnis, Natural Law and Natural Rights, supra note 10, at 262.

Web of Inquisitional U.S. Law Creating Criminals

we the peopleFor decades, Washington D.C. has been adding to the number of federal laws and regulations that carry criminal penalties. Now the number is so high, no one is actually sure how many there are. Experts say practically anyone could be convicted of some sort of federal crime. And it’s all too easy for anyone to violate one of these laws and never know it. Congress has made it dangerous just to be alive in America, never mind whether you are guilty or not. Like federal child support laws, it’s all a matter of inquisition. Common law is dead.

The truth is that anyone can fall prey to overcriminalization. Civil rights have become secondary to the Rule of Law and I don’t mean Common Law. This law certainly isn’t your grandfathers law. [protected] Legal misadventures happened to racing legend Bobby Unser beginning in 1996. Unser went snowmobiling in the Rio Grande National Forest on the border of New Mexico and Colorado.

He and a friend got caught in a blizzard and were stranded for two days and two nights. They barely escaped with their lives. But that was only the beginning of his ordeal. “Bottom line: Don’t trust any government agency,” he warned. “Stand as clear from them as you can. Stay away from them because they’re not there for your good.”

Unser found himself in the middle of a fight with the U.S. Forest Service, facing a possible $5,000 fine and six months in jail for violating The Wilderness Act. The agency accused him of illegally snowmobiling on federally protected land known as “wilderness area.” The racing champ claimed that even if he was in the wilderness area, it was only when he was lost in the snowstorm. With money in the bank and the idea of principle, Unser decided to fight the charge in court.

“Well, I estimate that we probably spent around $300,000, maybe $350,000 would be my guess,” Unser said. As for the government, they spent millions of dollars in their efforts for prosecute Unser. “At the time we went to court, they’d already spent up somewhere around a million dollars. What – it’s the taxpayers money. They didn’t really care how much it cost,” he said.

In the end, he lost and paid a $75 fine. Now the three-time Indy 500 winner has another title to add to his record: He’s been convicted of a federal misdemeanor for getting lost in the wilderness.

Like many others, Unser blames Congress and the men that run it for the growing number of federal laws.

But it’s not just lawmakers who are at fault. Federal agencies not only enforce the laws, but write their own regulations which also carry criminal penalties. With government involved in everything from the environment to employment to health, anyone can easily get caught in the web of federal laws. The numbers prove it. Between 2000 and 2010, close to 800,000 people were sentenced for federal crimes.

Representative Louie Gohmert, Republican – Texas is among a few lawmakers on Capitol Hill sounding the alarm about the disturbing phenomenon, saying that Congress should re-think stiff penalties on simple accounting errors when filing taxes. In the past 20 or 30 years the number of people in jails and prisons in American has gone up almost tenfold because every time you turn around there are new laws.

One solution is for the House Judiciary Committee to oversee any new regulation that carries a criminal penalty, but this may be akin to having another fox to watch the hen house. The attitude behind the penalties is that Congress wants to appear to be tough on crime, including doubling up where state law is sufficient. It wastes money and doesn’t reduce crime. Orwell’s classic book “1984” states the case where fear is predominant and the violation of federal law is likely. There isn’t enough public awareness or outrage! Sadly, this is already because of fear.
[/protected]

How American Freedom Has Been Destroyed

Why the Fourteenth Amendment Doesn’t Exist
How the Constitution Has Been Destroyed

burning the constitutionOriginally, the Constitution limited the jurisdiction of the federal government by making citizens of the state in which they were born or resided. According to the Constitution, the federal government could only have jurisdiction on a person if they lived in Washington DC or a US territory.

The Federalists who took control of our government after the Civil War, instituted the 14th Amendment to “protect” the former slaves. This amendment allowed the former slaves to come under the Jurisdiction of the Federal Government in order that the Federal Government could protect their Constitutional rights. Many blacks were being abused by people and the local or state governments would not come to their aid. The 14th Amendment may have freed the slaves from oppression of their neighbors, but it gave them and us a new master, the Federal Government. The 14th Amendment makes us citizens of the UNITED STATES AND of the several states. NOTE THE SMALL “c” ON THE WORD CITIZEN. This allows the Federal Government to have jurisdiction over us that it never had before the 14th Amendment. The 14th Amendment also states (the last section) that the debt of the Federal government cannot even be questioned.

Most people have received their UNITED STATES citizenship when they received their Social Security Card. With the Social Security Card came income taxes. I am not going to go into how we have been put under Statutory (Admiralty) Law; I will simply state that we are under it. We all know this because we need a license (permission to break the law) or permit to do things. A free citizen doesn’t require a license or a permit. Why would a free person require permission from the government to get married, drive a car, start a business, to add onto his/her home or improve his/her property?

Please show me in the US Constitution or your state constitution where a government has the right to demand such obedience? If anyone is arrogant enough to try to use the US Constitution to show such things, please align your argument with the 10th Amendment. How did we get in such a mess, but more importantly, how do we get out of such a mess?

The Congress in session during the time the 14th Amendment was declared law provided people with a way to get out from under these provisions. It is called an apostille. An apostille allows you to deny or renounce your United States citizenship and receive diplomatic immunity. For total freedom, you also must file a UCC-1 lien against your STRAWMAN and a denial of corporate existence against the incorporated local and state governments.

Have you ever noticed that your driver’s license, bank statement, and any bill that you receive is in all capital letters? This is not by accident; there is a legal reason for this.

DID YOU EVER WONDER WHY THE GOVERNMENT OR THE STATE CAN TAKE YOUR HOUSE, PROPERTY, CARS, BANK ACCOUNTS, CHILDREN ETC.?

DO YOU THINK YOU OWN EVERYTHING YOU WORKED SO HARD FOR THROUGHOUT YOUR LIFE?

DO YOU THINK YOU ARE TRULY FREE AS GOD INTENDED IT TO BE SO? OR ARE YOU A SLAVE?

ARE YOU A SUBJECT AND PAYING DUTY TO THE CROWN OF ENGLAND THROUGH THE TAX SYSTEM?

WHAT IS YOUR REAL NAME? IS IT JOHN HENRY DOE, IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS OR IS IT, John Henry Doe, IN UPPER AND LOWER CASE LETTERS?

I KNOW THE ANSWERS, BUT DO YOU?

IF YOU WANT YOUR LIFE AND FREEDOM BACK YA BETTER READ ON!

ASSUME THE FOLLOWING:

The United States is bankrupt and has been since 1933. The government has no gold or silver as required by the Constitution. The only asset left is the people. So how does the U.S. finance its daily operations?

Solution, collateralize the people for credit. How? By registering them in international commerce, and selling bonds on them. The people become the surety on the bonds, or the “pledge”. The asset bonded (surety) is the labor of the people which is payable as some undetermined future date. Thus, the people become the “utility” for the “transmission” of energy. Result, a very sophisticated form of peonage or slavery and the Constitution does not apply because the government, on all levels, is thrown into international commerce, the law merchant, now known as the Uniform Commercial Code. [See Public Law 88-244 in which the U.S. Subscribed to private international law. See definition of “goods” under the Uniform Commercial Code; Section 2-105(1) and 9-105(1) in which animals, i.e. humans and their unborn offspring, become “goods” sellable in commerce!]

When a baby is born in the UNITED STATES, a birth certificate is registered with the Bureau of Vital Statistics in the State of birth. The key word here is “registered” as registered in international commerce. The baby becomes the surety, whose energy is due at some future date. REMINDS YOU OF THE MOVIE MATRIX DOESN’T IT. When the birth certificate is registered in the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Department of Treasury issues a bond on the birth certificate ($1,000,000) and the bond is sold at some securities exchange and perhaps bought by the Federal Reserve Bank, which then uses it as collateral in order to issue Federal Reserve Notes or some other form of “debt obligation” (see 18 USC §411). The bond is then held in trust for the Federal Reserve at the Depository Trust Corp. At 55 Water Street, in New York City, about two blocks down the street from the Fed. It is a high rise office building and the sign out front reads “The Tower of Power”. I. E. MATRIX

When the birth certificate is registered, a separate legal entity is created, like a mirror image of the flesh and blood human. This separate entity, or alter ego (THE ALL CAPITAL LETTER NAME) is the “strawman”. (See Black’s Law 6th edition dictionary). And it is the “accommodation party” of the Uniform commercial Code §3-415. The “name” is credit. (See Back’s 6th “accommodation party”). Therefore the right (or the use) has been separated from the title (or deed). The “straw man” holds the title (he belongs to the government’s client who bought the title) and the real live you, flesh and blood man or women has only naked possession with the limited “right” to use the thing (like your body or your alleged possessions and land). Maybe that’s why our civil rights suits get dismissed out of court on Civil Rule 12(b)(6) motions. This deals with “failure to state a title upon which relief can be granted”. A claim is another word for “title”. So we have “failed to state upon which relief can be granted”. We do not own the “title”, even to our own bodies anymore. Isn’t that encouraging! How free are you now?

When the straw man violates some rule or statue (for instance a traffic ticket), the flesh and blood, the real you has to appear at the arraignment and admit the straw man’s name (credit) and the “energy” surety is due and payable (fine) by the flesh and blood man who is in use of the straw man. This, I’m sure, is why it is so important to “voluntarily give” your name to the magistrate (court). The defendant is the straw man. The real you, the flesh and blood man is the “offender”. An “offender” is on the offensive team until he screws up and goes on the defensive team with the defendant (straw man) and looses as the real man.

So if this scenario is correct, how does one get back the bond that has been sold on the birth certificate. And then how does one get in control of his body and his property?

TITLE = RIGHT = REMEDY = RELIEF can only be granted after perfecting the “security interest” in the “goods” (The collateral = pignus = the straw man

DEFINITIONS & MEANINGS

Stramineus homo /straminiyas howmow/. L. Lat. A man of straw, one of no substance, put Forward as bail surety.

Stratocracy /stseokraisiy/. A military government; government by military chiefs of an army.

Straw man or party. A “front”, a third party who is put up in name only to take part in a transaction. Nominal party to a transaction; one who acts as an agent for another for the purpose of taking title to real property and executing whatever documents and instruments the principal may direct respecting the property. Person who purchases property for another to conceal identity of real purchaser, or to accomplish some purpose otherwise not allowed.

At birth your parents and the doctor become the pledger of the birth certificate title to the baby Johnny. The State become the recipient of this pledge for the future energy output of “Johnny”. The state converts the “title security document” into a bond which is sold on the open market place to finance government. The bond holder is the secured party to receive the future energy output of Johnny. Johnny is the mere naked holder and possessor of the body with no title. His duty is to the secured party. To keep your child you must not give it a first name while in the hospital do not fill out the birth certificate papers, put them off permanently. Let the child decide when they are 18 to enter into the fed if they wish.

The definition of the straw man now becomes apparent. The straw man is nom de guerre artificial entity put forth that is owned by the secured party who bought into the bond placed on the market by the Treasury of the United States. The straw man is not yours. It is the front man for the secured party holder of the bond. Whatever the straw man signs, he does so to place title to property in the hands of the UNITED STATES and the bond owner. The straw man does not place title to the property into Johnny’s hands. That is because Johnny does not have title to the straw man. The straw man belongs to the UNITED STATES and the bond owner.

In order to get one’s liberty and independence back, one must first secure the title and ownership of the straw man back. Once one controls the straw man, then one controls the rights of the property that the straw man acquires.

The key to ownership is registration. In a military government, registered property is recognized By the “public” side. If the property is registered on the public side of the government, then the property is public. If the property is registered on the private side, then the property is private with no public interest.

The military government (democracy) has three appointed leaders. The governor, the Secretary Of State, and the Secretary of Treasury. The Secretary of State holds the registration for the Democracy corporation. The public side of the registration is the “corporate filings” at the state And county levels. The private side of the filings are the “Uniform Commercial Code filings” of the creditors to transactions. This registration by the private creditor is the highest priority of recognition by the military State (democracy). If one is not registered, then one is believed to be “foreign” with no rights, private or public, except what is granted by the military law form As a privilege.

For one to regain title to his body, the Birth Certificate must be secured and attached and recorded in the private UCC-1 filings with the Secretary of State in the democracy. Once the living soul has redeemed his Birth Certificate and filed notice of the redemption by a UCC-1 filing with the Secretary of State, then the living soul has the right of property ownership in himself through his straw man who now belongs to the living soul. Furthermore, the bond created and sold in the market place for the straw man now becomes the property of the living soul. The living soul now has the capacity to own real property by allodium and to own private chattel property by the process of the passover, redemption, chargeback, and discharge of public debt.

What’s in a name? Very simple. A name is CREDIT. For any unauthorized person to use your Name or the straw man’s name (when they do not own the title to the straw man) is to violate the laws of “slander of credit”. Once you have redeemed the straw man and own him, then any further commercial process done by any person (like an attorney, a judge, or law enforcement office without your consent) is slander of credit against your straw man. This is a federal criminal securities violation that means prison for them.

Until you redeem your straw man and register his title to you, the living soul, then your straw man becomes the source of the credit for the UNITED STATES to the public affairs of the nation through the “pledge” or gift of your property )your body and energy) to them for their use.

Can You Defend Yourself Against Civil Contempt & Non-Compliance?

kangaroo courtJudges abuse their power daily and the use of civil contempt is one of their greatest weapons. This is not simply because this action is powerful in its own right, but because people do not know how to defend themselves against its limits. If you do not speak up and demand your rights, you lose them. Most people don’t know their rights and most lawyers will not “fight” what the judge wants. This is our legal system today, especially in the kangaroo family courts.

Civil contempt in law today is authorized to compel someone to obey a court order in present tense whether in direct view of the court or indirect view of the court. The difference in regard to child support is the remedy of incarceration. This is intended to compel compliance to the court order, however only if you have the ability to comply and are not doing so. You may be held until you no longer have the ability to pay . When that happens, it is grounds for immediate release. In a civil contempt per the view of U.S. law, the punishment is viewed as a remedy, and for the benefit of the complainant, which can be and often is the court. In the event of criminal contempt, the sentence is punitive, to vindicate the authority of the court. A contempt proceeding is considered to be criminal in nature, with possible penalties that include a jail sentence. Fear is the tool.

Civil contempt is for something that is current that you may purge yourself of, while criminal contempt is seen as a past wrong you have committed. Under the civil contempt you must be provided with the option to purge yourself of the contumacious act. With regard to child support enforcement, most states have built into the statutes that civil contempt  and incarceration is a specific remedy for violation of the court’s order. This is not for the civil debt, but for specifically for the act of “willfully disobeying an order of the court while having the capacity to comply.” Even when the order is unjust, you must comply unless a stay of enforcement is granted, while you are challenging the “unjust” order. (Child Support: A Case Against Arrest)

Proof of Contempt

While the court’s power to punish through contempt is broad, contempt is meant to be exercised rarely and is presumed not to exist in many states, such as Texas. Three elements must be satisfied to prove contempt:

1) a reasonably specific order,

2) a violation of the order, and

3) the willful intent to violate the order.

To be specific enough to support a constructive contempt finding, an order must spell out the details of compliance in clear, unambiguous terms so that a person knows exactly what she must do to comply with it. Some courts have held that an oral order is never sufficiently specific; thus, only a written court order may support a constructive contempt finding. An oral order may support a direct contempt finding, but it must still be clear what the court has ordered the person to do. Finally, the person must be able to comply with the order.

Noncompliance with an unambiguous order of which a person has notice raises the inference that the violation was willful. But a person is in contempt only if he has the ability to comply with the court’s order but chooses not to. A person may not, for example, be jailed for failing to turn over property not in his possession. But for this exception to apply, the inability to comply must be involuntary. If a person puts himself in a position where he is unable to comply with the order, then he may still be held in contempt. Disability and mental capacity can impact the ability to comply.

During the past twenty years, both state and federal courts have examined the issue of whether parents who are seriously delinquent on their child support payments may be jailed for their failure to support their children. Nearly half of the state supreme courts and at least ten of the 11 federal circuit courts of appeals have heard cases concerning criminal penalties for failure to pay child support. As legislators and other policymakers debate the value and appropriateness of criminal sanctions for nonsupport, a review of the court holdings from state supreme courts and high level federal courts offers a legal perspective to the policy discussions in this area. Below, we examine some of the most commonly asked questions and how the courts have answered them.

Q. Why are states and the federal government using criminal penalties for delinquent child support obligors?

A. State and federal laws aimed at criminally penalizing parents for not paying child support are gaining backing for several policy reasons. First, child support experts and state policymakers are detecting fundamental differences among parents who are delinquent in child support – dividing them into “can’t pay” and “won’t pay” parents. While millions of dollars nationwide are being invested into programs to help the very low-income “can’t pay” parents, states are developing more aggressive enforcement tools to pursue the “won’t pay” parents who simply refuse to acknowledge their child support obligation, despite having the financial resources to do so. The increasingly common use of criminal statutes and court contempt orders in child support cases reflects society’s growing frustration with “won’t pay” parents. A recent opinion by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals aptly captured the prevailing judicial sentiment toward parents who evade child support obligations:

“It is just as much a violation of the CSRA [Child Support Recovery Act] for a non-custodial parent to fail to pay child support where his refusal to work is motivated by sloth, a change of lifestyles or pursuit of new career objectives. For most people, bringing children into the world does limit life choices by imposing certain long-term financial obligations.” [U.S. v. Ballek, 1999 WL 125955 (9th Cir. (Alaska), Mar. 11, 1999) (NO. 97-30326)].

State and federal prosecutors are selectively using their state criminal nonsupport laws to target parents who purposely hide assets, avoid employment or otherwise contrive to shirk their child support responsibilities. Some states, such as Kentucky, Ohio and Virginia, have conducted high profile trials and “sting” operations to locate and prosecute parents with large child support debts – in some cases several hundreds of thousands of dollars. Federal prosecutions are also becoming more common as federal officials crack down on wealthy child support obligors in interstate cases. The Inspector General’s Office and the Office of Child Support Enforcement of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, along with the U.S. Department of Justice, created Project Save Our Children (PSOC), “to create a nationwide comprehensive and coordinated health and human services and criminal justice response to unresolved child support enforcement cases.” PSOC investigates and prosecutes high-profile criminal nonsupport cases with interstate circumstances, typically under the Child Support Recovery Act of 1992. By focusing on high-profile cases, PSOC hopes to deliver a strong public message to delinquent obligors who consistently avoid paying child support. Most of the parents arrested and prosecuted by PSOC are wealthy individuals with substantial assets.

Q. Isn’t child support a matter of civil, not criminal, law?

A. Laws concerning child support guidelines and most child support enforcement mechanisms are civil in nature, but failure to pay child support may subject a parent to criminal sanctions in three situations: 1.) prosecution under a state criminal “failure to provide support” statute, 2.) prosecution under the federal Child Support Recovery Act of 1992 (CSRA), or 3.) a finding of contempt of court for failure to obey the court’s child support order.

All states have criminal laws setting felony or misdemeanor penalties for failure to support a child or family. Most of these laws were not specifically written with child support in mind, but were originally intended for parents who abandoned or neglected their children. Classifications of these statutes range from “desertion and nonsupport” (Michigan) to “nonsupport of a child or spouse” (Kansas) to “failure to meet an obligation to provide support to a minor”(West Virginia). Likewise, maximum penalties under these laws vary greatly, from 14 years in prison for a felony conviction in Idaho to six months in prison for a misdemeanor in Rhode Island.

Parents who willfully avoid child support payments for a child in another state and owe the greater of a year’s worth of child support or $5,000 may be prosecuted under the federal Child Support Recovery Act of 1992. When the statute originally was written, the crime was classified as a misdemeanor, and delinquent parents risked a maximum jail term of six months. With the passage of the Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act of 1998, this federal crime was upgraded to a felony and now carries a maximum prison sentence of two years for parents who owe at least $10,000, or are at least two years behind in their child support obligation and possess two contempt citations for failure to obey their child support order. The original offense also was expanded to include delinquent parents who cross state lines to evade child support responsibilities, in addition to those living in different states from the children.

Because child support orders are official court orders – with the same weight as orders such as subpoenas to appear in court – a parent disobeying the terms of the child support order risks a finding of contempt of court. Based on this, a contempt of court order is probably the most common avenue for a delinquent child support obligor to find himself or herself behind bars.

Q. Is contempt of court a civil or criminal violation?

A. Contempt of court orders can be either criminal or civil in nature, and criminal and civil contempt proceedings differ in several regards. Although most states have many laws concerning contempt of court powers, courts do not need explicit statutory authorization for issuing a civil contempt of court order and subsequent penalty for violation of a child support order; this contempt power is typically inherent in the court’s basic authorization to enforce its orders. Civil contempt of court may be punishable by jail time, restitution, or fines. Under a civil contempt order, the person guilty of contempt of court “holds the jailhouse keys” in that he can cure the contempt and gain release from jail by abiding by the order, e.g. by paying the overdue child support. In a civil contempt of court proceeding, the violation of the order must be proven by clear and convincing evidence and the burden of proof may be shifted to the defendant in some circumstances.

Despite carrying a criminal penalty of incarceration, civil contempt of court orders are not classified as criminal actions; criminal contempt is a different matter in several respects. Unlike in a civil contempt situation, under a criminal contempt order, the contemnor does not “hold the keys to the jailhouse door” — he or she cannot shorten the imprisonment period simply by paying the fine or complying with the order. Criminal contempt, rather, is a form of punishment; a penalty imposed and required to be served to its completion. Because of the punitive nature of these orders, they generally are accompanied by many of the same due process requirements as a criminal trial (e.g. right to notice, right to counsel, right to a jury trial, etc.), and criminal contempt powers must be statutorily authorized by the legislature. Finally, in criminal contempt hearings, the government bears the burden of proving the guilt of the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt.

Courts differ in their characterization of contempt orders for failure to pay child support. The lines between civil and criminal contempt are often blurred in failure to pay child support cases, particularly if the court does not explicitly clarify the charge facing the delinquent parent. Michigan’s supreme court decided that even though child support contempt proceedings were statutorily intended to be civil in nature, the proceedings become criminal if the defendant does not have the present ability to pay, and the defendant is then entitled to representation by an attorney [Mead v. Batchlor, 435 Mich. 480, 460 N.W.2d 493 (Mich. 1990)]. New Mexico’s state supreme court ruled that a jail sentence, which is typically considered a criminal punishment, could be imposed in a civil contempt proceeding for failure to pay child support [Niemyjski v. Niemyjski, 98 N.M. 176, 646 P.2d 1240 (N.M. 1982)]. The Supreme Court of Tennessee, however, held that child support contempt was a criminal offense with a criminal penalty; therefore, the obligor could not be incarcerated without a jury trial and a conviction [Brown v. Latham, Walker v. Walker, 914 S.W.2d 887 (Tenn. 1996)].

The issue is further muddled by court decisions that not all child support contempt proceedings classified as criminal are entitled to a jury trial [see International Union, United Mine Workers of America v. Bagwell, 512 U.S. 821 (1994) [jury trial not constitutionally required for criminal contempt proceedings]]. For example, in a criminal prosecution under the CSRA, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decided that a jury trial was not necessary because the restitution penalty was not so severe as to convert the petty offense – a misdemeanor – into a serious one deserving of a jury trial [U.S. v. Ballek, 1999 WL 125955 (9th Cir. (Alaska), Mar. 11, 1999)(NO. 97-30326)].

State supreme court cases suggest that additional limits on the use of the contempt power in the child support context exist. At least one state supreme court has decided that if the delinquent parent proves he is financially unable to “cure” the contempt, the court may not continue the incarceration [Hughes v. Dept. of Human Resources, 269 GA. 587, 502 S.E.2d 233 (Ga. 1998)]. The California supreme court adopted a more narrow reading of this concept, holding that a delinquent parent’s incarceration may continue “when the parent’s financial inability to comply with the order is the result of the parent’s willful failure to seek and accept available employment that is commensurate with his or her skills and abilities” [Moss v. Superior Court, 17 Cal.4th 396, 950 P.2d 59 (Cal. 1998)]. Finally, the Supreme Court of Texas ruled that the contempt order must consist of a written judgment of contempt or written order of commitment before a parent may be incarcerated [Ex parte Strickland, 723 S.W.2d 668 (Tex. 1987)].

The only U.S. Supreme Court case to examine the issue of contempt for failure to pay child support pivoted on this very question of whether the contempt was criminal or civil in nature [Hicks v. Fieock, 485 U.S. 624 (1988)]. The Court held that the California statute in question, which had a legal presumption that the obligated parent was able to pay the required child support, was an unconstitutional violation of the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution if the proceeding was a criminal contempt proceeding. The statute’s legal presumption reduced the burden of proof on the government and transferred that burden to the delinquent parent, which is not permissible in a criminal trial. On the other hand, the Court reasoned, if the statute were being applied in a civil proceeding, the transfer of the burden of proof would be constitutionally valid. Therefore, the Court remanded the case back to the lower court to determine whether the contempt proceedings were civil or criminal in nature. The Supreme Court also offered guidance to the lower court by more clearly delineating some of the characteristics distinguishing civil and criminal contempt orders and outlining examples of both.

Q. Does the child support obligor always have the right to an attorney during contempt proceedings?

A. State courts have reached conflicting conclusions regarding the question of the delinquent obligor’s right to counsel in child support contempt proceedings. Several state supreme courts, including Delaware, Michigan, North Dakota, Texas, and Vermont, have ruled that noncustodial parents facing incarceration for contempt of a child support order have the right to be represented by a lawyer during the contempt proceeding [Black v. Division of Child Support Enforcement, 686 A.2d 164 (Del. 1996)[civil contempt]; Mead v. Batchlor, 435 Mich. 480, 460 N.S.2d 493 (Mich. 1990) [civil contempt]; State v. Gruchalla, 467 N.W.2d 451 (N.D. 1991) [civil contempt]; Ex parte Gunther, 758 S.W.2d 226 (Tex. 1988) [unclear whether civil or criminal]; Choiniere v. Brooks, 163 Vt. 625, 660 A.2d 289 (Vt. 1995) [civil contempt]. The Delaware supreme court specifically found that “the presumption that an indigent defendant has the right to appointed counsel applies when, if he loses, he may be deprived of his personal liberty,” but did not apply if the state sought punishment of something less than incarceration.

Other state supreme courts, including Florida, Missouri, New Mexico and North Carolina, have decided that parents subject to child support civil contempt sanctions are not entitled to legal representation [Andrews v. Walton, 428 So.2d 663 (Fla. 1983); State ex rel. Sterling, 719 S.W.2d 455 (Mo. 1986); State ex rel. Dept. of Human Services v. Rael, 97 N.M. 640, 642 P.2d 1099 (N.M. 1982); Jolly v. Wright, 300 N.C. 83, 265 S.E.2d 135 (N.C. 1980)]. The Florida Supreme Court found that in a situation where the father had the ability to pay the child support but willfully refused to do so, and thus was not indigent, the father’s due process rights were not violated when the trial court ordered incarceration without appointing counsel for him in the civil contempt proceeding.

Even indigent obligors are not necessarily entitled to a lawyer. The North Carolina court ruled that “since the nature of nonsupport civil contempt cases usually is not complex, due process does not require that counsel be automatically appointed for indigents in such cases” and that counsel would only need to be appointed in cases where it was “necessary for an adequate presentation of the merits [of the case], or to otherwise ensure fundamental fairness” [Jolly v. Wright, 300 N.C. 83, 265 S.E.2d 135 (N.C. 1980)].

Proving indigency in order to obtain court-appointed counsel can place the delinquent parent in a potentially self-incriminating position if the he or she is not found to be indigent. If the court rules that the parent is not indigent, that ruling could lend credibility to a charge that the parent had the resources to pay the child support and chose not to. Recognizing this, the Supreme Court of North Dakota required that a father found in contempt for failure to pay child support should have had the opportunity to prove his indigence for purposes of appointment of counsel in private meetings with the judge and lawyers, rather than in open court, since the disclosure of facts relative to proof of his indigence could have been used against him in the contempt proceedings [State v. Gruchalla, 467 N.W.2d 451 (N.D. 1991)].

Even if the defendant is entitled to counsel, he may not be entitled to have the state pay for it. Missouri’s Supreme Court held that the trial court in a civil child support contempt proceeding “could not compel the state to expend public funds by appointment of a public defender to represent the alleged indigent father” [State ex rel. Sterling v. Long, 719 S.W.2d 455 (Mo. 1986)]. Similarly, the Delaware supreme court ruled that the Office of the Public Defender could not be appointed to represent an indigent defendant in criminal contempt proceedings arising out of child support orders [Black v. Division of Child Support Enforcement, 686 A.2d 164 (Del. 1996)].

Q. What if the child support obligor claims that he or she doesn’t have the resources to pay the required child support?

A. Many parents delinquent in their child support payments and subject to contempt citations claim that they are unable to financially meet their support obligations. At least three state supreme courts – California, Oregon, and Texas – have ruled that it is the obligor’s responsibility to raise an inability to pay as a defense, and to prove that inability by a preponderance of the evidence [Moss v. Superior Court, 17 Cal.4th 396, 950 P.2d 59 (Cal. 1998); State ex rel. Mikkelsen v. Hill, 315 Or. 452, 847 P.2d 402 (Or. 1993); Ex parte Roosth, 881 S.W.2d 300 (Tex. 1994)]. It is not, according to the courts, the responsibility of the custodial parent or the state to prove that the noncustodial parent has the financial resources to meet his or her child support obligation. The U.S. Supreme Court, in Fieock, also found that allocating the burden of proof in this manner was constitutional and reasonable in child support contempt proceedings.

Whether or not a parent has the financial ability to comply with the child support order is particularly important in prosecutions under the CSRA, which requires that the parent’s failure to pay support must be “willful” in order to warrant a conviction. In other words, in order to obtain a conviction under this federal law, the government must prove that the parent has the resources to comply and simply chose not to do so. See U.S. v. Mathes, 151 F.3d 251 (5th Cir. 1998); U.S. v. Brand, 163 F.3d 1268 (11th Cir. 1998). The Ballek court examined the CRSA and Congressional legislative history in order to clarify the willfullness requirement and determined that “a noncustodial parent who does not have the funds to satisfy the child support award, and who does not obtain a reduction or remission of the award because of inability to pay, will almost certainly be engaged in willful defiance of the state court’s child support order” [U.S. v. Ballek, 1999 WL 125955, 1999 Daily Journal D.A.R. 2325 (9th Cir. (Alaska), Mar. 11, 1999)(NO. 97-30326)].

Noncustodial parents who truly lack the ability to meet their child support obligations have the right in every state to request a downward modification of their child support order based on a change in circumstances. Also, many states offer parents who cannot meet their obligations and have amassed arrearages the opportunity to negotiate a payment plan and avoid severe sanctions, such as prosecution, revocation of certain licenses, or liens on their property. With these alternatives available, many courts and state agencies are adopting a tougher stance against parents who ignore their child support obligations.

Q. Isn’t it unconstitutional for the court to order a person to work just to pay off a child support debt?

A. Some delinquent parents have argued that requiring an obligor to meet a court-ordered child support obligation, without consideration of his or her current employment status, is unconstitutional because it violates the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on slavery and involuntary servitude or because it creates a criminal penalty for a civil debt. In a recent case, the California state supreme court examined this argument in detail and ruled that enforcement of a child support order did not run afoul of the Thirteenth Amendment’s slavery and involuntary servitude prohibition [Moss v. Superior Court, 17 Cal. 4th 396, 950 P.2d 59 (Cal. 1998)]. Specifically, the court found that “there is no constitutional impediment to imposition of contempt sanctions on a parent for violation of a judicial child support order when the parent’s financial inability to comply with the order is the result of the parent’s willful failure to seek and accept available employment that is commensurate with his or her skills and ability.” In reaching this conclusion, the court distinguished child support from other types of family support and narrowed 100 years of the state’s common law in this area. California’s highest court also reviewed U.S. Supreme Court and U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals cases, Congressional legislative history, the state constitution, and analogous areas of common law in order to reach its holding. Based on this review, the court determined that the crucial element in slavery or involuntary servitude is the requirement that the oppressed person be bound to one employer or one form of employment. Since child support orders do not require the obligor to work for a specific person or in a particular line of work, the court held that enforcement of such orders does not rise to the level or slavery or involuntary servitude. The court also noted that the U.S. Supreme Court has outlined exceptions for the performance of other civil duties, such as jury service, military service, road work, and enforced labor as punishment for a crime, such as work camps.

In March 1999, the Supreme Court for the State of Colorado likewise ruled against a father’s claim that a criminal contempt sanction for failure to pay child support violated the state constitution’s prohibition against imprisonment for debt [In re Marriage of Nussbeck, 1999 WL 112188 (Colo., Mar 01, 1999) (NO. 97SC540)]. In this case, the father argued that because his child support arrearage was converted automatically to a judgment against him under Colorado child support law, he was being imprisoned for a standing debt. The court rejected this argument, holding that the father may be imprisoned for failure to pay child support because the contempt order was predicated on his failure to comply with the order, not on the existence of a judgment against him. The fact that the arrearage converted to a judgment against him, the court stated, was immaterial to the contempt order for noncompliance.

At least one federal circuit court of appeals has also ruled that enforcement of a child support order is not akin to slavery [U.S. v. Ballek, 1999 WL 125955, 1999 Daily Journal D.A.R. 2325 (9th Cir. (Alaska), Mar. 11, 1999)(NO. 97-30326)]. The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals cited three reasons for distinguishing child support enforcement from involuntary servitude and slavery: 1.) “the relationship between parent and child is much more than the ordinary relationship between debtor and creditor”; 2.) “the state’s strong concern for the welfare of minor children is…manifested by the fact that parental obligations at the dissolution of marriage are not left to private agreement”; and 3.) “the state has an interest in protecting the public [funds] by ensuring that the children not become wards of the state.” Furthermore, the court declined to “interpret the Thirteenth Amendment in a way that would so drastically interfere with one of the most important and sensitive exercises of the police power – ensuring that persons too young to take care of themselves can count on both their parents for material support.” This holding illustrates courts’ reluctance to create a constitutional loophole in child support enforcement.

Q. Did Congress have the constitutional authority to enact the Child Support Recovery Act of 1992?

A. Many parents with delinquent child support obligations have challenged Congressional authority to enact the CSRA in the first place, but none have been successful. At least ten of the 11 federal circuit courts of appeal have heard cases of this kind. The most common claim is that Congress exceeded its Constitutional authority when it enacted the CSRA, violating the Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution in the process. All ten U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal rejected this argument and further found that passage of the CSRA was a proper exercise of Congress’ broad authority under the Commerce Clause [U.S. v. Bongiorno, 106 F.3d 1027 (1st Cir. 1997); U.S. v. Sage, 92 F.3d 101 (2nd Cir. 1996); U.S. v. Parker, 108 F.3d 28 (3rd Cir. 1997); U.S. v. Johnson, 114 F.3d 476 (4th Cir. 1997); U.S. v. Bailey, 115 F.3d 1222 (5th Cir. 1997); U.S. v. Black, 125 F.3d 454 (7th Cir. 1997); U.S. v. Crawford, 115 F.3d 1397 (8th Cir. 1997); U.S. v. Mussari, 95 F.3d 787 (9th Cir. 1996); U.S. v. Hampshire, 95 F.3d 999 (10th Cir. 1996); U.S. v. Williams, 121 F.3d 615 (11th Cir. 1997)].

Q. Can parents be prosecuted under the Child Support Recovery Act for any arrearage that accrued before the federal law was enacted in 1992?

A. A few obligor parents have argued that prosecutions under the CSRA for child support arrearages that accrued prior to enactment of the federal law violate the U.S. Constitution’s protection that a person not be found criminally liable for an action that was not criminal when it was committed. These challenges to an ex post facto application of the CSRA have generated limited success in the courts. In at least five of the cases at the federal court of appeals level, the courts ruled that the prosecutions did not violate the ex post facto clause of the U.S. Constitution [U.S. v. Rose, 153 F.3d 208 (5th Cir. 1998); U.S. v. Black, 125 F.3d 454 (7th Cir. 1997); U.S. v. Crawford, 115 F.3d 1397 (8th Cir. 1997); U.S. v. Hampshire, 95 F.3d 999 (10th Cir. 1996); U.S. v. Muench, 153 F.3d 1298 (11th Cir. 1998)] Only the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the defendant that the retroactive application of the CSRA, which subjected the defendant to federal criminal penalties for failure to pay support without differentiating between delinquencies alleged to have occurred before and after the CSRA’s date of enactment, was an unconstitutional ex post facto enforcement of the CSRA [U.S. v. Mussari, 152 F.3d 1156 (9th Cir. 1998). Ex post facto challenges are examined in the context of the circumstances giving rise to the case; therefore, any of these courts, given different circumstances, could rule differently.

Notice: This article is not legal counsel. You will need an attorney and your own wits to supply you with the details of your case.

Creative Commons License
Can You Defend Yourself Against Civil Contempt & Non-Compliance? by E.J. Manning is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://bradleyamendment.wordpress.com.

Contempt of Court: One Line of Thinking

violation of due process and civil rightsCivil contempt sanctions are designed to compel future compliance with a court order. In the eyes of the court, they are coercive and avoidable through obedience, and “thus may be imposed in an ordinary civil proceeding upon notice and an opportunity to be heard. Neither a jury trial nor proof beyond a reasonable doubt is required.” International Union, UMWA v. Bagwell, 512 U.S. 821, 114 S.Ct. 2552, 2557 (1994).

One line of reasoning is that once a civil contempt ruling is made by the judge, that ruling is criminal, which then falls under criminal jurisdiction. In this event, your rights change.

“Criminal contempt is a crime in the ordinary sense” claims Bloom v. Illinois, 391 U.S. 194, 201 (1968), and “criminal penalties may not be imposed on someone who has not been afforded the protections that the Constitution requires of such criminal proceedings.” Hicks v. Feiock, 485 U.S. 624, 632 (1988).

These constitutional protections include the right

(1) not to be subject to double jeopardy, see United States v. Dixon, 509 U.S. 688, 695 (1993); In re Bradley, 318 U.S. 50 (1943);

(2) to receive notice of the charges,

(3) to receive assistance of counsel;

(4) to receive summary process;

(5) to present a defense, Cooke v. United States, 267 U.S. 515, 537 (1925);

(6) not to self-incriminate oneself, and

(7) to proof beyond a reasonable doubt, Gompers v. Bucks Stove & Range Co., 221 U.S. 418, 444 (1911). For serious criminal contempts involving imprisonment of more than six months, these protections include the right to a jury trial. Bloom, 391 U.S. at 199.

One problem is that some judges have ruled that contempt of court is not a serious crime. This outlook continues to overshadow your civil rights. However, it can be argued that since this is not a serious crime, that the punishment does not fit the crime.

Notice: This article is not legal counsel.
You will need an attorney and your own wits
to supply you with the details of your case.

Creative Commons License
Contempt of Court: One Line of Thinking by E.J. Manning is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://bradleyamendment.wordpress.com.

Fair Child Support: The Audacity of Hope

Not a few of us have come to personally wonder, even mourn the loss of our true national identity. The personal identity of Americans is even more challenged. We have come to a place of oppression and circumstances over which we have no control, but we are going to have it all rubbed in our faces by oppressive law and unfettered government application. Mistakes aren’t permitted unless you have influence and a hefty bank account. Justice is bought and sold like a revel at Bourbon Street. It’s cheapened the nation and weakened the fabric of society instead of strengthening it. We are a nation that encourages vile and predatory behaviors which reject the core of what builds and strengthens the strong nations of the past for the rhetoric of despots that seek to wield unlimited power.

But …social conservatives…want a return to a bygone era, in which sexuality outside of marriage was subject to both punishment and shame, obtaining a divorce was far more difficult, and marriage offered not merely personal fulfillment but also well-defined social roles for men and for women. In their view, any government policy that appears to reward or even express neutrality toward what they consider to be immoral behavior whether providing birth control to young people, abortion services to women, welfare support for unwed mothers, or legal recognition of same-sex unions-inherently devalues the marital bond. Such policies take us one step closer, the argument goes, to a brave new world in which gender differences have been erased, sex is purely recreational, marriage is disposable, motherhood is an inconvenience, and civilization itself rests on shifting sands.

In this missive posted in his book Audacity of Hope, Barack Obama pretends to be reasonable by acknowledging the feelings of the opposition. He spends a chapter acknowledging the beauty of the Constitution, while dismissing it for something better, likely because of his status as a attorney that specializes in constitutional law. Instead, he talks around it as if to say, the Constitution is nice to study and a great document to thump on when you want to make a point, but it is a quaint tool of the past. Too bad the nation didn’t read his books before they voted him into office, not that it really matters anyway. John McCain, with ties to banking fraud, wasn’t a better choice, just a different one. Presidents have become cheerleaders of what sounds good while allowing Congress to pass predatory legislation without so much as a wimper. They have become complicit with the criminals that pretend to protect the nation.

Many politicians say that they see life as an issue of sexual behavior instead of the ability to maintain relationships, which government is loathe to do. It reinforces the negative instead of the good. It lies and distorts for the powerful and well-to-do. It favors mothers over fathers based on the timeworn models that it seeks to reject through the politics of empowerment. It has transferred this evil to divorced or rejected non-custodial parents. They are simply work horses that will sustain the children of the state as the elite look after their own interests.

“But all in all, I have little sympathy for those who would enlist the government in the task of enforcing sexual morality. Like most Americans, I consider decisions about sex, marriage, divorce, and childbearing to be highly personal-at the very core of our system of individual liberty. Where such personal decisions raise the prospect of significant harm to others-as is true with child abuse, incest, bigamy, domestic violence, or failure to pay child support-society has a right and duty to step in. (Those who believe in the personhood of the fetus would put abortion in this category.) Beyond that, I have no interest in seeing the president, Congress, or a government bureaucracy regulating what goes on in America’s bedrooms.

Moreover, I don’t believe we strengthen the family by bullying or coercing people into the relationships we think are best for them-or by punishing those who fail to meet our standards of sexual propriety. I want to encourage young people to show more reverence toward sex and intimacy, and I applaud parents, congregations, and community programs that transmit that message. But I’m not willing to consign a teenage girl to a lifetime of struggle because of lack of access to birth control. I want couples to understand the value of commitment and the sacrifices marriage entails. But I’m not willing to use the force of law to keep couples together regardless of their personal circumstances.” – (Audacity of Hope, Barack Obama, page 335)

No Mr. Obama, instead we bully them after the fact with law that only the most wealthy can manage. In the article “Deviance and Society in Child Support Law,” I detail how behavior has been stigmatized and grouped into types of addicted behavior. Politics ignores the truth about its’ role in the process as it seeks the “common good,” pretending to be above all matters of humanity. It treats single mothers and their children as wards of the state and celebrates its’ role in the matter. It treats fathers as workhorses, slaves which must forever pay for the mistakes of the relationship without due process and the standards that built the nation. Remember that these standards only apply to criminal law. The possibility of innocence only applies to criminals, but not to the non-custodial parent of children that the  government owns.

Family law has carefully been maintained as civil law, the law of lying ex-spouses and courthouse escapades, even though the non-custodial behavior has been criminalized in a world without the assurance of justice on any level. Judges can’t stand the irreverent carping of the ‘human trash’ they serve. Government has sanctioned the same predatory behavior in families and relationships that it holds as precious in its worldview of control. Manipulation has become the reality of all relationships, while soft words such a diversity and peace are espoused. They sell the virtues of sacrifice without possessing that virtue. Diversity and peace are the watchwords of society, as that society is gripped by social engineers that claim “common good.” We don’t need society. Government is the holder of punishment and shame.

You know the solution. Be a good slave, stay employed at all costs in the name of fear and don’t make waves- or face the consequences. Economics don’t matter, nor does unemployment. Good men and women know what they have to do. Playing into the system isn’t necessarily the best answer. Otherwise, there isn’t even the audacity of hope, the kind of hope that President Obama claims to live by.

Creative Commons License
Fair Child Support: The Audacity of Hope by E.J. Manning is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://bradleyamendment.wordpress.com.

Tag Cloud