With some experience in courts and commercial litigation, I must confess that my heart always sinks when I hear of a defendant who has set up his or her own country (in documents, I have seen such “countries” variously described as “principalities”, “sovereign states” or even “palatinates”).
Usually defendants who take such measures are resisting repossession of a house or trying to argue that they don’t have to pay Federal or State taxes. Of course, they are unrepresented litigants (ie, litigants in person). Often they’ve written to the UN for confirmation of sovereign nation status. Invariably, they claim rights pursuant to the Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights and various other miscellaneous documents. Often they say that the Constitution was not validly enacted. There’s usually a bit about Freemasons thrown in. (In an idle moment of curiosity, I once considered ringing the Freemasons to find out what they thought about being the bugbear of litigants in person.)
I’ve written posts about litigants in person before. The tragedy is that litigants in person who adopt these kind of conspiracy theories often let it consume their life. They waste their own time, but also the time of the Court and the time of lawyers. I never heard that any litigant in person who ran a Masonic conspiracy argument or a Magna Carta argument was successful in any way. It’s desperation stuff, but they push it nonetheless. Sometimes they end up in gaol on charges of contempt of court.
The sovereign state invented by litigants in person usually lacks sophistication. However, it seems that some have more resources than others. A report in Yahoo News said:
Two men who set up their own sovereign state in a Queensland suburb and made up their own currency to pay bills have been ordered by a court to stop operating as a bank.
In the Federal Court in Brisbane, Donald James Cameron and Darryl John Wheeley, who operate from the southside suburb of Moorooka, were ordered to stop operating their unauthorised financial business – the Federal State Bank of Australia – as a bank after an application made by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA).
Evidence to the court said the men made fake currency and cheques valued at more than $500,000 and used it to pay bills including rent, mortgage repayments, phone bills and legal fees.
The currency was created under the authority of their own so-called Independent Sovereign State of Australia, of which Cameron is the self-styled attorney-general and chief justice. He also calls himself the archbishop of the Church of Love and Peace.
All very funny – until you think about the small businesspeople who were ripped off by these guys when they tried to cash “cheques” and “bank notes”. Not much love and peace being generated there…