[Homestead] Our digital trail - "Orwellian future"
bobford79 at yahoo.com
Mon Dec 1 10:22:18 EST 2008
I just ran across this article. This man, while most of us might find him a bit nutty is worth much more than a letter writer or a demonstrator.
I'll give you an example. Take a million person march on D.C. Sure the Wash Post and the NYT and their colleagues would be there to 'report' on all of the brave souls, give it front page coverage, 'run 24/7 on cable news, with silly celebrities at the podium. But, in afew weeks it would be forgotten, and what would it have accomplished ?
Now, take that same number (one million or whatever) of people, spread them out across the fifty states, all fighting their charges in court. Traffic tickets, tickets for selling raw milk, public drunkenness, marijuana possession; whatever; a million people clogging the courts nationwide, would almost shut down the 'state'. And everyone wouldn't have to plan to be at the same place , at the same time, for two days.
This man will end up in jail, and is already forgotten because most never heard in the first place. Why he is fighting the state isn't imporatant; 'the way' he is fighting the state is the lesson, in my opinion
Nacogdoches man ready to go to jail over his traffic tickets
A battle for 'personal liberty'
By MATTHEW STOFF
The Daily Sentinel
Sunday, November 30, 2008
With his legal documents neatly typed and ready since 1999, Eddie Craig is just waiting to be arrested.
A local business owner with no formal legal training, Craig has studied the law on his own for 15 years, preparing arguments for his case, a rebellion against tyranny and injustice that began earlier this month in municipal court.
At 44, Craig has no driver's license, but still drives a blue 1991 Ford Crown Victoria, which has no license plates, no registration, no insurance and a broken brake light. For these reasons, Nacogdoches police officers issued Craig ordinary citations in December 2007 and again in January of this year.
But Craig's case is anything but ordinary. Instead of paying his tickets — about $910 in fines for the first one — Craig filed a lengthy affidavit in municipal court denying that any crime had been committed and challenging the standing of the court to prosecute him. There, and in subsequent filings, all researched and authored on his own, Craig cited legal sources like the Magna Carta, the state constitutions of Texas and Arizona and countless subsections of state law and administrative code, all of which he believes supports his case.
Craig objects to nearly every facet of the justice system, from the lack of court reporters in the municipal court, to summonses delivered by mail instead of by hand, to judges whose salaries are paid by the city — an unconscionable conflict of interest, Craig says. But Craig's case really hinges on his worry that government has strayed too far from its original purpose, assuming powers it was never supposed to exact over citizens of a free republic.
"I am trying to be left alone," Craig said. "I want the right to travel from place to place without harassment. I want the right to use my property for its intended purpose without harassment. I want my right to not have to pay fees to anyone for the right to use my property. It's really that simple. We can't be a nation of free people if we're not really free."
ARGUING THE LAW
Explaining his position, Craig shifts his tone rapidly, espousing philosophical platitudes one moment and pedantic readings of the law the next. His most grounded legal theory centers around the principle of "corpus delicti," a Latin phrase meaning "body of the crime."
Citing old Supreme Court rulings invoking the phrase, Craig says that the government must prove that he intended to commit harm in order to convict him. "I'm not accused of harming anyone. Therefore the state has no standing to bring the case," he said.
But Ron Beal, a professor of law at Baylor University, who studies Texas administrative law, disagrees.
"All corpus delicti means in modern times is that you must prove that he actually committed the crime, not that there was a harm," he said. "We don't have to show that because he didn't have a license he crashed into people. We just have to show that he committed the crime, which has been designated by the state as harm."
Craig does not find this point of view convincing. To him, the driver's license amounts to nothing more than a tax, with no grounding in public safety. "How does a piece of plastic in your pocket protect me?" he said.
Tom Vinger, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety, which issues the state driver's licenses, offered multiple answers to Craig's question. "If you have a driver's license, that means you've been through some form of skills testing and also have knowledge of the rules of the road. And, of course, if you have a driver's license, it's easier to get insurance, which is absolutely critical," he said. And, Vinger noted, the rules of the road are codified in state law.
Perhaps predictably, Craig disagrees. Beginning with the premise that no free man has authority over any other free man, Craig concludes that the lawmakers also lack the authority to require licenses, insurance or license plates.
"The legislature is one of limited powers delegated by the people," Craig said. "If the people do not have that authority individually, they cannot delegate it to their representatives. That would be asinine."
Beal said, however, that such power does exist, explicitly conferred by the Texas and federal constitutions. "Simply put, if the Legislature decides that it's in the public welfare for people not to drive cars without a license, then that is a final determination by the government. If we don't like it, we have to vote everybody out who was in favor of that and elect people who will take that law away," he said. "When we approved our constitution, we gave the Legislature the police power to regulate us to the degree that we'll tolerate, or we'll vote them out of office."
But Beal's reading of the law is unlikely to deter Craig, who simply rejects the right of the Legislature to rule "by fiat or say so."
When Nacogdoches' Municipal Judge Juanita Springer denied Craig's motion to dismiss the case and set a trial date for Nov. 17, Craig didn't show up. Instead, he is waiting for the police to act on the newly-minted warrant for his arrest.
"When they proceed on it, then the judge is acting on her own authority, as will be the police officer, and the city will get sued," Craig said.
A STAND FOR IDEALS
As he resists the intrusion of government in his life, Craig has emerged as an unlikely kind of agent provocateur, calculating moves he believes will goad the state into acting illegally.
"My purpose here is to get the court to do exactly what they've done, which is violate my rights, violate the law and commit a crime, which they've done in spades," Craig said. "I have looked at this just like it was a game of chess. Here's what the law says they have to do, and everywhere they were supposed to do it and did not, they lost a chess piece."
Springer, who heard Craig's arguments and was unmoved, invited him to appeal her decision to a higher court.
"His motions were not based on any laws that are in place," she said. "He just was arguing that we had not authority to do certain things that we do have the authority to do."
In her time on the bench, Springer has never heard any arguments like Craig's. She said most people just pay their tickets.
Craig acknowledges that he's making a lot of work for himself. But he has pored over arcane legal texts for more than a decade preparing for this crusade against injustice, and the threat of arrest is no hindrance.
"I became interested because one year I watched the county of Nacogdoches threaten my mom and step-dad with foreclosure on their property for back taxes. For years, I've watched all kinds of law enforcement officers write tickets for no crimes whatsoever, just to take money. And I have gone to court before and watched them railroad people through with no opportunity to defend, no opportunity to do anything other than just pay up or go to jail. That's wrong."
Craig also admits that his fight is an uphill battle. Deep down, he said, he believes he can win his case, set a precedent and earn his "personal liberty." But he's wary of the possibility that some higher court will issue a gag order, keeping his winning legal opinion out of the public's view and the flow of money steadily flowing into state coffers.
"I won't know 'til I get there," Craig said.
Eddie Craig's fight against the power of government is, of course, only the latest in a long history of civil actions, protests, nation building and wars based on the principles of freedom and justice.
Though he never mentioned any connection to the group, Craig's own brand of rebellion most closely resembles the tactics of the Republic of Texas, a band of radicals, which rejected the 1845 annexation of Texas by the United States. By invoking sections of international law and rules governing treaties, the Republic of Texas questioned the validity of Texas' statehood and denied that federal laws were valid here. Leaders of the group were jailed in 1997 after they took two "occupiers" hostage and held them captive at their "embassy."
And while Craig has never demonstrated any propensity for violence, his pugnacious questioning of the law has inspired at least one other man to follow his lead rejecting laws usually embraced by most.
Last year, Michael Sullivan of Pollock filed his own self-authored motion for dismissal for charges that came after he mailed his driver's license back to the Department of Public Safety in protest. After some research, Sullivan found that the Nacogdoches county attorney, Jefferson Davis, had not properly filed his oath of office with the county clerk, which, Sullivan claims, invalidates all his official actions. He is still waiting to hear what will happen in his case.
The volume of reading and hours of work, plus the risk of jail, make it unlikely for most citizens to begin rejecting their traffic tickets on deep, ideological grounds. But if more are inspired to challenge the assumptions of law and society, Craig said it will be a victory for the people, whether the government wins or not.
"It's the people's responsibility to hold them accountable, which is exactly what I'm trying to do."
--- On Mon, 12/1/08, Lynn Wigglesworth <lynnw1366 at hotmail.com> wrote:
> From: Lynn Wigglesworth <lynnw1366 at hotmail.com>
> Subject: Re: [Homestead] Our digital trail - "Orwellian future"
> To: homestead at lists.ibiblio.org
> Date: Monday, December 1, 2008, 6:59 AM
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