« Ind. Decisions - Court of Appeals issues 2 opinion(s) today (and 7 NFP memorandum decision(s)) | Main | Courts - "Federal Court Basically Says It's Okay To Copyright Parts Of Our Laws" »

Friday, February 03, 2017

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit decides two Indiana cases today

In John Jones Bey v. State of Indiana (SD Ind., Pratt), a 5-page opinion, Judge Posner writes:

John Jones Bey, who describes himself as an “Aboriginal Indigenous Moorish-American,” filed in the district court what he labeled a “Writ of Mandamus,” seeking to enjoin state and county officials from taxing real estate that he owns in Marion County, Indiana. He also asked that the defendant officials be ordered to refund the taxes that he’d paid and to compensate him for their alleged wrongs. He asked the district court to award him $11.5 billion. The court refused, and granted the defendants’ motions to dismiss, precipitating this appeal.

Bey says he’s a “sovereign citizen” and therefore can’t lawfully be taxed by Indiana or its subdivisions in the absence of a contract between them and him. We have repeatedly rejected such claims. We do so in this case as well, and thus affirm the district court. [ILB: cites omitted] * * *

But we want to take this opportunity to examine the rights asserted, in this as in the other cases we’ve cited, by persons describing themselves as sovereign citizens by virtue of their alleged Moorish origin. Most of them are African Americans who belong to the Moorish Science Temple of America (MSTA) and claim to be descendants of the Moors of northern Africa, though they are not; Moors are of mixed Berber and Arab descent rather than being African American in the usual sense of being descended from black Africans. * * *

Although we have discussed the MSTA at some length, our aim was to introduce readers who may not be familiar with the “sovereign citizen” movement to its principal institutional establishment. We do not mean to task the district judges of this circuit with having to delve into the history of every particular organization involved in every case before them. Often the organization either played no significant role in the events leading up to the case or if it did, nevertheless it was an organization already well known to the court. The unusual feature of this case is that the sovereign-citizen movement and its institutions, such as MSTA, are at once sources of difficult litigation and not well known outside the sovereign-citizen movement.

The judgment of the district court is affirmed.

In USA v. Abel Covarrubias (SD Ind., Pratt), a 6-page, per curiam opinion, the Court writes:
Abel Covarrubias was convicted by a jury of possessing with intent to distribute 50 grams or more of methamphetamine, and conspiring to commit this crime. On appeal he challenges the denial of his motion to suppress drugs found in a car being delivered to him from across the country. We affirm the judgment because the district court correctly decided that Covarrubias lacked standing to contest the admission of the drugs into evidence. * * *

Covarrubias’s argument is irrelevant because he did not have any expectation of privacy in the car once the car hauler received it. See Crowder, 588 F.3d at 934. In any event his post-Miranda statements to law enforcement are admissible because substantial evidence demonstrates that he understands and speaks English: five law enforcement officers and a paramedic testified that he understands and speaks English, he declined an interpreter when he was arrested, and he sent text messages from his cell phone in English.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 3, 2017 01:53 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions