If this story doesn’t wake you up to whom your real enemy is NOTHING WILL.
An Ugly Persistence Of Corruption
…the particulars of which should have every American rising in alarm.
CAN AMERICANS BE REQUIRED TO ATTEST BELIEF in what a government official declares to be true? This is exactly what a federal judge in Detroit says, in a ruling issued just last week…
On January 16, 2018, federal District Court Judge Victoria Roberts refused to vacate a criminal contempt of court conviction of Doreen Hendrickson over Doreen’s refusal to state under oath things dictated to her by government agents, and which she does not believe to be true. Roberts’ denial asserts that an American can be compelled to swear that she believes true– without disclaimer or qualification– whatever a government official says is “correct”.
HERE’S THE BACKSTORY: In 2007, at the request of DOJ Tax Division attorneys, another federal judge (Nancy Edmunds) had ordered the Michigan mother of two to declare that she believes certain payments made to her and her husband qualify as “income” subject to the income tax, even though she does not believe the particular earnings qualify, and had already said so under oath. The order commanded Doreen to produce “amended returns” on which she was to declare the earnings as “income”, and to sign the jurat so as to make the form, its dictated contents and her attestation of belief falsely appear to be her own freely-made testimony.
However, a tax return jurat is a statement attesting that what one has said on the form above it is what the signer believes to be true, correct and complete:
“Under penalties of perjury, I declare that I have examined this return and accompanying schedules and statements, and to the best of my knowledge and belief, they are true, correct, and complete.”
Tax return jurat (emphasis added)
To produce a tax return and sign the jurat without qualification when the content of the return is not what the signer believes to be true is a felony, under 26 U.S.C. § 7206(1). It is also a felony to attempt to cause someone else to produce and sign a return the contents of which are not believed to be true by the signer (under 26 U.S.C. § 7206(2)).
These laws are the substance of the October, 2017 Motion to Vacate Doreen’s conviction: A court cannot have jurisdiction conferred upon it by a government request that it commit a felony (as well as none to issue and enforce an order which Congress– not to mention the First Amendment– has expressly prohibited).
See the very short and plain motion here; the government response here; and the even shorter reply here. Please take the time to read all three. They really are very concise and, at least in the case of the motion and reply, very straightforward.
And yet, in her January 16, 2018 denial of Doreen Hendrickson’s October 10, 2017 Motion to Vacate her conviction, the trial judge who has twice now sentenced Doreen to prison says that the order Doreen has been punished for resisting, and is about to be punished again, simply commands her to “correct” her returns. The judge contends that Doreen is not being ordered to say she believes what she does not (and thus, to create false returns), but is simply being ordered to say “what is correct”.
According to Judge Roberts’ formulation a sworn statement should be understood to say,
“Under penalties of perjury, I declare that I have examined this return and accompanying schedules and statements, and to the best of my knowledge and belief of the opinion of government officials, they are true, correct, and complete.”
This construction attempts to remove Doreen’s beliefs (and right to control her expressions) entirely from the picture, and makes nonsense out of the language of every perjury statute (including the ones specifically criminalizing the making or soliciting of “false returns”). In fact, it is just a fallacious tautology, and utterly fails to excuse Roberts’ denial of Doreen’s motion.
Under Roberts’ formulation the meaning of the attestation simply takes a step back, becoming an affirmation of what the signer believes about what others have said. Of course, the Supreme Court has expressly said such a construction is unconstitutional, time and again:
“[W]e cannot improve upon what Justice Jackson wrote for the Court 70 years ago: “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.” Barnette, 319 U. S., at 642.”
Agency for Int’l Development v. Alliance for Open Society Int’l, Inc., 133 S. Ct. 2321 (2013) (Emphasis added.)
Doreen can’t be made to adopt as her own a belief about what is true or “correct” held or advocated by anyone else, no matter how high an official might be its advocate.
Further, it wouldn’t solve Roberts’ problem. Even under that formulation, punishing Doreen for not saying what she is told to say on her tax returns remains a crime, because what she believes government officials have said about the tax is exactly what is reflected on her original returns.
Were Doreen to create “amended returns” saying what she is ordered to say, she would be swearing not only to what she believes to be false. She would also be swearing to what she (knows and) believes government officials at the highest and most authoritative levels have made clear is false in their opinions as well.
Or perhaps Roberts means that whatever is said over Nancy Edmunds signature stamp is “correct”? Still no cigar for Roberts.
We can leave aside the First Amendment issue, and the conflict between what Edmunds’ order tells Doreen to say and what she knows a far more substantive body of authorities has made perfectly clear to the contrary. The jurat still calls for affirmation of only what Doreen herself believes to be true, not what she believes some judge has declared to be “correct”.
For Doreen to say she believes correct what she is told to say just because Judge Edmunds has said it would still be a lie. The coerced returns would still therefore be false returns.
BUT THE “WHAT EDMUNDS SAYS IS “CORRECT”” THING has other fatal problems, and they are very much worth getting into. You see, what Edmunds says is actually just a re-iteration of some things supposedly said by some IRS officials.
In fact, those officials never really said these things. Indeed, throughout more than ten years of legal actions, government officials have adamantly refused to ever declare their own belief in the “correctness” of what Doreen is ordered to say– even while being legally obliged to do so, if they actually hold the belief.
Instead, those officials have repeatedly made clear that they DO NOT believe what Doreen was ordered to say by Nancy Edmunds (and have, in fact, indicated their agreement with what Doreen believes hundreds of thousands of times). Here is what lies in the dark corners of the Edmunds orders:
Edmunds’ orders appear in a “final ruling” which bore her signature stamp, but was actually written entirely by someone else. Edmunds had never actually examined or heard from a single witness, even though all allegations made in the case were in dispute. Nor had Edmunds (or the DOJ author of the orders) any personal knowledge about the truth or “correctness” of what Doreen was commanded to declare over her sworn signature.
The sole pretense of an “official” belief in the truth or “correctness” of what Doreen was ordered to say is an unsigned, admittedly UN-official declaration of an anonymous purported IRS worker. There has never been anything more, even through years of civil litigation, and two criminal trials and subsequent proceedings over the course of four and a half years.
This reliance on this empty pretense is by itself a plain indication that no official can be found who WOULD sign off on a declaration of even an opinion that what is said in the declaration is true. As the Supreme Court (and sandbox common-sense) tell us:
“Indeed, as Mr. Justice Brandeis declared, speaking for a unanimous court in the Tod case, supra, which involved a deportation: “Silence is often evidence of the most persuasive character.” 263 U.S. at 263 U. S. 153-154. And just last Term, in Hale, supra, the Court recognized that “[f]ailure to contest an assertion . . . is considered evidence of acquiescence . . . if it would have been natural under the circumstances to object to the assertion in question.” 422 U.S. at 422 U. S. 176. [footnote 3].”
Per this obvious logic, the government’s reliance on an anonymously-prepared, unsigned and declaredly “informal” assertion of what Doreen is commanded to say she believes true when “it would have been natural under the circumstances” to provide a forthrightly-acknowledged and signed assertion– as is done routinely by the IRS on doubtless a daily basis– is “evidence of the most persuasive character” as well. It is evidence that the government itself is unwilling to aver what it wants Doreen to be forced to say.
Further, the government is under an express statutory requirement to produce returns of its own if it really believes Doreen’s original returns were “incorrect”. It has never done this– a fact that led to actual lies to the jury about that statute by judge and prosecutor in Doreen’s second trial. (Amazing as it may seem, this was far from the most egregious offense by this pair in the effort to engineer a conviction in that trial. See, for instance, the fraudulent evidence ploy documented here.)
IN FACT, OFFICIAL DECEITS AND EVASIONS were the persistent characteristic of all the events involved in this case. Some of those committed by Nancy Edmunds have already been discussed; here’s another, which makes clear that the “ruling” containing “the Edmunds declaration of what is correct” is simply fraudulent:
The “ruling” contains “findings” about the content of CtC, and the other order it makes to Doreen rests on declarations about the content of CtC. But Edmunds never actually read the book, while also having never examined any witness who HAD read the book, as previously noted.
Edmunds was, therefore, incapable of honestly making any such “findings” or declarations. She simply signature-stamped a false “ruling”, which then pretends to be a judicial product while really being no such thing.
The whole thing is therefore of a piece– a demonstrably-false “ruling” pretending to say what is officially-deemed “correct” about Doreen’s returns but which really only asserts what no official is willing to say he or she believes to be correct, and is instead just the dreck from that unsigned, declaredly informal “report” by an anonymous purported IRS worker.
SO, THAT BACKGROUND establishes the utter impropriety and inherent illegality of the “file amended returns” order made to Doreen generally. But let’s look more closely at the pernicious little plague virus living in Victoria Roberts denial of Doreen’s motion to vacate, with which this discussion began.
First of all, let’s dispose of the pretense of judicial character in the denial. After conceding the fact that the motion to vacate is not, in fact, procedurally-barred, which was the sole argument made by those purporting to speak for the United States, Roberts then resorts to a complete misrepresentation of the motion’s arguments in her scramble to justify a denial.
To cite one soft-ball example, the ruling says, on page 5, “Moreover, Hendrickson has not cited a single case supporting her proposition that a court cannot order a party to file tax returns.”
But of course, the motion contains no “proposition that a court cannot order a party to file tax returns.” What it contains is the proposition that a court cannot order a party to file false tax returns.
This actual proposition is one against which the ruling has nothing to say. Instead it relies on repeatedly trying to dodge the point by saying that Doreen was ordered to file “correct” returns, while leaving out the key point that in the context of 26 U.S.C. § 7206(2), it is exclusively Doreen’s beliefs that determine the “correctness” of any return she signs.
At no point throughout is it said that a court can order someone to produce and sign tax returns containing content the signer does not believe true (just as has never been said by ANY court). Nor is there any effort to dispute or argue about what Doreen believes (at least we are spared THAT kind of absurdity). Thus, the actual elephant sitting in the center of the motion is studiously danced around and never addressed.
HERE’S ANOTHER EXAMPLE, also from page 5: “Nor has [Hendrickson] cited any case supporting her argument that the court commits a felony when it orders a party to file tax returns, despite that party’s belief that she is exempt from filing.”
Where does the word “exempt” even appear in Doreen’s motion? (Answer: it does not; nor is it possible to construe an “exempt” argument from what is said.)
AGAIN: “her argument” is that the court commits a felony when it orders a party to file false tax returns.” AGAIN: At no point throughout does Roberts say that a court can order someone to produce and sign tax returns containing content the signer does not believe true; instead we just get these childish dodges, one after another.
Roberts’ ruling (“Order”) can be seen here (and again, the motion is here; the government response here; and the reply is here). I will leave identification and analysis of the other dodges, misrepresentations and evasions upon which it relies to the readers, and will welcome submissions of such analyses by those of a legal and/or logical turn of mind.
FOR PURPOSES OF THIS DISCUSSION, the contrivances by which Roberts’ opinion is rationalized are not as important as the implications of that opinion. One way or another (or all) of the following, and likely more which have eluded me so far, Roberts’ opinion proposes that:
The only belief to which someone is allowed to adhere is what a state official says she can; or
The “correct” belief is what a judge says is true (and others can be made not just to abide by the effects of that assertion, but also made to declare agreement with it– which means prevented from expressing disagreement); or
The disapproval of a government official for the expressed belief on a sworn statement invalidates the statement; and, of course,
A government official can compel an American to lie on a tax return, and that tax return is not false; which raises this only-a-bit whimsical query:
Can a government official ever create a false tax return? For instance, could Nancy Edmunds lie on a tax return but be immune from prosecution for a false return, because she deems it “correct”? Even if the IRS refuses to agree with her, as in Doreen’s case?
How about Edmunds’ husband? Can she immunize him from charges for lying on his return, by deeming it “correct”?
How does all that grab you? Feel like your liberties are secure with this gibberish and lawlessness spewing forth from your federal courts?
Raise your voices.
“Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.”
-John Stuart Mill