Coercive monopolization on the production of arbitration services is a hallmark recipe for tyranny. Without competition amongst varying and overlapping jurisdictions, the provision of dispute resolution becomes immune from accountability. Not only is this monopoly’s customer service just plain lousy, but it also fails to satisfy market demand for adjudication by saddling the losing party with the court costs.
Many individuals, even those who adhere to mainstream American culture, greatly dislike the hassle of litigation, yet they are unable to comprehend the legalese used by bar attorneys. Marc Stevens tries to explain its prolific use:
“When going to any court, you enter what I call ‘Legal Land.’ ‘Legal Land’ is very similar to Alice’s Wonderland. It’s where words and phrases mean whatever a ‘judge’ or other lawyer thinks they should mean. This is a fantasy world where theft and violence is O.K. if you have a badge or a fancy political title. It’s a magical world where facts are opinions and opinions are facts. ‘Legal Land’ is where facts spontaneously become opinions and then turn back to facts. It’s an enchanting place where slavery is freedom and submission to degrading and humiliating searches is a ‘patriotic duty.’ ‘Legal Land’ is also where there are millions of ever-changing incomprehensible rules, but not one of them that’s binding on the individuals who make up those rules and force them on others.”
Based upon Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Stevens’ analogy of Legal Land points out the arbitrary and capricious nature of modern American jurisprudence. Through the lens of this analogy, Stevens describes the reality of a traffic stop:
“A typical ‘traffic stop’ involves a man dressed up like a ‘cop’ committing numerous crimes against his victim. I mean crimes in the lay or laymen’s sense of the word, not in the so-called ‘legal’ sense. These are not considered to be crimes because, in ‘Legal Land,’ it’s not false imprisonment, it’s called an ‘investigative detention’ or some equally inane political label. Nothing has changed except the label or opinion that’s been added to it. The political or statist ‘Legal Land’ words cover up the real issue and distort reality. That reality is someone is taking my property through physical violence, threats, and organized coercion.”
This lays down the ideological perspective for the rest of the book, for I think it is plain to see that Stevens understands the violence inherent in the system. By extolling the virtues of liberty while rebuking the evils of the State, the author is interested in getting his readers to see through the fog of illusion, as it were.
When it comes right down to methodology, however, is where Stevens goes for a ride on the wild side (as if his political philosophy wasn’t radical enough for many American Patriots). He suggests that:
“If a ‘judge’ snaps he has ‘jurisdiction’ over me, then I don’t tell him he is wrong; as will be shown below, that’s an opinion the ‘judge’ can deny. It’s far more effective to just ask him to explain factually, where, when, why and how his so-called ‘jurisdiction’ over me was acquired. I want to know where, when, why and how it happened so I can possibly avoid it. I put the burden where it belongs, on the unproductive individuals seeking to forcibly take my productive time. I call this Zen and the Art of Litigation. I am no longer the opponent, it’s pitting the bureaucrat against himself. There is no fighting, arguing, or other resistance, just asking for the facts and watching a bureaucrat’s confidence collapse along with his pretended case. He may still be violent, but his confidence is declining steadily. It could probably be a mathematical formula, where a bureaucrat’s confidence drops, his level of anger and violence rises.”
“The point is, arguments and opinions can be denied and now the bureaucrats can say they have been responsive, they just disagree with me. In ‘Legal Land,’ this is enough to satisfy so-called ‘due process’ requirements, or what is more accurately termed the pretense of justice and fairness. So, if I have to put forth an opinion or an argument, I just use one the ‘judge’ and the ‘cop’ have used. I send it right back at them as a question. Feed their testimony back to them in question form and then sit back and watch it all fall apart.”
Although this may work occasionally during litigation, I think solely relying on it to carry you through to an acquittal is naïve, to say the least. Stevens is assuming that:
“The beauty, the Achilles heel of this entire scam is that because these phony ‘trials’ are so idiotic and contradictory, they can very easily be exposed for what they are. A ‘judge’ always ‘sacrifices’ one of the two ways by which he operates: either the physical violence behind all their actions or their pretense of fairness and good faith. It’s one or the other.”
By demonstrating the contradictory nature of the entire legal proceedings themselves, Stevens appears to think that dismissals, acquittals & nolle prosequi are much more likely to occur if you simply point out the disingenuous bad faith on the judge’s part in a certain way. While certainly an interesting thought, I would first prefer to see some evidence of that actually working before I put any credible stock in it, considering that any lack of effectiveness could incur serious legal consequences for anyone who uses it.
Why is Stevens so antagonistic towards the courts? Perhaps it would be better if he just told you himself:
“It follows that a so-called ‘law’ is just the ‘written will’ of men and women. We should not forget this ‘written will’ differs from mine in that I don’t force my ‘written will’ on anyone under the pretense of ‘protection’ and most assuredly not at the barrel of a gun. Does the ‘law’ seem as sacred to you now? Don’t confuse a political ‘law’ with a natural law such as the law of gravity. The law of gravity is not the intervention or whim of man; it’s an observation. Just as important, when was the last time you were forced by another person to comply with the law of gravity? And why is that? Amazing, the earth rotates on its axis everyday without a sacred ‘act of congress’.”
Obviously, Stevens doesn’t place much faith in the American system of government, as it is today. Quite frankly, with descriptions like these, I don’t blame him:
“Going to court is less intimidating if you remember the ‘judge,’ contrary to what ‘cops’ may believe, is only a lawyer wearing a black robe and sitting four or more feet off the floor…[t]he ‘cop,’ on the other hand, is just a man with a gun who, more often than not, blindly follows orders for a paycheck…no ‘cop’ has ever accused me of breaching a contract or causing any actual or pretended damage…this helps to conceal what is really going on, not only from you, but from the ‘judge’s partner in crime, the loyal ‘cop’ as well.”
This is rather interesting, for Stevens here is suggesting that the Standing Army is being systematically manipulated by bar attorneys! During his rant about judges, Stevens says:
“This lawyer with a robe is a cruel one-man show. He represents both the plaintiff and the defendant while pretending to be independent and impartial. No one else really needs to show up to put on a ‘trial’ because he does it all. It’s a no-win situation: if he doesn’t represent the plaintiff then he cannot claim to be authorized by the ‘constitution’ without contradicting himself. If he does represent the plaintiff, then the conflict of interest and lack of impartiality is self-evident. In other words, the ‘judge’ is the ringmaster of a very bad dog and pony show designed to put forth an illusion of justice.”
Such a harsh characterization is, I think, aimed at showing just how hypocritical judges are in their application of the law. If anything, this inherent conflict of interest highlights the failure of the government monopoly on the law to provide impartial justice.
Interestingly enough, Stevens abhors reformism while also embracing agorism. He says:
“What if they passed a ‘law’ that rocks were now apples? Would you take a big bite of a block of granite? Shouldn’t we respect and comply with all ‘laws,’ at least until they are declared ‘unconstitutional’ by the courts or ‘repealed’ by the ‘legislature?’ Before you think these are absurd examples, consider the fact that a ‘legislature’ in the South, I believe it was Alabama, passed a ‘law’ forbidding a river from rising past a certain level. When you just look at the facts, the ‘law’ starts to lose its hypnotic dream like power.”
His way here of describing the silliness of relying on tyrants to grant you freedom is well-taken, for I have broached this very idea myself when I was trying to answer the question of whether you are obligated to buy medical insurance. Stevens adds:
“This book shouldn’t end without some explanation of an alternative to a coercive ‘state’ and the mythology supporting it. People only need to provide better services and products than bureaucrats do. This in a sense could put them out of business; to finally and forever put to rest the nonsense that services need to be provided on a compulsory basis. It doesn’t take violence to put this dinosaur called politics to rest; apathy and better services provided on a mutually voluntary basis. As you can tell I’m no fan of coercive business practices. I am sure you would agree that no service or product needs to be administered at the barrel of a gun.”
Although I completely sympathize with him that such compulsory “services” are an unnecessary evil, just try convincing your average survivalist of that, much less the general public. Only libertarians have raised a hue and cry about this to my knowledge, and I think that the effort should be commended, for it does suggest a possible way out of Leviathan by way of economically discrete civil disobedience, doesn’t it?
I think the time has come to objectively evaluate Marc Stevens’ litigation strategy. For purposes of (*heh*) “judging” the results, I will presume that such success stories must end in either a nolle prosequi, dismissal, or acquittal. As such, I have compiled the following from MarcStevens.net as well as the No State Project video archive (dates follow a yy/mm/dd format):
- 120105: City of Tempe, AZ v. Marc Stevens
- 120211: State of Maine v. Scott (video w/ commentary)
- 120401: Franklin County, NC Tax Collector v. White (video w/ commentary)
- 120518: State of Indiana v. John Doe (article w/o decision)
- 120614: Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Anna
- 120821: State of California v. Adam (video w/ commentary)
- 120928: State of Florida v. Jeffrey (video w/ commentary)
- 121008: State of California Franchise Tax Board v. Patti (video w/ commentary)
- 121226: State of California v. Adam (article w/o decision)
- 130109: City of Houston, TX v. Matthew Deoliveira (article w/o decision)
- 130130: State of Texas v. Robert
- 130208: Commonwealth of Kentucky v. James (video w/ commentary)
- 130801: Hillsborough County, FL v John Doe (video w/ commentary)
- 130808: State of Wisconsin v. Peter (video w/ commentary)
- 131010: State of Maine v Scott
- 140124: State of California v. Brett (article w/o decision)
- 140320: Washington, D.C. v Diron (video w/ commentary)
- 140401: State of Texas v. Richard (video w/ commentary)
- 140404: State of Arizona v. Blair (article w/o decision)
As you can no doubt tell, I was able to verify 19 “wins” over the span of almost 2 ¼ years, which were due to either Stevens’ personal intervention in a case, or the formulas in his book. Yet, 6 out of these 19 cases (~ 1/3rd) were only shown in videos laced with Stevens’ commentary; subsequent searches for them on his website turned up empty (even for the Deoliveira case, which Stevens explicitly said would be available for download).
Two additional cases worth mentioning briefly involve Lorin Kee and the now-infamous contraband turkey farmer right here in Texas. If you listen to the judge, you’ll hear him refuse to answer Kee’s question about why his case was dismissed, but other than that, there is nothing else to go on. Despite the confirmation of the Texas Administrative Code being used against the turkey farmer, I have been unable to locate the disposition of his case. Although both cases attribute the help of Marc Stevens in some way, it is rather unclear to what, if any, influence Stevens’ assistance was in the dismissal of Kee’s case or in the final disposition of the turkey farmer.
One glaring case which might suggest the weaknesses in Stevens’ method was none other than when Ian Bernard has his “operator’s privileges” indefinitely suspended last year. As the hearings examiner, Michael King, wrote in the his ruling decision:
“The initial portion of the hearing consisted of a discussion between Mr. Stevens and the hearings examiner concerning the basis for proceeding with the hearing. Whenever the hearings examiner attempted to allow the state to present its case by eliciting factual testimony, Mr. Stevens would object. Without attempting to summarize the number of objects by Mr. Stevens, the essence of his objections appeared to be that he did not believe that Ian Freeman (herein ‘respondent’) was subject to the jurisdiction of the Department of Safety. He framed the argument in various ways, but the arguments all amounted to the same thing: Mr. Freeman has not subjected himself to any governmental authority and the Department of Safety has no right to conduct the hearing and the Keene Police Department had the burden of establishing that authority. No matter how many times the hearings examiner explained the basis for the hearing, Mr. Stevens would not accept the explanation or the ruling and continued to object to any testimony being elicited. Eventually, the hearings examiner had to invoke Saf-C 203.12.”
During this administrative hearing, Stevens did not appear to me to be non-confrontational, as his litigation style is actually very combative:
“After approximately 45 minutes of continually overruling the same or similar objections and having warned Mr. Stevens that the continuation of his behavior toward the authority of the hearings examiner would result in his WEBEX connection being terminated, the hearings examiner did terminate the WEBEX connection. This banishment of Mr. Stevens from the hearing will not be considered in the ultimate decision per Saf-C 203.12(d).”
Stevens getting himself disconnected, I think, does not bode well for his litigation strategy, because he might as well as have earned himself a contempt of court charge. To further add insult to injury, Bernard’s motion for King to reconsider his indefinite suspension was rejected by King’s subsequent ruling. Last month, Bernard was arrested due in part to complications from the administrative hearing Stevens “assisted” him with. How’s that for “damage control?”
Needless to say, I would hate to fall into the trap of “hard cases make bad case law,” so for comparison’s sake, I’d like to introduce the 3 different cases of Vernice Kuglin, Stephen Anderson, and the Keene Robin Hooders:
- 030808: United States v. Kuglin
- 091216: State of Arizona v. Stephen Anderson
- 100812: State of Arizona v. Stephen Anderson
- 130611: Robin Hood Initial Hearing
- 130812: Robin Hood Evidentiary Hearing
- 130930: Robin Hood Evidentiary Hearing
- 131001: Robin Hood Evidentiary Hearing
- 131203: City of Keene v. James Cleaveland, et. al.
If you happened to notice, all 3 cases share a few significant characteristics – Stevens did not assist any of the defendants, they were all solid wins for the defendants, and all the defendants were not representing themselves pro se because they had each hired bar attorneys in private practice as defense counsel! Also, if you peruse the ~ 60 videos listed in the Free Keene video archival court footage between 2008 – 2014, I suspect you’ll discover that the majority of the cases (with the exception of last year’s “Robin Hooding” case) were resounding failures. This contrasts pretty sharply with the successes of the Kuglin, Anderson, & the Robin Hooding cases.
Now you may be wondering what Marc Stevens has anything to do with the legal troubles of Free Staters in Keene (aside from Bernard). Well, you must keep in mind that Stevens has often touted that this book of his has inspired libertarians to litigate their own cases pro se by Socratically questioning judges and prosecutors in court. Since the book was first published in 2002, and the fact that the civil disobedience in Keene didn’t really take off until 2009, there is a period of well over half a decade for Stevens’ book (and subsequent radio show) to really kick off and become popular within the libertarian sub-culture. Considering also the fact that the verifiable documentation provided by Stevens himself as to his win record only covers the last two years, I think you can begin to see the very mixed results of his allegedly “zen-like” litigation strategy.
You should also understand that my critique of Marc Stevens is not at all philosophical, but strictly methodological in nature. For instance, why didn’t Stevens (or one of his “clients”) try an oral habeas corpus like Gary Hunt did back in the ‘90s? Wouldn’t that have saved a lot of time and heartache if Stevens, or any of his clients, had simply said:
“I am the moving party today, and I am the plaintiff and I set forth a demand for Habeas Corpus for the record. I cannot find an injured party to summon for trial and I want an order for the Sheriff to bring the injured party before the court. I need an order from the court to tell the Sheriff to bring forth the injured party. If this charge is criminal then the injured party must present himself with a sworn statement of the injury. If the nature is civil, then the original contract to which I am alleged to be a party to and have violated must be brought forward.”
Also, if Stevens’ claim to fame is how he personally assisted in getting entire cases dropped, wouldn’t you think he would’ve bent over backwards to provide documentation (with privacy stipulations as necessary, of course) backing those claims up? Stevens is rather harebrained and inconsistent when it comes to documenting government oppression, although thankfully the Rio Grande Valley No State Project right here in Texas significantly improved upon this by documenting their own cases more consistently.
Marc Steven’s Adventures in Legal Land: Where Black is White and White is Black and Other Shocking Discoveries from America’s Courtrooms is an intriguing look into the psychology of bar attorneys. As the priesthood of statism, lawyers perpetuate an insidious lie about their execution of justice. Admittedly, while Stevens is right about the lunacy of “the code is applicable because the code is applicable,” his methodology, while not entirely wrong, leaves much to be desired. Looking forward, however, to a truly libertarian society, I will leave you with what I think best encapsulates that vision by Stevens’ concluding remarks:
“Notwithstanding the lies inherent in all politics, the protection of life, liberty, and property is a service. There is no reason why this particular service should be set apart from others and provided at the barrel of a machine gun. What a ‘business’ concept; no sales, no accountability, and everyone is a paying customer whether they want to or not. And why aren’t those services provided on a mutually voluntary basis? Quite simply: the loss of dominance and control over the people. Can you picture a world without Legal Land?”