The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

New Georgia Law Targets Antigovernment Sovereign Citizens

By Leah Nelson on April 18, 2012 - 2:30 pm, Posted in Sovereign Citizens

Aiming squarely at the antigovernment “sovereign citizens” movement, Georgia’s governor on Monday signed a law that will make it a felony to file fraudulent liens against public officials or employees, a tactic known as “paper terrorism.”

Sovereign citizens, extremists who believe they don’t have to obey most laws or pay taxes and have been known to react murderously to perceived incursions on their freedom, have wreaked havoc in Georgia over the past several years.

In one of the first cases of its kind, 12 sovereigns in North Georgia were charged last March with stealing properties worth millions of dollars, including mansions and a strip mall in Atlanta’s wealthy Buckhead neighborhood. They are being prosecuted under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, a federal law originally drafted to fight organized crime but now sometimes applied to other forms of criminal enterprise.

The suspects allegedly fabricated quitclaim deeds transferring ownership of the properties to themselves and filed the phony paperwork with the courts. When government officials tried to have the documents removed, the sovereigns filed baseless property liens and lawsuits against them.

In a separate case, Tim Shaw, a police chief in Temple, Ga., was harassed, threatened, and hit with false liens totaling more than $800,000 by a sovereign citizen angered by a traffic citation. Shaw told Georgia’s WSBTV he was “elated” at the law’s passage.

Paper terrorism, as it has been nicknamed, is a common sovereign tactic in which perceived foes are attacked with fraudulent liens and bogus lawsuits, creating financial and legal problems that can take years and thousands of dollars to sort out, clogging the courts in the meantime.

Georgia’s new law, which goes into effect July 1, will make filing false liens against public officials a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. It was developed at the request of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and sponsored by state Rep. B.J. Pak, a Republican.

In its current form, it protects public officials only. But according to GBI spokesman John Bankhead, Pak – an accomplished attorney who was himself once the subject of a fraudulent lien – hopes next year to expand it to protect private citizens and to look into developing language that would allow recording clerks to reject such bogus documents in the first place.

  • Tyler

    I think it’s too easy to dismiss the sovereigns as wackos who have no respect for the law. These are everyday Americans who feel betrayed by their country and feel the need to do something about it. That part is very real. I think there is a lack of trust going on with our political and financial systems that fuel movements like the sovereign citizens. With the huge gap between the rich and poor continuing to grow I find movements like these to be commonplace.

  • Ray

    “we individually can have them arrested for their crimes against us and sue them and lien them the proper way to compensate us back for their damages against us.”

    ….but what the do many times is not a crime, it just takes an attorney hours to prove the leins are bogus so it is dismissed. Also, these people are smart enough to keep assets out of their name so they cannot be sued sucessfully in retaliation. If you sue them you will only get a judgement with no way of collecting a dime.

  • Ray

    “I have only one question that keeps nagging at me if these documents were “baseless” wouldn’t the courts be able to do something about it? ”

    What happens in these folks file leins against everything the person owns even though there was never any sort of contract or any money owed between the two.

    The process is complicated enough one normally has to hire an attorney at their own expense just to get the claims heard and disproved. Since there are normally multiple claims against the victim from several different members that means the lawyer has to be hired for multiple cases which gets expensive fast.

    It makes it impossible to sell the property because they will not release the lein and it is a big negative factor to obtain any credit while the lein is in place. Look at the police chief they mentioned, they filed $800k in leins against him. That amount of debt would effectively freeze his credit and ability to dispose of property along with costing him thousands to fix when all he did is issue a traffic ticket.

    This has nothing to do with ‘protecting big governement’, it is about righting a wrong and creating a penalty for those who try to use bogus financial leins as a method to destroy others.

  • ATUM RA

    Sovereignty is only attainable by an Entity who is powerful enough to defend all its actions from everyone and everything that opposes such Entity, even of the laws of nature itself. Sovereignty is transcending through polarization; Even Jesus himself was served death by not having the intuition to transcend the turning of one side against another until one more powerful side hated him so that he paid the ultimate for it.

    These so-called Sovereigns know nothing of real Sovereignty as they engage in battles which they lack the numbers and the intuition to win. These people base their beliefs in such fictions as their government has bifurcated their names in a debtor/creditor relation to one another; however such a belief is so very deniable. In the U.S. they believe in such nonsense that every man and woman is Sovereign of their State and that the State by and through its Constitution is Sovereign of the Federal Government; even though it is the Federal Government itself which gives each State its Statehood and it is the 14 amendment of the Federal Constitution which describes men and women of the U.S. as citizens and not Sovereigns of the U.S. Only one State stood as a Sovereign before the beginning of the U.S. and that is Texas and upon entering into the Union it gave up its Sovereign status. It is true that each State had to construct its constitution before entering the Union; however it was only preparatory to entering the Union.

    The so-called Sovereign makes claims to restore the Republic which they claim no longer exists, however the U.S. is a Republican form of government now, whereby the citizens elected are the individuals responsible of drafting the laws of the Union and not put to popular vote such as would be a democracy which always fails for lack of the people to know what laws will best suit the whole of the nation. The so-called Sovereigns are misguided imbeciles.

    We have the laws of this Nation on our side for us to use to defeat their frivolous claims and fraud against us, we only need use such laws to defeat them. We should not always look to our government to be our nannies to protect us from these evils, we individually can have them arrested for their crimes against us and sue them and lien them the proper way to compensate us back for their damages against us.

  • Marcus

    I have only one question that keeps nagging at me if these documents were “baseless” wouldn’t the courts be able to do something about it?

    It really bothers me to read of people who take things to this extreme, however it also scares me when I read what Government does in retaliation.

  • Reynardine

    I have personally dealt with a case where a vindictive clan of these sovereigns so persecuted the ex-wife of one of them -and anyone who dared aid her- with multiple lawsuits, that the ramifications reached all the way to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and irreparably damaged quite a few lives along the way.

  • Supersonic250

    Jonas Rand-

    ….No, Paper Terrorism is illegal, and can ruin lives, particularly when directed against private citizens who have done nothing except crossed a vengeful sovereign. It can drive innocent people into bankruptcy, take their homes from them, and more. Also, the homes don’t BELONG to the Sovereigns. If they want a home, they can BUY one without breaking the law and hurting innocent people. Sovereigns are idiots, and are dangers to themselves and everyone around them, and need to be taken out of civilized society for everyone’s safety.

  • Andrew

    Good

  • Jonas Rand

    This is yet another way to put power in the hands of big government, untouchable rich people, and high-and-mighty judges who can make life-ruining decisions without any risk of humiliation, loss, or retaliation. Several people have been targeted by the nonviolent activities of “sovereign citizens” who simply want justice and homes. The pirates of capital and their state enforcers are trying to protect themselves against the poor so that people who have been wronged by the court system and big corporations have no way to fight back. “Paper terrorism” is nonviolent and the only problem the powerful have with it is that it disrupts their power trips. That being said, the sovereign “movement” originated with a bunch of racist kooks (some of whom are still part of it) and I’m suspicious of some of their motives too.

  • Sam Molloy

    That’s paperless terrorism

  • Reynardine

    Donald, the answer is to make it not only possible but easy for the defendants against these bogus suits to file an abuse of process counterclaim with their answer, and for the state to make malicious prosecution/vexatious lawsuit a misdemeanor, upgradable to a felony after a certain number of convictions. Again, bona fide litigation must not be suppressed, but when meritless filings against unconnected parties exceed a certain number per year, or when one natural person is repeatedly targeted for such filings by the same or connected plaintiffs, that should tip a threshhold.

    Information in fairly understandable terms can be found in Sheppard’s Causes of Action under Abuse of Process/Malicious Prosecution, and these volumes are generally available in even modest courthouse libraries. I daresay material is available on line, as well.

  • http://twitter.com/AronL Aron

    Supersonic250,

    Ok, I hope you’re right, too! I was a little surprised that anyone who knew how to turn on a computer could be THAT dense. xD

  • Supersonic250

    I’m sure she’ll correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe Carrie was joking, Aron…. Not a great one, but a joke none the less.

  • http://twitter.com/AronL Aron

    Carrie,

    Please explain how the SPLC is engaging in ‘paper terrorism.’

  • Ted

    Well it’s about time somebody did something about this.

  • Carrie Kale

    So I’m curious…will anyone in Georgia be filing on the SPLC for “paper terrorism”?

  • Donald

    Interesting how the law will give protection to the government employees, but not private citizens who are also victimized by the whako “sovereigns.” It’s nice they will “try” to get private citizens covered next year. How about just making it be a felony to file a false lein against anyone?

  • Concerned Citizen

    Hooray for the law! It’s time to end all of the retreading from ALL of THESE rght wing nuts.. They’re costing us a lot of tax dollars that could use to help the homeless and the poor. America belongs to everybody, even these poor losers like the 12 sovereigns in North Georgia.

  • Mark McCoy

    Funny how the state doesn’t have the same attitude when banks file against people who are victims of robo-signed mortgages and extortion letters threatening lawsuits against people for all sorts of administrative violations that fail to meet due process requirements.
    Yeah, sovereign citizens have it wrong. They need to stop acting like government when they hate government.
    There are better ways to rebel.

  • http://twitter.com/AronL Aron

    Jason,

    Evidence please. Otherwise you’re lying.

  • Gregory

    Jason,
    Prove it. Provide at least on citation for what you claim happens “all the time”.

    Of course, you will be unable to meet even this modest standard of proof, because your claim is complete bullshit. If your past behaviour is anything to go by, you will change the subject to some other random bit of idiocy

  • Dan Zabetakis

    “The SPLC threatens lawsuits all the time against businesses to intimidate them.”

    Even if that were true, it would ot be relevant to this article.

    DanZ

  • Reynardine

    Nice fantasy, Jason.

  • Jason Smith

    The SPLC threatens lawsuits all the time against businesses to intimidate them. They do this to extort money out of them. It goes like this. They send a letter to a business claiming they’re discriminating against minorities. They threaten to sue. They tell the business, ‘we’re willing to drop the whole thing if you give us X amount of dollars. The business caves in and pays the SPLC off because it would cost them more to defend themselves in court.

  • Reynardine

    The latter is not a good idea. The proper remedy for a bogus filing exists in various types of motions to sstrike/motions to dismiss/ motions for summary judgement, and a simplified form should be made available to lay people, but to allow clerks to decide on their own what pleadings and motions to file and which to refuse as bogus inevitably means that favors will be done for the connected and outgroup members will never get a hearing. Judges are supposed to determine such things; clerks are unqualified to do so.