The man who gave himself the title “Superior Court Judge of the Continental uNited States of America” may have to get that embossed on his jail cell name plate.
That’s because Bruce Doucette, who traveled the country helping other sovereign citizens set up bogus common law court systems, was just convicted in a real Colorado courtroom of 43 felony counts.
So, now the 57-year-old computer repair shop owner from Littleton, Colorado, likely will spend the rest of his life in a jail cell after he is sentenced in late May.
Doucette headed what he called “The People’s Grand Jury in Colorado” before he and eight of his common-law court disciples were indicted last June after running what charging documents described as a racketeering enterprise for three years.
Co-defendants, Stephen Nalty and Steven Byfield, both of whom played lesser roles than Doucette, already have been sentenced to 36 and 22 years in prison, respectively.
The case, investigated and prosecuted by the Colorado State Attorney General’s Office, actually garnered very little media attention, even though it may rank as the largest case of its kind brought in the United States since the 1996 prosecutions against the Montana Freemen.
Doucette was identified as the leader of the common-law courts enterprise, traveling the country telling others how to set up such operations. He traveled from Colorado to Oregon during the January 2016 illegal occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge by Ammon and Ryan Bundy, and others.
He went to Oregon, hoping to set-up a common-law court that would issue indictments, get judgments and liens against various public officials, but his plan didn’t get much traction during the Malheur occupation.
Back in Colorado, his common-law court “enterprise” – described as a form of organized crime -- involved an illegal, “long-term scheme” that attempted to influence and intimidate various public officials in Colorado.
Targets of the enterprise included state and municipal court judges, prosecutors, sheriffs, and other public officials involved in legal matters involving the defendants. At one point, even Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper was targeted.
It took Colorado’s criminal justice system awhile to take notice and fight back, but eventually a real citizen’s grand jury issued its own indictment in April 2017, followed two months later with a finely tuned, 40-count superseding indictment listing additional criminal predicate acts.
The indictment accused the defendants of multiple criminal counts including racketeering, attempting to influence public servants, extortion, criminal impersonation, retaliation against judges, forgery, mail fraud, filing false legal documents and tax evasion.
Many of the charged crimes were forms of “paper terrorism” – the hallmark of many sovereign citizens who believe federal and state laws and licensing requirements don’t apply to them.
But the members of the common-law enterprise also leveled “credible threats or committed acts of harm,” against a Colorado judge and prosecutor, leading to two counts of retaliation against those public officials.
The participants filed a flurry of handcrafted documents they believed were legal, including writs of garnishment and commercial liens against assorted public office holders. At one point, the common law court gang boldly proclaimed a judge was “under citizen’s arrest.”
Doucette testified in his own defense during his two-week trial that ended March 9, according to media accounts.
He told jurors he simply “wanted to restore the Republic and remove corruption that has enslaved” Americans, peppering his remarks with talk about the Declaration of Independent, the Bill of Rights and proud sovereign citizens like himself.