Alaska militia leader seeks U.S. Supreme Court review

Schaeffer Cox, the imprisoned founder of the Alaska Peacemakers Militia, is petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to review his 2012 conviction that put him in federal prison for 26 years.

Michael Filopovic, Cox’s federal public defender, recently filed the petition seeking the Supreme Court review partly claiming lower appeals courts have issued conflicting rulings on legal issues raised in the Cox case.

”This case … really concerns the outer limits of liability for conspiracy in the federal courts, particularly with respect to statutes involving conspiracy to murder federal officials or federal agents,” Filipovic told Alaska Public Media.

Specifically, the defense attorney claims, the petition raised the question whether Cox’s talk about murdering government officials, who weren’t specifically identified, posed an actual threat.

Filopovic argues that threats from Cox and his militia group would have been carried out only if the U.S. government implemented martial law, something he claims was highly unlikely.

The U.S. Supreme Court is deluged annually with requests to review convictions — petitions for writs of certiorari — but only accepts very few for actual review. So, there’s no guarantee at this point that Cox’s conviction will be examined.

The nation’s highest court “usually is not under any obligation to hear these cases, and it usually only does so if the case could have national significance, might harmonize conflicting decisions in the federal Circuit courts, and/or could have precedential value,” according to the Court’s web site.

Four of the court’s nine jurists must agree to accept a case before review is granted. The court usually accepts no more than 150 of the approximately 7,000 cases it’s asked each year to review.

Cox has been described by federal authorities as a “delusional, dangerous man” who called himself a sovereign citizen and acted as his own attorney for a time.

He was convicted in June 2012 in U.S. District Court in Alaska last June of nine federal charges — seven of them illegal firearms counts — related to a conspiracy to kill a judge and law enforcement officers. He was acquitted of charges of carrying a handgun while conspiring to purchase destructive devices and possession of a handgun while discussing the murder conspiracy.

Cox, now 34, and members of his Peacemaker Militia hatched a conspiracy to kill two government officials for every one militia member who was killed — their so-called “241” or two-for-one plan.

After his conviction, Cox fired his attorney. His replacement defender had him undergo a psychological examination which indicated he suffers from paranoia disorders.

Cox was sentenced to 26 years in prison in January 2013 for conspiracy and solicitation to murder federal officials and possession of illegal weapons. A visiting federal judge, who presided, said Cox's personality and mental status “indicate to me that the public needs to be protected from him.”

In August 2017, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the solicitation conviction and ordered Cox to be re-sentenced, which hasn’t occurred while the Supreme Court review petition has been developed.

Cox, reportedly spending some of his time writing poetry and a prison blog, is serving his sentence at the U.S. Penitentiary in Marion, Illinois.

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