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paper terrorism, prisoners, and pro se mischief


A recent article in Future Trends in State Courts 2006, “The Anti-Government Movement Today”  (National Center for State Courts, by Charles A. Ericksen and Anne E. Skove), has a well-footnoted discussion of the malicious mischief being perpetrated in courts and other government bodies by the Anti-Government Movement.  The tactics amount to “paper terrorism” — “the use of fraudulent legal documents and filings, as well as the misuse of legitimate documents and filings, in order to intimidate, harass and coerce public officials, law enforcement officers and private citizens.” (from “Sovereign Citizen” Movement, at the Anti-Defamation League’s law enforcement website; and see our post “coordinated pro se tax-haters clogging up the courts, Oct. 13, 2006)

 bombFuseN In the Future Trends article, Ericksen and Stove explain Redemption Scams, which are bogus claims on money supposedly owed to individuals by the Government.  The Scams have become widespread, thanks to “self-help materials” being produced or used by jailed militia members in our nation’s prison’s (with “handbooks circulating among inmates, audiotapes and books available for purchase, seminars offered across the country, and information on the Internet”).  Thanks to basic human greed, the Redemption procedures are being tried by “a range of people, many of whom may not have ties to anti-government groups.”  The article also describes in detail a “Particularly troubling and difficult to stem” tide of filings with state corporation commissions. 

Noting that prison inmates pose special challenges (especially those already serving life without parole), the authors suggest coordinated efforts with courts, prosecutors, state agencies, and prison staff working together to identify and stem frivolous filings.  They also discuss concerns that acts of violence may again be use.  The article ends cautioning that “those responsible for court security must keep such groups and tactics on their radar screens, and be aware of these issues when planning security measures.”



  1. david wilhelm

    May 1, 2007 @ 9:41 pm


    “Paper Terrorism”?
    Absurd. Only a lawyer could come up with semantics like that. A lawyer affiliated with Harvard to boot.
    Let me put it this way – if you took the opposite view, “the devil’s advocate”, you wouldn’t be on Harvard’s server or have its patronage like you do. I know, my cousin is at the Kennedy School and has a Harvard email address that he likes to throw around and impress people with.
    The real terrorism is the ideological straight-jacket that you are in but don’t realize – you cover it up with academic-speak and ivy-league credibility.

  2. david giacalone

    May 1, 2007 @ 10:00 pm


    Hello, david. Thanks for stopping by and opining. You seem to be filled with a lot of anger and insecurity. “Paper terrorism” was not my terminology; I’m quoting from the cited article. (The alliteration worked well for my headline.) I’d love to know what reasoning would support the “opposite view” that flooding the courts and agencies with meritless papers is acceptable conduct. Why not write about it at length at your weblog, since you don’t seem to want to share any real analysis with us here.

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