Foreword for this third installment in The “ernie” Chronicles: Please note that this author and this website do not furnish “legal counsel” or provide “legal advice”. Neither I nor the staff at this website, nor ernie-wayne: ter Telgte are lawyers, but merely journalists who discuss various political and/or governmental activities. That said, enjoy a little casual thought-provoking banter offered here as inducement to question what we presume to know.
The bigger picture is sometimes a better picture. In taking notes about ernie-wayne: ter Telgte’s wars with the legal system in our society, we see that he has targeted more localized statutes to accost: a “fishing license” and a “driver’s license”. Perhaps such are battlefields on which ernie feels a capacity to make challenge. But is he aware that such localized statutes and codes are connected to a larger battleground, such as the Federal government of the United States? Yes, he does.
The Federal government of the United States is obviously in major violation of its own founding legal charter as it operates widely outside its enumerated powers, noted in Article 1, Section 8. That is a condition known generally as “corruption”. That is where ernie’s plight and fight becomes useful to everyone, no matter whether one agrees or disagrees with ernie’s views on State-issued drivers’ licenses and fishing licenses. What ernie’s ongoing saga shows us is a strong example of how a man of courage can stand up for what he believes. Is ernie right? That is debatable. Some think he is right in his views, others think he is misguided. Readers here shall think as they will. The important thing is that ernie believes he is right, and is willing to risk jail again and again to establish the discussion with court officials. This installment will focus on ernie’s insistence on clarity with regards to “jurisdiction”.
To look into the question of jurisdiction it may be helpful to recall some basics preserved in the written words of this nation’s Founders. I would like to ask the reader to indulge me in recalling the Declaration of Independence, after which we’ll look at ernie’s scuffle on the courtroom floor with an officer of the law, in which he loudly asserted:
“This court has no jurisdiction!”
From back in January 2018 at Eureka, Montana, “ernie” discusses a paper he is about to file at the court, requesting among other things, a declaration of “jurisdiction”.
The “ernie” Chronicles: Juxtaposing Jurisdictions
Continuing this series on ernie-wayne: ter Telgte we note already that ernie is a regular customer for the Montana court system, and a voluntary customer at that. We also have already learned that ernie, when not jousting with judges or persecuting prosecutors, is one fine neighbor and a handy hand to have around. Want some raised-bed gardens built with logs? Want a tall fence around your gardens to keep the deer away from your vegetables? Talented, experienced, with hardy arms and stout back and tools to make it right, ernie’s your guy. (Editor’s note: The previous article in this series will get new readers up to speed quickly on ernie’s general character, which readers will want to know e’re reading this article. Click HERE please. )
Yet ernie has been arrested more than ten times in the past five years. What could have been a simple fine for fishing without a license in 2013 has instead mushroomed into a trail of trials and frequent sojourns in jails. That is because ernie holds an abiding belief that justice shall always, ultimately, prevail, even in today’s court system. He also believes that somehow, someway, somewhere, at some point in time, any individual should, in the interest of universal “justice”, be heard by whichever government seeks to exercise authority over individual human beings.
Well, perhaps we all can relate to that sentiment. The concept that justice should always prevail in the end relates to that vision which permeated Thomas Jefferson’s perception of man’s relationship to “Nature“, or “Nature’s God“, and to man’s relationship to governments. Jefferson noted that mankind is born with inherent “unalienable Rights“. In the Declaration of Independence Jefferson said it this way:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.— That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed….”
When Jefferson noted that “Governments are instituted among Men” he indicated a very subtle and often overlooked fact of life — “Governments” are man-made, while “unalienable Rights” are made from a higher authority and power than the edicts of any man-made government. Another implication carried in Jefferson’s pen is that “Government” must admit that its very ontology is dependent upon and subservient to the mind of man. In other words, all man-made governments must begin in the mind of humankind, who already was here in our world courtesy of “Nature” or “Nature’s God“, before any man-made government existed.
Jefferson also noted that governments are instituted among men to protect mankind’s “unalienable Rights“.
Hence my personal interest in ernie’s plight. His rebellion against external authority poses questions about some of the very phenomena which so greatly fascinated this nation’s Founders. Such included “Independence“, Liberty, Sovereignty, Individuality, as well as “Government” and Self-Government. To ernie’s way of seeing things, government’s primary function should be to protect our rights, just as Jefferson indicated.
In a greater context, however, that is but one of many considerations, a part of a greater, more complex premise. For the individual to retain full exercise of, full access to, his unalienable rights, said individual also must, by Nature, (Natural Law), respect the unalienable rights of all other men. (We’ll get to Herbert Spencer below.)
The Rawles Factor
James Wesley Rawles of SurvivalBlog.com on April 08, 2018, posted an article on jurisdiction which we all should consider: HERE
From that article we learn that there are three basic jurisdictions in American law. He quotes Wikipedia thus —
Subject-matter jurisdiction is the authority of a court to hear cases of a particular type or cases relating to a specific subject matter. A judgment from a court that did not have subject-matter jurisdiction is forever a nullity.
Personal jurisdiction is a court’s jurisdiction over the parties to a lawsuit, as opposed to subject-matter jurisdiction, which is jurisdiction over the law and facts involved in the suit. If a court does not have personal jurisdiction over a party, its rulings or decrees cannot be enforced upon that party, except by comity; i.e., to the extent that the sovereign having jurisdiction over the party allows the court to enforce them upon that party. A court that has personal jurisdiction has both the authority to rule on the law and facts of a suit and the power to enforce its decision upon a party to the suit.
Territorial jurisdiction in United States law refers to a court’s power over events and persons within the bounds of a particular geographic territory. If a court does not have territorial jurisdiction over the events or persons within it, then the court cannot bind the defendant to an obligation or adjudicate any rights involving them.
We find that while there may be additional nuances differentiating extensional aspects, those are the three main types of jurisdiction.
Here are some passages from James Wesley Rawles’ article which apply to ernie’s efforts to have the court answer as to its jurisdiction:
SPEAK UP OR GET STEAMROLLERED
It is a long-standing precept of law that the first in the order of pleadings is to the jurisdiction. If you fail to challenge the jurisdictional authority of an agency or a court, then you can only argue the facts and merits of your case. So speak up about jurisdiction early, and at length! Although jurisdiction can be challenged at any time (Basso v. Utah Power & Light Co. 495 F 2d 906, 910. 1974), it is best to bring this up from the outset of any interaction with authorities.
If you are called before a court and intend to challenge jurisdiction, then it is important that you first do so from outside the courtroom. Once you enter the railing of a courtroom without first challenging jurisdiction, you are making yourself a de facto party and defendant. I have read that if you are served court papers, then it is best to challenge jurisdictional authority first in writing (with a jurisdictional challenge in a motion to dismiss), then again verbally from outside the dock (outside of the inner courtroom railing), and then at least once again, if you are forced to be seated inside the dock.
Typically, modern statutory jurisdictions will attempt to brush aside jurisdictional challenges with disdain. A judge will often say: “Of course we have authority…” or: “Of course this court has jurisdiction…” But the annals of case law have shown that jurisdiction cannot be merely assumed. Once challenged, it must be proven. And if the authorities cannot clearly articulate their jurisdiction with referenced specificity, then properly they cannot proceed. (Although they often do, anyway!)
I would like to ask readers to go to SurvivalBlog.com and read the whole article, in which James Wesley Rawles notes further down that page the following —
It Probably Won’t Work
As I’ve written before in SurvivalBlog, the jurisdictional challenge defense approach is rarely properly recognized by modern statutory law courts. But I believe that on principle these objections must still be made, and made early. If nothing else, it provides you with one more avenue for appeal.
But let’s be realistic: Good luck citing the aforementioned decisions in today’s courts! In most instances they will simply be ignored. The courts are no longer concerned with what is right, fair, and just. Rather, they are concerned with gathering revenue and perpetuating their new-found powers.
The only good news that I have to offer is that although jurisdictional challenges have been consistently ignored, there has at least been some success in getting juries to nullify bad laws. I enthusiastically support the Fully Informed Jury Association.
This video filmed on February 01 2018 shows ernie somewhat brusquely requesting the court to declare jurisdiction, as he had done before, and would continue to do.
View ernie, handcuffed on the courtroom floor, loudly asserting his complaint about the court’s refusal to answer his direct questions about jurisdiction —
We are all Americans. We are neighbors. We are a good-hearted people by and large. I continue to point out to ernie that perhaps a bit more civility when addressing officers of the court would help in obtaining and keeping their interest in hearing what ernie has to say. I think there is a lesson in that for others who sometimes overlook their neighbors’ humanity. But ernie is a hold-over from Montana’s early days, a man who is like the rugged Nature in which Montanans live. He is hard-working, hard-living, and hardly intimidated by “the authorities”. His ideas are uncommon, at best, and downright startling to the general populace. He is asking government to abide by its founding legal charters, from top of the power pyramid to the bottom. Most folks presume that government is doing just that. Older war veterans such as I know better, and that is part of why I find ernie’s public showmanship to be of interest. Stay tuned — there is much more to come.
Allow me to close this installment of The “ernie” Chronicles by bringing up a noted American 19th Century author and philosopher named Herbert Spencer. If we think ernie is imaginative, what can we say about Spencer?
As a corollary to the proposition that all institutions must be subordinated to the law of equal freedom, we cannot choose but admit the right of the citizen to adopt a condition of voluntary outlawry. If every man has freedom to do all that he wills, provided he infringes not the equal freedom of any other man, then he is free to drop connection with the state — to relinquish its protection, and to refuse paying toward its support. It is self-evident that in so behaving he in no way trenches upon the liberty of others; for his position is a passive one; and whilst passive he cannot become an aggressor. It is equally self-evident that he cannot be compelled to continue one of a political corporation, without a breach of the moral law, seeing that citizenship involves payment of taxes; and the taking away of a man’s property against his will, is an infringement of his rights. Government being simply an agent employed in common by a number of individuals to secure to them certain advantages, the very nature of the connection implies that it is for each to say whether he will employ such an agent or not. If any one of them determines to ignore this mutual-safety confederation, nothing can be said except that he loses all claim to its good offices, and exposes himself to the danger of maltreatment — a thing he is quite at liberty to do if he likes. He cannot be coerced into political combination without a breach of the law of equal freedom; he can withdraw from it without committing any such breach; and he has therefore a right so to withdraw.
James Wesley Rawles: The First Question Is Always Jurisdiction: https://survivalblog.com/first-question-always-jurisdiction/
Subject Matter Jurisdiction Links
From The Rawles Article Referenced Above (All links are active at original article, linked above ) :
“A court cannot confer jurisdiction where none existed and cannot make a void proceeding valid. It is clear and well established law that a void order can be challenged in any court” OLD WAYNE MUT. LIFE ASS’N v. McDONOUGH, 204 U.S. 8, 27 S. Ct. 236 (1907).
“Where there is no jurisdiction over the subject matter, there is, as well, no discretion to ignore that lack of jurisdiction.” John J. Joyce v. United States of America, Appellant, 474 F.2d 215 (3d Cir. 1973), Also see F.R.Civ.P. 12(h) (3), supra note 1.
“Court must prove on the record, all jurisdiction facts related to the jurisdiction asserted.” TOWN OF LANTANA, FLORIDA. v. HOPPER, 102 F. 2d 188; Chicago v. New York 37 F Supp. 150
“Once jurisdiction is challenged, the court cannot proceed when it clearly appears that the court lacks jurisdiction, the court has no authority to reach merits, but, rather, should dismiss the action.” Christine Roth Melo, Appellant, v. United States of America, Appellee, 505 F.2d 1026 (8th Cir. 1974)
Rule 12(h)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that ‘whenever it appears by suggestion of the parties or otherwise that the court lacks jurisdiction of the subject matter, the court shall dismiss the action.’ A court lacking jurisdiction cannot render judgment but must dismiss the cause at any stage of the proceedings in which it becomes apparent that jurisdiction is lacking. Bradbury v. Dennis, 310 F.2d 73 (10th Cir. 1962), cert. denied, 372 U.S. 928, 83 S.Ct. 874, 9 L.Ed.2d 733 (1963). The party invoking the jurisdiction of the court has the duty to establish that federal jurisdiction does exist, Wilshire Oil Co. of Texas v. Riffe, 409 F.2d 1277 (10th Cir. 1969), but, since the courts of the United States are courts of limited jurisdiction, there is a presumption against its existence. City of Lawton, Okla. v. Chapman, 257 F.2d 601 (10th Cir. 1958). Thus, the party invoking the federal court’s jurisdiction bears the burden of proof. Becker v. Angle, 165 F.2d 140 (10th cir. 1947)