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‘Sovereign citizen’ convicted of kidnapping daughter loses appeal

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The Kansas man who kidnapped his adult daughter and held her captive in northern Indiana had his convictions and sentence upheld by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Wednesday.

Martin Jonassen was sentenced last year to 40 years in prison for kidnapping and intimidating his daughter in an attempt to not have her testify at his trial. He was arrested by Portage Police after he tried to physically drag 21-year-old E.J. from a liquor store where she had fled, nude, from a hotel room Jonassen had rented.

While in custody awaiting trial and sentencing, Jonassen, who identifies himself as a sovereign citizen, flooded the court with more than 180 frivolous pro se motions and chose to represent himself at trial.

His seven-month campaign to get his daughter to not testify worked – the day of the trial, on the stand, she said she didn’t know or couldn’t remember the answer to questions asked of her, even her name. The night before, she went over her testimony with the government, so when she didn’t testify, the government moved to admit statements to police under Rule 804(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Evidence. The District Court granted the motion.

On appeal, Jonassen argued that the federal court should have conducted a competency hearing after his appointed counsel raised concerns about Jonassen’s mental health; that E.J.’s prior statements should not have been admitted; and that the court erred in denying his post-trial motion seeking, under the Jencks Act, notes a prosecutor took during the meeting E.J. had with officials the day before trial.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals found the District Court properly declined to conduct a competency hearing based on a colloquy between the judge and Jonassen.

“Although Jonassen asserted bizarre legal theories based on his claim of ‘sovereign citizenship,’ that alone does not provide a reason to doubt his competence to stand trial, and the record does not otherwise suggest that he lacked the ability to understand the proceedings,” Judge Diane Sykes wrote.

The judges also found the government laid an ample foundation for the admission of the hearsay evidence of E.J.’s statement – that Jonassen used bribery, guilt and various forms of psychological intimidation to procure E.J.’s unavailability. And because Jonassen didn’t request the Jencks Act material before the close of his trial, his claim for relief under the Act fails.
 

The case is United States of America v. Martin J. Jonassen, 13-1410.

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  1. I'm not sure what's more depressing: the fact that people would pay $35,000 per year to attend an unaccredited law school, or the fact that the same people "are hanging in there and willing to follow the dean’s lead in going forward" after the same school fails to gain accreditation, rendering their $70,000 and counting education worthless. Maybe it's a good thing these people can't sit for the bar.

  2. Such is not uncommon on law school startups. Students and faculty should tap Bruce Green, city attorney of Lufkin, Texas. He led a group of studnets and faculty and sued the ABA as a law student. He knows the ropes, has advised other law school startups. Very astute and principled attorney of unpopular clients, at least in his past, before Lufkin tapped him to run their show.

  3. Not that having the appellate records on Odyssey won't be welcome or useful, but I would rather they first bring in the stray counties that aren't yet connected on the trial court level.

  4. Aristotle said 350 bc: "The most hated sort, and with the greatest reason, is usury, which makes a gain out of money itself, and not from the natural object of it. For money was intended to be used in exchange, but not to increase at interest. And this term interest, which means the birth of money from money, is applied to the breeding of money because the offspring resembles the parent. Wherefore of an modes of getting wealth this is the most unnatural.

  5. Oh yes, lifetime tenure. The Founders gave that to the federal judges .... at that time no federal district courts existed .... so we are talking the Supreme Court justices only in context ....so that they could rule against traditional marriage and for the other pet projects of the sixties generation. Right. Hmmmm, but I must admit, there is something from that time frame that seems to recommend itself in this context ..... on yes, from a document the Founders penned in 1776: " He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good."

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