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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. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  2. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  3. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

  4. Diversity is important, but with some limitations. For instance, diversity of experience is a great thing that can be very helpful in certain jobs or roles. Diversity of skin color is never important, ever, under any circumstance. To think that skin color changes one single thing about a person is patently racist and offensive. Likewise, diversity of values is useless. Some values are better than others. In the case of a supreme court justice, I actually think diversity is unimportant. The justices are not to impose their own beliefs on rulings, but need to apply the law to the facts in an objective manner.

  5. Have been seeing this wonderful physician for a few years and was one of his patients who told him about what we were being told at CVS. Multiple ones. This was a witch hunt and they shold be ashamed of how patients were treated. Most of all, CVS should be ashamed for what they put this physician through. So thankful he fought back. His office is no "pill mill'. He does drug testing multiple times a year and sees patients a minimum of four times a year.

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