‘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. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues