COA: Sovereign citizen still subject to jurisdiction

April 28, 2016

The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed a man’s murder conviction Thursday, finding the trial court had jurisdiction despite his status as a “Moorish American National Sovereign” and “secured party creditor.”

Tyreese Taylor-Bey was convicted of murder and sentenced to 65 years. Before his trial, he filed a motion to dismiss based on his status as a sovereign citizen, but the trial court denied it as well as his motion to reconsider. He also filed motions for numerous continuances based on his status before his trial was eventually held.

Chief Judge Nancy Vaidik wrote the decision and said Marion Superior Court had subject matter jurisdiction because the court has jurisdiction over all criminal activity in Marion County.

Taylor-Bey said the court did not have personal jurisdiction because he is not a United States citizen and is instead a Moorish American National, citing Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393, 403-04 (1856)  in his defense. However, the 14th Amendment provides “all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” The 14th Amendment overrode the Dred Scott decision.

But even without that, personal jurisdiction does not require the defendant to be a U.S. citizen, Vaidik wrote. She cited United States v. Benabe, 654 F.3d753, 767, a 2011 7th Circuit Court of Appeals decision, which said “Regardless of an individual’s claimed status of descent, be it as a ‘sovereign citizen, a ‘secured party creditor,’ or a ‘flesh-and-blood human being,’ that person is not beyond the jurisdiction of the courts.” Because the crime occurred in Marion County, that court had jurisdiction over him.

The case is Tyreese Taylor Bey v. State of Indiana, 49A05-1503-CR-123.



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