‘Sovereigns’ didn’t help themselves

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 27, 2015

All weekend, I was anxious for Tuesday to get here.

My Memorial Day weekend was pretty great, filled with a concert in Destin, Fla., and some good quality hang out time with my best friends.

But yesterday was a day that I looked forward to because it was the day that the two men with sovereign citizens movement ties were going to be sentenced for their involvement in filing a fraudulent suit against public officials.

In March, Travis Lee Lamber of Andalusia and William Peter Witwicki of Enterprise were found guilty by a Covington County jury on eight counts of offering a false instrument for recording against a public servant.

Basically, they were charged with creating a false document that files suit with sovereign citizen language against the officials for $89.2 million in silver.

During the trial, which was fascinating by the way, the State of Alabama Attorney General’s office called each public official — Coffee County Sheriff Dave Sutton, Circuit Judge Thomas Head, Circuit Clerk Mickey Counts and Circuit Judge Shannon Clark — and FBI Intelligence Analyst Paul Hodos to the stand as witnesses.

Lambert and Witwicki defended themselves and in this news editor’s opinion, it didn’t help them out at all. But hey, that’s why the American legal system is a pretty cool thing. It allows you the opportunity to defend yourself in trials.

I stared covering the trial when Hodos began his testimony, which basically consisted of him testifying that indeed Witwicki and Lambert had documents with sovereign citizen leanings.

I had heard of the sovereign citizens movement a little before I covered the trial, but it was fairly new to me in concept.

The movement is a group of American and Canadian litigants, commentators, tax protesters and financial-scheme promoters. They are self-described as sovereign citizens who take the position that they are answerable only to their particular interpretation of the common law. The citizens don’t recognize the United States currency, and or that they are free of any legal constraints.

What a mouth full.

Fast forward to yesterday. I was interested in hearing what Circuit Judge Lex Short would hand down on each defendant.

Each was given 10 years on each count (four) to run concurrently. Additionally, each will have to pay a $1,000 fine for each count of the charges and pay $200 to a victims fund.

That’s pretty much it for the sovereign citizens case, and I was glad to have been a part of it, from reporting on the trial itself to the sentencing hearing yesterday.