On Friday I had the pleasure of appearing in Wayne County Circuit Court on a summary disposition motion for a very weird landlord-tenant case. For 15 years my client was a commercial tenant paying rent, but never payed all the rent and never paid on time, and it was accepted and all was well until after 13 years the landlord turns around and sues for about $1.25 million in backrent.
The long and the short of it - I got about half a win at the motion, getting one of two companies involved as defendants dismissed, as well as knocking out 7 years, and more importantly $400 thousand in damages due to my friend and yours, the six year statute of limitations on contracts. You really can't wait for 15 years and then sue claiming you're owed the unpaid amounts of rent due from all those years, it just doesn't work.
The rest of the motion I realistically wouldn't have won and sure enough, I didn't so on to trial on that portion.
But, while I was waiting in the packed courtroom I got a chance to see yet another sovereign moor in action.
He's the plaintiff suing the Michigan Attorney General, Wayne County Prosecutor Kim Worthy and (now ex-)Wayne County Sheriff Evans for something unspecified. Of course the three of them being ably represented by a decent attorney who has raised the affirmative defense of immunity. The motion for which the moor and the attorney are in front of the court on is the attorney's motion to get the case dismissed on that basis.
So in comes our moor. He comes in all slick and asks to make an offer of proof, but first asks the judge to state her name, which the judge does. He then asks "as part of the record" that the judge make everyone in the room identify themselves for the record.
The judge doesn't buy it and points out that's unnecessary. The moor then goes on as how he's a sovereign citizen and it is required . The judge points out there are rules in court and he can follow them or not and she's not going to waste everyone's time.
He then asks to make an offer of proof. The judge asks what for, he says that under the constitution he can make on offer of proof and he wants her to swear to uphold the constitution.
The judge assures him the constitution is just fine and dandy in her court and indeed the law of the land but he needs to give some reason why the case should not be dismissed under the doctrine of immunity.
He then states there's no such thing as immunity in the constitution and the state laws and statutes don't apply.
She then reasonably points out that as plaintiff he filed this case in The State of Michigan in the Wayne County Circuit Court, so state law certainly applies because he's in - yes, you guessed it - state court!
He apparently never considered this issue when he brought his complaint in state court. Sucks to be him.
The court grants the attorney's motion to dismiss, the moor requests to make an offer of proof. The court indicates she's put it all on the record, the defendants are immune from his suit and they're done.
He doesn't get it.
She repeats herself and calls the next case. He interrupts and tries to keep going, she in no uncertain terms lets him know he's done.
He finally realizes he lost, hopefully has by now realized that there are no magic words in court and one can't walk in and declare "constitution", "sovereign citizen" and "offer of proof" and expect to be either taken seriously, nor have a chance of winning. The term "offer of proof" does has a specific meaning and he's not using it right.
Just 'cause you read on the internet that you have a surefire way of winning in court if you use a few magic words doesn't mean it is so.
Indeed, just maybe he'll go file the frivolous complaint in federal court next time.
At least it broke up a rather dull string of everyday motions and gave everyone in the room a few laughs.
Update: The Providential Commenter Scott asks in the comments - what's a Moor?
The Sovereign Moor movement is quite interesting. It is a black nationalist/seperatist movement that typically claims they arrived here not as slaves but as Moors and were here before the arrival of Columbus, and thus the laws of the United States do not apply. The real descendants of the Moors, typically get a bit annoyed by this claim.
In short it is a very nonsensical claim as to their origins and similarly nonsensical that they are not citizens of the US or whatever state they are in. This argument somehow lets them weasel out of paying for stuff on contracts they enter into. Even better, they get funny legal advice on the internet that doesn't work in reality.
To make things even moor interesting and ironic, the whole sovereign citizen movement originally developed as a white seperatist/supremacist doctrine. So we have blacks adopting a crackpot theory developed by a bunch of miscreants that certainly don't regard blacks as particularly desirable to say the least.
In short, going into court and then claiming you're not a citizen but rather "sovereign" and that the court has no jurisdiction over you when you do actually live within the geographic jurisdcition of the court is a losing argument, no matter how entertaining it is to watch.