‘Sovereign citizens’ aim to take common law into their own hands

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If you’d like to get in on the ground floor of a growing new organization that could empower you to compel testimony from your least favorite congressman or indict your ex-wife’s divorce lawyer, I might have something for you.

A group calling itself the National Liberty Alliance has scheduled a meeting for 2 p.m. Saturday at a Bartlett pizza parlor to hold an election to “reinstate the Common Law grand jury.”

What is a common-law grand jury, you ask, and why does it need to be reinstated?

Why, it’s the “only true court of record in America,” of course, and its purpose ought to be even more obvious.

To save the country.

To be honest, I didn’t know much about common-law grand juries until this week when I began reading about the trial of Cherron Phillips, a Chicago woman considered part of the “sovereign citizen” movement.

Phillips was found guilty Wednesday by a federal jury for filing phony $100 billion liens to harass four federal judges and six other law enforcement officials, including former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.

Such tactics are commonly employed by sovereign citizens, who deny government authority and make up their own where convenient.

Enter the National Liberty Alliance, which is offering a new spin on an old sovereign citizen theory of common-law courts, which might politely be described as a do-it-yourself alternative legal system for the disaffected.

The organization claims to have “constituted” common-law grand juries in 16 states in just the last few years.

These grand juries have no real basis in law, as you probably guessed, but its participants have wrapped themselves in enough pseudo-legal jargon to convince those who want to believe.

The plan is to constitute grand juries in all 102 Illinois counties with a vote by a showing of hands Saturday at the pizza parlor.

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