Yes! You Can Fight City Hall… and Win!
“No man’s life liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session.” Mark Twain
By Bill Price
Our elected and bureaucratic officials have refined scamming into an art. But, all scams feed off of the public’s ignorance. A few years ago a friend of mine received a barking dog citation from a township ordinance officer. $80 was being demanded for the offence. Apparently a complaining neighbor, who my friend just happened to be in a protracted property dispute with, began phoning complaints into the township office. Mark, the dog’s owner, asked me if I knew of anything he could do about being fined for the alleged offence. Well, it just so happened that a couple of years earlier I was arrested as a result of a misidentification. Naturally I pleaded not guilty, but my county sheriff’s department and the prosecutor were only interested in having someone pay the associated $500 fine for the alleged offence. They refused to drop the charges. Two months later, the very night before my jury selection, I got a call from the County prosecutor’s office informing me that they had just issued a Writ of Nolo Prosequi (unwilling to prosecute). The County’s attempt to “administer” justice finally ran out of steam. Due Process was my salvation. The 7th Amendment in our Bill of Rights guarantees a jury trial to anyone accused of an offence over $20. Since having gained a little on the job training regarding due process I was able to discuss the typical omissions in City Hall’s ordinance scams with my friend. Mark’s dog barking dilemma and his township’s intention to administer a dose of “justice” illustrates how low our officials will go. Let’s take it from the beginning.
Number one, when it comes to the law there are only two governmental bodies that we citizens must concern ourselves with. One of them is in Washington D.C and the other is in the state capitol where our respective state legislatures convene. Counties, cities, villages and townships cannot make law. These little political subdivisions have no elected legislators. Thank God! Mark twain was not joking when he quipped about the governmental fleecing of his fellow citizens.
The first thing that one must know in order to defeat ordinance scams perpetrated under “color of law”, like dog barking, seatbelt, garage sale, junk car, etc., etc., is that your due process can and will protect you. Local ordinances must actually be in compliance with a State law that prohibits the alleged illegal activity. More and more, an ignorant public are seen as walking opportunities by money hungry officials. City councils and county boards etc. can easily violate a citizen’s rights when passing/enacting ordinances that have money and/or jail time remedies. Even though federal and state lawmakers are no strangers when it comes to fleecing their citizens, you will find that local officials have made a virtual industry out of “ordinance enforcement”. Local governments have grown exponentially as a direct result of the dollars now pouring in. Mark’s citation as the owner of a barking dog will serve to illustrate how the ordinance scams work.
I asked Mark if his citation cited, by reference, a State law. Guess what? There was no state law named on his citation. It was therefore totally void. Mark then notified his township that he was not accepting responsibility for the alleged wrong doing and demanded the first step in his due process, a pretrial hearing. At the pretrial hearing just prior to his court appearance, Mark pointed out to the prosecutor that his citation lacked a reference to a state law. The Prosecutor then slyly “dropped” the charge.
Another friend of mine was cited for parking in a handicap parking spot. The Livonia prosecutor’s office sent him a threatening letter, stating that he now owed $130.00, and would not be able to renew his driver’s license. A bench warrant would be issued for his arrest if he did not pay up immediately. My friend checked his citation to see if it cited by reference a Michigan Compiled Law (MCL). He brought the citation into work and we could see that an MCL was listed on the citation. So we looked it up (findlaw.com) to see what it said and all appeared to be in order. There was a problem however. The state law quoted on his citation referred to yet another state law. When we looked up that law we found that specific stipulations limited the action that could be taken. Only public property or private properties designated for public use were counted as offences according to this law. The handicap parking citation was left on the windshield of my friend’s vehicle, while he temporarily parked in order to take groceries up to his 3rd floor apartment. When he returned a few minutes later to move his car he had found the citation, left there by the Livonia police. After talking it over, we came to the obvious conclusion. His alleged law breaking did not occur on public property or private property designated for public use. For example, could a non-tenant park in his complex area while taking a walk to a nearby park, or go shopping at the mall? Of course not! Parking was provided for tenants and their guests only. Those handicapped spots were designed by the complex owner as a voluntary reminder to his tenants and their guests to not use them for permanent parking places. No State law prohibited the momentary use of those handicapped parking places. And, no law was violated. My friend sent the prosecutor a letter stating that he was innocent and intended to plead not guilty to the alleged wrongdoing. He stated that the law was being misapplied. He also demanded a pretrial hearing, as part of his guaranteed constitutional due process rights.
Ladies and gentlemen, our accusers must provide probable cause. The cities threat to fine my friend and forcibly take his liberty can only be done upon probable cause. A judge or magistrate judge can sign an arrest warrant only upon the presentment of probable cause, sworn to by someone with actual first hand knowledge of the alleged violation. So, how is it legally possible to issue an arrest warrant when no probable cause existed?
One of the tricks used by unscrupulous officials is to threaten an arrest warrant or claim that one already exists, like they did with me in my case of “misidentification”. When I demanded it (a copy of the arrest warrant), under the Freedom of Information Act, they simply refused by claiming that it was a court document that they had no access to. There never was an actual arrest warrant…a common trick employed by the growing number of over-zealous prosecutors. When we insist on our due process by demanding our pre-trial hearing, justice begins to work in our favor. Anyone charged with an offense that makes a demand on their money or liberty is entitled to a pre-trial hearing. The problem grows hugely for our officials when a jury comes into the picture. So, don’t be afraid to demand your pre-trial hearing…it cannot be denied. You can ask the prosecutor questions. What state law was violated? Demand a copy of the law they intend on using to prosecute you with. If the prosecutor refuses your demand, motion for a dismissal based the prosecution’s denial of your due process (information necessary to make a defense). Remember to take a prepared list of your demands at your pre-trial hearing including the items mentioned above. Also take a witness. They cannot deny you witnesses, and if they should try, demand the state law that they are using as their authority to deny your demand. There is no state law that denies such and an ordinance has no power unless it is adopted from a state law. So don’t fall for their tricks.
There are adoption procedures for political subdivisions to follow. The purpose of these procedures is to give local ordinances actual force of law. Without satisfying those adoption procedures local ordinances have no actual force of law. Illegal ordinance enforcements are common and executed under color of law. These are common because people do not know the ABC’s of their due process guarantees. Enforcement actions without the authority of a state law are criminal by nature. Commonly practiced violations by local officials all over the country reveal a plague of pilfering through the “administration” of our “due process”. The prosecutors knew in the above cited cases that the alleged “violations” did not violate state law, but “color of law”. This has been good enough for 99.9% of “we the sheeple”. If these officials really didn’t know, then things are even scarier yet. The Ingham County Sheriff and Prosecutor knew within hours of my arrest that I was not the person they were looking for. Mark was being threatened with an increasing fine for a dog barking violation that had absolutely no basis in law, and no law was violated by the man using the handicapped parking spot while transferring his groceries to his apartment.
Violations like the ones described are routinely committed by law enforcement officers, ordinance agents, prosecutors and other officials, are felony crimes. These crimes have names, like extortion, operating under “color of law”, fraud, and conspiracy to mention just a few. Officials are being granted immunity in order to protect the ordinance industry.
Remember our “officials” take an oath of office to defend the Constitution and uphold the laws of the United States. Presently, the men in black have found it beneficial to enable our accusers, by issuing dismissals to valid complaints against these perpetrators under the guise of immunity. Tyranny is here to stay in good old USA unless enough good men do something, like using their guaranteed due process rights. The next time you are charged with a violation, demand your pre-trial hearing. If the prosecutor refuses to provide your demand for a copy of the state law and the sworn oath statement (probable cause) that is being used as evidence of an alleged wrongdoing, demand a jury trial and a discovery order from the judge after your pre-hearing. The discovery order compels the prosecutor to provide the material you have demanded for your defense.
Finally, if you don’t believe me concerning the corruption in City Hall, I suggest you read Judge Anthony Napolitano’s tremendous book Constitutional Chaos. The picture I have painted here will seem relatively rosy by comparison.
Here is a brief formula for stopping tyranny:
Check your citation for a reference to the State law allegedly violated.
The political subdivision citing you must provide a copy of the State law they intend to prosecute with. So be polite, but don’t take no for an answer. They are required to keep these ordinances for public inspection and can only ask for a small fee to reproduce them, e.g. 10 or 20 cents a page.
Demand a dismissal if a State Law is not referenced in the ordinance.
Ordinances by political subdivisions only have force when citing/referencing a state law and the purpose for such law.
Review the State adoption procedures.
Your political subdivision is actually violating your constitutional rights if it makes any demands on your property or liberty without following the procedures enacted by the State. In Michigan townships for example those procedures are in Act 246 of 1945, Chapter 41, 181-85 (findlaw.com).
After being cited for an offense that you believe you are not guilty of, notify the clerk that you are not accepting responsibility (pleading not guilty)
Demand your pre-trial hearing, a necessary first step in your due process.
Find a trusted friend or two to accompany you as a witness Prepare a statement with a list of your demands.
Demand, number one, a copy of the State law you violated.
Demand, number two, a copy of the oath statement made (probable cause).
This statement must provide a summary describing the violation you allegedly committed, and be sworn to (signed) by someone with firsthand knowledge of the wrongdoing. You will be able to cross examine that person under oath at trial.
If the prosecutor refuses to drop the charge at pre-trial demand a jury trial. The 7th Amendment guarantees a jury trial remedy for any offense of $20 or more. You will be taken before the judge, at that time notify the judge you require a discovery order to obtain the documentation necessary for your defense. This order will allow you to compel your accusers (police, ordinance official’s prosecutors etc.) to provide the documentation they claim to have in order to gain a conviction against you.
If any of these steps is denied, you should demand a dismissal based on the denial of your constitutionally guaranteed due process rights.
I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice, its free speech. This stuff should have been taught to all of us in high school.