Guns, Border Guards, And The Magna Carta: The Freemen-on-the-Land Are Back In Alberta Courts

The Freemen-on-the-Land movement is back in Alberta courts and the spectre of OPCA (Organized Pseudolegal Commercial Argument) litigants has once more raised its head. On February 27, Justice Tilleman of the Court of Queen's Bench in Lethbridge handed down Fearn v Canada Customs, 2014 ABQB 114, one of the most comprehensive decisions regarding OPCA litigation since Meads and ANB v Hancock (both of which I have previously written about).

On October 11, 2013, Glenn Winningham Fearn, an American Freeman, attempted to cross the Canadian border. An incident occurred between Fearn and the Canadian Border Services Agency, resulting in Fearn's arrest and a weapons charge. The charges were heard in Provincial Court on March 3-6, but the decision has not yet been released. When released, that case will provide an interesting decision regarding how OPCA ideas operate in the Canadian criminal law context. The Fearn civil case is concomitant with the criminal trial - as much as any OPCA case can be.

Fearn brought an application to Queen's Bench seeking to halt the Provincial Court proceedings through several different remedies (or different terms for the same remedy) largely based on stays or orders of non-suit or prohibition. The grounds for this application were set out in a document titled "Notice of Objection and Non-Consent to your Roman Civil Law by Affidavit." The grounds were that he had previously filed a lawsuit in 2010 challenging the jurisdiction of Canada Customs to inspect individuals crossing the border, that Canada Customs had him listed as "armed and dangerous" in their system as an act of revenge, and that Canada Customs had done nothing to prove their "Roman Civil Law Statutory jurisdiction, except bring out their guns, and assault [him], and kidnap [him], and falsely imprison [him]."

Fearn's oral arguments included challenging Provincial Court's jurisdiction, claiming certain legislation was "pretend legislation," and that the Alberta Court of Appeal "sold their justice" on one of his prior suits in Alberta (Fearn has previously filed three OPCA suits in Canada, and seventeen OPCA actions in the United States). More worryingly, he also argued for the ability to use lethal force against Customs Officers if they arrest him in a way he deems unlawful.

Justice Tilleman rejected Fearn's application on three grounds:

  1. The application offended the rule against collateral attack,

  2. The alleged range of defects to Crown and court authority...

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