Freeman on the Land: Canadian lawyer responds | UK Human Rights Blog | 23 Dec 2020
What’s a judge to do when the Magna Carta/Freeman on the Land crew threaten you with hanging and start menacing court clerks as well?
As Rosalind English noted in a previous post, Canada’s latest Freemen judicial decisions in AVI and MHVB and Jacqueline Robinson (I and II) have had to answer those pointed questions.
Rosalind’s note canvassed the first decision by Justice Robert Graesser of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench calling out the actions of Jacqueline Robinson who had inserted herself into a high-conflict child custody case with disastrous results for the mother she was ‘helping’. Robinson’s efforts included invoking Article 61 of the 1215 Magna Carta despite it having been repealed some 800 years previous and a demand for the return of the mother’s “property” (read ‘child’). With Robinson’s Magna Carta Lawful Rebellion help, the mother went from having shared child access to no access and being removed as a guardian.
Given Robinson’s positive legal harm to the mother and her threats of “the gallows” if the demands were not met, Justice Graesser barred Robinson from purporting to represent the mother in any way before the Court. He also invited submissions from Robinson as to whether further restrictions barring her from representing or communicating except on her own behalf with any Court in Alberta were appropriate.
Rather than take the judicial warning to heart, however, Robinson decided to demonstrate the maxim that ‘some people just don’t get it.’ Robinson increased her Magna Carta scorched earth campaign and started targeting court staff as well threatening that they were aiding and abetting treason, comparing them to Nazi war criminals who invoked the failed ‘just doing my job’ defence, and warning their fate would be subject to people’s courts.
Justice Graesser was having none of it, which brings us to MHVB and Jacqueline Robinson II (link AVI v MHVB, 2020 ABQB 790 (CanLII) issued on 16 December 2020. While noting the “temptation to ignore OPCAs [Organized Pseudolegal Commercial Arguments] and treat them as irritants,” Justice Graesser stated that where the numbers betray a successful organizing effort, “the public needs to be protected from them.”
Given Robinson’s guru role in this and other cases, Justice Graesser prohibited Robinson from providing legal advice and from representing or communicating with any Court in Alberta other than on her own behalf. Further, Graesser warned that her conduct to date may already constitute the criminal offence of intimidating a justice system participant under Section 423.1 of the Criminal Code and that the Court would consider any future disobedience to be criminal contempt of court.
In rendering the decision, Justice Graesser sent the clear message that the Court had the inherent power to defend itself from Robinson’s threats and intimidation against the Court and its staff.
Comparing Robinson to a Typhoid Mary of the Freemen conspiracy theory world, Graesser rejected any argument the expanded legal controls on Robinson were overkill saying:
This may appear to be the use of a sledgehammer to crush an ant. I would instead use the analogy of an inoculation to stop a virus. OPCA and MCLR gurus harm people. Ms. Robinson has already harmed MHVB and her family. These gurus teach illusions that will predictably fail. They promise much, but their clientele gets less than nothing. [para 53]
In what can only be hoped to be a message that will reach people within or at risk of falling into the Freemen legal quagmire, Justice Graesser pointed out that the Magna Carta Lawful Rebellion is no different from all those Freemen incarnations that have come before:
These schemes are nothing more than cons, led by people who rely and feed on the oft quoted statement attributed to P.T. Barnum (of circus fame): a sucker is born every minute. That is as true now as it was when spoken more than 150 years ago. The Courts are not suckers. And the Courts will not be intimidated.
This disturbing case highlights an ongoing story of human family tragedy and parents in desperation clutching at straws. While it is blindingly obvious that any Court anywhere will not take kindly to being threatened in any way or, more commonly, by having it’s jurisdiction questioned, these are incidental issues to the family and family life in question. Though there may well be deeper issues in dispute about how the child welfare principle has developed and been interpreted and applied across most common-law jurisdictions (Industrialised countries), for a fighting chance at success the critical issues must always be addressed coherently by applying the law to the facts as they stand. There is no getting away from this. What is fundamental is that any Court proceedings including any Appeal against steps already ordered must cover
(a) the aggrieved parent’s fitness to parent at the present time, including steps taken to reduce/eliminate the risk of harm identified previously,
(b) a point-by-point rebuttal of the opposing party’s case (whether the other parent in private proceedings or social services in public law proceedings) showing why this proposal is better,\
(c) the importance of maintaining not severing the parent/child bond,
(d) proposals, including practical steps, to minimise and alleviate any disruption to the child(ren) concerned, and,
(e) how the long-term benefits of parent/child contact and/or reunification can be safely managed or eliminated looking forwards hence outweigh any short-term disruption