Sovereign citizens and lawyers: how to tell them apart

Sovereign citizens think that a name written in CAPITAL LETTERS denotes a different and special meaning. Lawyers know that it is really italics that do that.

Sovereign citizens write strange phrases on the top of their legal documents seeking to unilaterally impose certain legal obligations on another party. Lawyers may write without prejudice, or in confidence, or send statutory demands, but they certainly don’t indulge in that strange carry-on.

Sovereign citizens say an old edition of Black’s Law Dictionary as an authoritative source of law. Lawyers know that the law isn’t what a some editors of an early 20th century dictionary say it is; it’s what a bunch of judges in 18th century England says it is.

Sovereign citizens insist that their identity in one capacity is separate to that in another capacity and that protects them from liability. Lawyers cite Re GJ Mannix and sue people in their role as trustee.

Sovereign citizens get their arguments laughed out of court. Lawyers get their arguments laughed out of court but charge $400 per hour for the privilege.

Sovereign citizens think that there are magic words you can say that mean the state cannot control you. Lawyers know that it’s no exaggeration to say that an applicant for habeas corpus pretty much only needs to say those words and if the state can’t prove the legality of their detention then a Court will order the release of the applicant on the spot, and if that isn’t the equivalent of magic words then I’m not sure what is.

Sovereign citizens make strange claims about admiralty law. Lawyers also make strange claims about admiralty law because pretty much no one has read Part 25 of the High Court Rules 2016.

Sovereign citizens assert that the judiciary is a shadowy undemocratic cabal of well-connected people. Lawyers know the judiciary is a bunch of people often from the same handful of families appointed in the absolute discretion of the Attorney-General.

Sovereign citizens allege the state creates legal fictions around births and birth certificates. Lawyers know that the state doesn’t do that. Except with the entire concept of adoption.

Sovereign citizens think that they can upend an entire existing legal order simply by asserting saying that sovereignty exists. Lawyers know that only William Hobson could do that.

Sovereign citizens’ approach to law involves picking and choosing some statutes to apply while seemingly ignoring others, as if there is a way to ignore some primary legislation. Lawyers only do that if they’re applying Fitzgerald v R.

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