July 19, 2006

Sympathy for the public defender

From The Panda's Thumb:

When pressed... to enter a plea of either guilty or not guilty, (Pensacola evangelist Kent) Hovind said he wished to enter a plea of “subornation of false muster...”

...I would just like to say that everyone here at PT would like to express their sympathies to the public defender assigned to Hovind. I suppose public defenders see all sorts of weird things, but Hovind will be a handful.

I was pleased to see that the article points to this recent opinion from the Washington Court of Appeals (Div. II) for a footnote on “subornation of false muster.” The opinion is of the "DO NOT CITE" variety, so this sort of mustering at arraignments won't be gaining ground in courtrooms up here.

Update: The case is State of Washington v. Michael John Didier, No. 33376-7-II (07/11/06). Didier was convicted of residential burglary and violation of a restraining order:

Mr. Didier considers himself a 'citizen of heaven' rather than a U.S. citizen and works with Remedies at Law, which he describes as an 'ecclesiastical law firm' staffed by non-bar members...

Mr. Didier's own testimony before the jury included assertions that he was a 'citizen of heaven,' not a U.S. citizen or Washington resident. He objected to being subject to Washington's courts at all.

You can connect the dots from Michael Didier to Kent Hovind in two moves: for example, Didier's employer and Remedies at Law's director, Glenn Stoll, has been named by Kent Hovind as the manager of his church property in Florida.

"False muster," or calling "here" for an absent soldier at roll call, is listed as an offense in the 1778 Articles of War. An attempted plea of "suborning false muster" seems to suggest that answering "present" when called on would not only be submitting to the jurisdiction of the court, but would be participating in perjury. The inferrence is that the defendant believes himself to be under martial law or in a military court, and not subject to the court's authority. Perhaps the flag in the Pensacola courtroom is edged in golden fringe.