Sovereign Citizen Found Guilty in Murphy Court Case
Jan. 29, 2019 - A trial by jury was held upon request by defendant, Gordon Eugene Scott. Scott pled not guilty on charges of speeding in a school zone and using a wireless listening device while in a school zone. He chose to represent himself at this trial.
Approximately 19 Murphy residents gathered in the Murphy Municipal Courtroom as potential jurors (one potential juror was dismissed since they no longer lived in Murphy). The prosecutor, Ashley McSwain with Municipal Law Firm (city attorney), proceeded with voir dire (preliminary questioning to determine if any prejudices exist). Questions included “Does anyone know me, Gordon Eugene Scott, Judge Natalie Banuelos or Officer Beatus Swai? Has anyone been charged with speeding in a school zone? Using a wireless listening device in a school zone? Received any criminal charges by the City of Murphy where you felt you were treated unfairly?” The responses were noted. Scott was given the opportunity to ask questions as well. His questions were, “Have any of you read the constitution? Do you know that it is not required to have a driver’s license in the U.S.?” Judge Banuelos stated, “You can’t make statements about what the law is.” He had no other questions.
The jury was sworn in and consisted of two females and four males.
The prosecutor stated, “…It all falls back to the safety of our children. He was driving almost 15 mph. over the speed limit. He looked down to answer his cell phone…the officer asked him, “Why were you looking down?” The defendant replied, “It rang, so I answered it.” …It appeared that he knew he was in a school zone.” The defendant said, “I didn’t know I was in a school zone. I was going 45 mph; the posted speed limit is 45. I didn’t see lights that it was a school zone. The parking lot of the high school was completely empty. It was 4 o’clock in the afternoon, there were no kids in sight.”
Officer Beatus Swai was the officer who issued Scott the citations on Sept. 4, 2018. He was sworn in as a witness. The prosecutor asked questions which clarified Ofc. Swai’s 16.5 years of experience as an officer. They reviewed his police academy experience, levels of licensing and that he takes continuing education. They reviewed that procedures were followed to assure the LIDAR (Light Detection And Ranging, a police laser) was working properly that day. They reviewed laws regarding speeding and using cell phones in school zones. They reviewed the fact that Ofc. Swai clocked Scott driving 44 mph in a 30 mph school zone around the 800 block of N. Murphy Road.
Dash cam and body cam video was shown of Ofc. Swai pulling over Scott, as well as the conversation held between the two. Ofc. Swai asked, “Were you on your phone in a school zone?” Scott replied, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. It rang so I answered it.”
During Scott’s opportunity to question Ofc. Swai, he asked, “Do you remember what you were doing on (date not understood) Dec. 2018?” Ofc. Swai did not. Scott said, “We had a previous court date set on that date, that’s why I’m asking.” His next question was, “Have you ever lied?” Ofc. Swai said that he had when he was younger. Scott said, “So, you’re a confirmed liar.” Judge Banuelos said, “Your questions need to be limited to the Sept. 4 date.” The next question from Scott was, “Were you a government officer that day?” Ofc. Swai said, “Yes, I was a police officer that day.”
Scott requested to enter his driver’s license into evidence. Judge Banuelos said he would need to be in the witness box to do so. He entered the witness box and testified, “When I handed the officer my driver’s license, 308 was written there. This is my reservation of my rights that are god given to me.” The prosecutor objected to this evidence, the judge overruled and the evidence was admitted. He then said, “I would like to enter into evidence my ticket.” The judge asked, “Do you have that with you?” Scott replied, “No. I thought you had a copy since I sent it to this court.” The judge informed him that he couldn’t enter something into evidence that he didn’t bring with him. The prosecutor questioned him regarding speeding and the use of the phone in a school zone.
During closing arguments, the prosecutor said, “Members of the jury, the offense is speeding in a school zone (fine is $1 - $200) and use of a wireless communication device in school zone (fine $1 - $200). The defendant has pled not guilty.” Scott said, “As you can see, I was denied my constitutional rights. We are at war, it’s a maritime situation…”
When the jury returned, they pronounced a guilty verdict of both charges and sentenced him to the maximum fine ($200) for each charge.
The jury was excused.
The judge explained to Scott that he had 10 days to appeal and that he would need to check with the clerk for the exact amount that would be charged for an appeal.
Due to some of the unusual comments made during the trial, an inquiry was made to the judge after the proceedings as to what the defendant was referencing when he mentioned maritime situation, his constitutional rights and 308 being on his license. The judge informed that Scott is a Sovereign Citizen.
“Sovereign citizen is a term used to refer to a political movement which grew out of a belief in government abuses of power. Members often refuse to hold social security cards or driver's licenses and avoid using zip codes. Sovereign citizens believe that U.S. citizens are either "Fourteenth Amendment citizens" (who are subject to the federal and state laws and taxes) or "sovereign citizens", who are subject only to common law or "constitutional law" (or both), but are not bound to obey statutory law. No court has ever upheld these claims. Sovereign citizens may also be referred to as "freemen" or "common law citizens". (definitions.uslegal.com/s/sovereign-citizen)