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United States of America v. Deborah Ahmad Bey


April 2, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Milton I. Shadur Senior United States District Judge


This criminal case was reassigned to this Court's calendar last month from that of its good friend and colleague Honorable William Hibbler, just a few days before Judge Hibbler's untimely death. At that time the case had been scheduled to go to trial in late April 2012, and it appeared most unlikely that Judge Hibbler would be in a position to conduct the scheduled trial (hence the need for the reassignment). For present purposes there is no need to discuss all of the developments that have taken place during the short time span that the case has been before this Court, although one aspect other than the motion to dismiss dealt with in this opinion bears mention later.

Because it appears that Judge Hibbler did not resolve all of the myriad motions that had been launched by pro se defendant Deborah Ahmad Bey ("Ahmad Bey"), some further digging into the voluminous docket (which has fully 99 entries at this point) is needed to see just which matters still remain undecided. But in any event, at the last status hearing on March 29 (the first such hearing having been held just a week earlier) Ahmad Bey urged that this Court address her most recent motion, captioned "Challenged Jurisdiction of Federal District Court" (Dkt. 95), the Judge's Copy of which was delivered to this Court's chambers on March 21, 2012 (just after Judge Hibbler's death). This memorandum opinion and order therefore turns to that subject.

Nothing is to be gained by criticizing any non-lawyer such as Ahmad Bey for an entirely understandable inability to master all of the intricacies that are typically presented by complex legal concepts, and this Court will not do so here. Suffice it to say that Ahmad Bey's purported jurisdictional argument reflects a classic misconception of the requirements that must be met by a criminal indictment. Quite apart from other flaws in Ahmad Bey's pro se submission, it is simply wrong for her to assert that this "federal court is without jurisdiction of the offense" (Motion at 6) because "the government failed to allege the criminal activity took place on land where the jurisdiction over the land had been ceded to the Federal Government from the state by state legislature and accepted by the United States pursuant to Title 40 USCA Section 255" (id).

What Ahmad Bey has sought to cobble together through snippets drawn from several sources plainly poses no serious challenge to jurisdiction. What she has argued is akin to the position advanced a generation ago by the tax protestors who claimed that wages and salaries were not income because the Internal Revenue Code did not take account of any "depreciation" of -- that is, of the wear and tear on -- the human beings who rendered the services that brought in those earnings. Both that position and Ahmad Bey's contention were obviously authored by others and struck a responsive chord in persons such as the protestors and Ahmad Bey -- and both were and are legally frivolous.

In short, Ahmad Bey's motion must be and is denied. Moreover, in an important sense her most recent submission -- a March 28 filing that she captions "Counter_Claim_Affidavit" (Dkt. 99) -- both underscores the fallacious predicate for her jurisdictional motion and bears as well on the concern that this Court expressed at the most recent status hearing on March 29.*fn1

Because no effort to summarize or characterize that most recent filing could adequately convey its outre flavor or substance, a photocopy is attached to this opinion. It calls to mind the caption that the New Yorker magazine sometimes attached in years past to brief fillers of a bizarre nature, inserted when a major article ended in mid-column and such a brief insert would conveniently fill the space. In that situation the editors were prone to label those inserts "Department of Clotted Nonsense."

In this instance Ahmad Bey's submission has reinforced this Court's concern, expressed during the March 29 status hearing, as to her possible incompetence to stand trial. This Court does not of course venture anything that would remotely approach a claimed professional opinion in such an area in which it is not a professional, but the developments at that most recent status hearing that triggered this Court's expression of concern in that regard (concerns that normally call for resolution pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §§ 4241 et seq.) are certainly not allayed by this most recent filing. That subject will be pursued further at the previously-scheduled April 5, 2012 status hearing, at which time the parties will also be expected to apprise this Court of any still-pending motions that need resolution (meanwhile time continues to be excluded for speedy trial purposes under both 18 U.S.C. §§ 3161(h)(1)(D) and 3161(h)(7)(A) and (b)(ii)).

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