Monday, January 12, 2015

U.S. v. Neal (9th Cir. - Jan. 12, 2015)

A crazy guy with crazy beliefs decides that a dozen people have committed "crimes" against him and hence he's allowed to file "liens" against their "oaths of office".  So he fills in the blanks on some UCC forms and mails them to his mother with instructions to type 'em up and file them with the California Secretary of State.

Trust me that the guy's nutty.  Trust me that he's not alone.  There are lots of people who think that you're allowed to file similarly crazy "liens" on all sorts of absurd grounds.

Is this a socially beneficial practice?  No.  Is it somewhat of a pain in the butt if someone actually files an absurd "lien" against you with the Secretary of State?  Yeah.  Kinda.  It's obviously crazy, but you do have to go through the pain of getting it removed.

So what do they do to this guy?

They throw him in federal prison for seven-plus years.

This is a particularly surprising sentence given that you can do analogous things that are far, far worse than this and receive utterly no punishment whatsoever.  To take but one example, let's say that instead of trying to file absurd liens against someone, you actually file absurdly frivolous lawsuits against them.  The filing of a lawsuit is much more burdensome than the filing of a lien; they've got to hire lawyers, go to court, get the suit dismissed, etc.

What's the penalty for that.  Well, in an extreme case, the penalty is . . . a prefiling order that stops you from doing it again.  No incarceration at all.

Yet a lien gets you 87 months.

To say that such disparate treatment seems anomalous to me is an understatement.  (Especially when, as in this case, I'm fairly confident that the crazy dude who's filing the liens actually believes -- albeit absurdly -- that the dozen dudes actually harmed him and that he's "entitled" to file liens against them.  Seven years in prison for just writing a letter to his mother attempting to do that?  Seriously?  When a dude who files, say, a half-dozen frivolous lawsuits against his ex-wife just to harass her gets no punishment whatsoever?  Doesn't seem right.)