Bumper stickers associated with the sovereign citizens movement (photo from the Southern Law Poverty Center)
Bumper stickers associated with the sovereign citizens movement (photo from the Southern Law Poverty Center)

A would-be speeding ticket in Lee County became 30 months of supervised probation and 160 hours of community service for a self-proclaimed “sovereign citizen” last week.

A Cary Man [name not published … read editor’s note at end of the story] was pulled over by a state trooper in Lee County for speeding a few months back, and instead of cooperating and providing his license and registration, the man rolled down his window about an inch and told the officer he wouldn’t comply. According to reports, he also advised the officer to “get back-up.”

This led to multiple officers forcing the man out of his car and arresting him for resisting an officer.

The man claimed to belong to the sovereign citizens movement, which according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, holds “truly bizarre, complex anti-government beliefs” and believes that “they get to decide which laws to obey and which to ignore … and they don’t think they sould have to pay taxes.” According to the SPLC, sovereigns are clogging up the courts with indecipherable filings and “when cornered, many of them lash out in rage, frustration and, in the most extreme cases, acts of deadly violence.”

In May 2010, for example, a father-son team of sovereigns murdered two police officers with an assault rifle when they were pulled over on the interstate while traveling through West Memphis, Ark.

In statements during the man’s sentencing last week in the Lee County Courthouse, Judge Paul Holcombe and Assistant D.A. Mike Beam both echoed the sentiment that the whole incident was clogging up the court.

“This incident was largely unnecessary,” Beam said. “We’re a nation of laws, and [the patrolmen] were just doing their jobs.”

“You were charged with doing 80 in a 65,” Judge Holcombe told the defendant during his sentencing. “If you’d just come to court, you would have paid a fine and walked out. Instead you have found yourself charged with criminal offenses, and now you have the potential of having significant effects on your driver’s license.

“Your actions have put me and the prosecutor in a position where it’s hard for us to do what we would have for other people charged with doing 80 in a 65.”

The defendant claimed he’d lost feeling in his hands due to the tightness of the handcuffs during his arrest, but said in court he did not plan to appeal his sentence. He sounded remorseful in his statement.

“It’s been a spiritual learning experience for me,” he said. “I learned a lot about myself. I don’t want these guys (law enforcement) to not like me. If they see my car upside down, I want them to violate the Fourth Amendment and bust my window out.”


Editor’s Note: The man’s name was kept from this report for multiple reasons. First, the purpose of the article is not to out the man or ruin his personal or professional life. Second, it doesn’t sound like a smart idea to anger a self-proclaimed sovereign citizen. Email me if you disagree. Cheers.