Guest Column: The Doreen Hendrickson Statement

… on the occasion of her sentencing (formally called an allocution)
Full statement on the site here

Editor’s note: I attended the sentencing hearing, and like the trial, it was one of the most outrageously contemptuous acts toward anything decent or human that I’ve seen any pack of public officials take part in. Nor have I led a particularly sheltered life. The fix was in, the federal mob bosses had handed down their orders to their nonentity enforcer-drones in justice and on the bench: “we’re going after women now, next month it will be children and invalids.” Doreen was in the crosshairs.

Well, we’ll see about that.

Hell’s a poppin’ out here in real people land: we have an appeal in progress, a major Pontiac Tribune video in the works, and are going to pressure Michigan public officials to do their jobs to interpose on behalf of protecting the Constitutional liberty of one Michigan’s premier leading ladies… and thus the rest of us who live in the Wolverine State. But tonight I simply want to present key excerpts from Doreen’s allocution; from her lips to God’s ears.

Stand up and cheer, then circulate EVERYWHERE. Go to the original page and respond to the call to action.— bw.

Doreen’s Elegant Words

… I want to explain what I believe is the legal dynamic of such contests, and what has been done to me that has led us to this day.

Our legal system here in America is designed to protect everyone’s right to make claims, rebut allegations and defend herself against the claims of others. One of the key ways in which these paramount goals are accomplished is by providing that no one can be told what she must say in a legal contest.

I get to say my piece, and the other side gets to says its piece. Each of us get to say, without hindrance, intimidation or interference, whatever we think serves to support our claims. If what is said by the two sides is in disagreement, an appropriate and duly-authorized agency or tribunal makes a determination as to the outcome in accordance with the relevant provisions of law.

No one, not even the government, gets to pre-emptively evade the contest or control its outcome by taking, or being given, control of what its opponents say– even if it really thinks what is being said or might be said is wrong. Both sides must rely on the strength of their own arguments to overcome those of their opponent, and are prohibited from using strong-arm tactics against each other. In fact, efforts to secure favorable testimony in such a contest by threats or coercion are crimes. Both sides must rely on the threat of a prosecution for perjury as their protection against deceit.

That’s how it works, that’s the only way it can work, and that’s the only way it is allowed to work under our law here in America, where a declared purpose of bringing the federal government into existence in the first place is identified in the preamble to the United States Constitution as being to “establish justice”. The First Amendment to that Constitution says no one can be told what to say, and the Fifth Amendment guarantees everyone the right to due process.

In keeping with these principles, prescriptions and proscriptions, not only is no organ of government allowed to order any person to relinquish her own claims, or to agree with another’s, but none has any plausible reason to do so– at least, no reason that is honest.

For me, though, eight years ago a judge issued just such orders, at the request of a government agency wanting to make claims to my property. I was ordered by this judge to repudiate my own freely-made testimony relevant to a couple of government claims and to create sworn declarations of belief that would instead validate the government’s competing claims. In another order I was told to refrain from disputing any future government claims.

The absurd pretext used to justify these plainly illegal orders was that I was only being told to say what was “correct”, as though my rights to control my own expressions and advocate for my own interests evaporate whenever some government official decides my expressions and advocacy are “incorrect”. This is ridiculous, and it is wrong– my rights are not subject to the whims of officialdom in this fashion.

Further, I was NOT simply being told to say what Nancy Edmunds decided was “correct”– I was being ordered to say that I BELIEVED what Nancy Edmunds decided was “correct”– or really, what my government opponent simply TOLD Nancy Edmunds was “correct”, even though no government official, from the Secretary of the Treasury to a lowly IRS worker, had been willing to sign off on the government’s assertions under any risk of penalty for being untruthful. Robert Metcalfe, the DOJ attorney who asked Nancy Edmunds to make me say I believed these assertions, had to resort to an unsigned, self-declaredly “informal” IRS examination report as his pretended evidence that the government itself believed this nonsense.

Nonetheless, without even so much as a single hearing of any kind, Nancy Edmunds ordered me to say I believed what she herself had no reason whatever to believe to be true, at the government’s mere request, and over my objections and formal, sworn dispute of all its allegations of fact and law. As requested, Edmunds ordered me to say I believe that my earnings are of a taxable sort, suitable to declare to be “income” as that term is meant in tax law.

But I don’t believe this. In fact, I know full well that it isn’t true, just as the government knows full well that it isn’t true, as is unambiguously proven by no government official being willing to declare it as a personal belief over a signature.

That a government official CAN make such a declaration is why government control of speech such as I am accused of criminally resisting is fundamentally and grotesquely wrong as a matter of law and principle. It is also why there is NEVER, EVER a legitimate government interest or necessity requiring or justifying this ugly mechanism for its fulfillment. It’s this simple: If the government believes something is correct and needs to be said, it can have one of its own officials say it. In regard to the matters involved in this case, there is actually a statute that says not only that such a declaration MUST be made by a government official, but that when one is, that declaration is good and sufficient for all legal purposes.

If what that official swears to is then deemed to be correct by the proper authority– say, Judge Nancy Edmunds, perhaps– and what I say is deemed to be incorrect, then that decision can be enforced without any declaration of agreement or belief being needed from me.

Thus, the orders sought by the government and issued by Edmunds are neither necessary nor proper, both of which standards must be met, as specified at 26 USC 7402(a), for her to be authorized under law to issue any kind of injunction. Even if the orders Edmunds issued to me were not specifically prohibited by the First and Fifth Amendments of the Constitution, they would still not be within her lawful power to make.

Of course, beyond the creepily sick proposition that I was just being ordered to say what was “correct”– however fraudulently and unlawfully– there was another pretext given by the government in asking Judge Edmunds’ to issue her orders. This was the even more creepy and downright scary argument that my being forced to say I believe what the government wanted would discourage other Americans from making claims of their own which the government dislikes.

Needless to say, the government self-servingly characterizes such disfavored claims as “false”. Part of its elaborate pretense in the lawsuit brought in Edmunds’ court is the phony assertion that my husband’s book Cracking the Code argues that only federal, state and local government workers are subject to the income tax, and the equally phony assertion that claims like mine on my freely-made tax returns are based on this falsely ascribed and patently false and frivolous notion.

But you know what? I characterize the government’s assertions as “false”, just as do the many thousands of other Americans making claims the government hopes to chill by attacking me– and unlike Nancy Edmunds, we’ve actually read the book. Sorting out who is right in each case is why we have a legal system, and keeping that legal system real and legitimate is why our First and Fifth Amendment proscriptions and prescriptions prohibit efforts by the government to evade its requirements by ordering people to say what it wants to hear through the means of cooperative judges, or attempting to chill inconvenient speech in advance by means of such orders.

Here is how the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals put this in Beaty v. United States, 937 F.2d 288:

“A central tenet of our republic–a characteristic that separates us from totalitarian regimes throughout the world–is that the government and private citizens resolve disputes on an equal playing field in the courts. When citizens face the government in the federal courts, the job of the judge is to apply the law, not to bolster the government’s case.”

Everyone in this room knows this. Everyone in this room knows the government’s call to Nancy Edmunds to issue her orders to me was wrong and lawless– as are the orders themselves– and that the pretense of a legitimate government interest in chilling the free expression of other Americans was even more broadly and darkly criminal. It does not speak well of Nancy Edmunds that she didn’t refer Mr. Metcalfe for prosecution upon being presented with his demand and its revealing justifications.

Here today, those speaking for the government are making the same demented, un-American and Constitution-defying argument. They advise you to sentence me harshly as a “deterrent”. But a deterrent to what?

It can’t be as a deterrent to resisting government-requested orders from a court dictating what they must say they believe to be true and correct. No such orders have ever been issued to anyone in American history before this was done to my husband and me, and none have never been issued since. No surprise– orders of this sort are ILLEGAL.

Therefore, what the government must mean is to deter other Americans from testifying freely and honestly on their own tax forms, or anywhere else they are asked or expected to say what they believe to be true and correct, or have a need to make claims on their own behalf or assert and defend their interests in a legal contest. Thus, the government’s call for a harsh sentence is a call upon this court to use a sentence upon me to commit a crime against the speech, conscience and due process rights of other Americans– indeed, all Americans.

I note that whoever spoke for the government in its response to my sentencing memorandum also made much of the fact that one of my supporters started a petition on my behalf a few weeks ago. The government says those who have signed the petition are examples of Americans needing to be deterred by the sentence you issue today. I suppose the government attorneys here also feel that the good people behind me [and filling the hallway outside] need to be deterred from exercising THEIR rights, too.

Frankly, those who have signed that petition, and those here today, are examples of the millions of Americans who need to be reassured by what you do today that their rights will be respected by public officials, and that their courts recognize that it is efforts to chill their exercise of speech and due process rights that are criminal, not resistance to such efforts.

Here is what the person who started that petition has as its “mission statement”:

“We, the undersigned citizens of America, are concerned for the security of our rights, seeing them threatened by the attack on those of our sister, Doreen Hendrickson. Doreen is plainly being punished by the United States for exercising her rights of speech and conscience, and her right to due process of law in any legal contest between herself and the United States, whether that contest concerns tax matters or otherwise.

We call upon our public servant, federal district court judge Victoria Roberts, to abandon this violation of Doreen’s rights and to exercise her authority under the federal rules to arrest this judgment, dismiss the indictment under which Doreen was tried, or otherwise vacate and dispose of the lawless charges and proceedings against Doreen.”

I don’t know anything about whether the remedies being asked for in those words are available at this point, but for the record, I echo them now.

I also ask you to understand that all of the petition signers, and all the folks here today, and all the many tens of thousands who are following this case and will continue to do so are Americans who, in their own study of the law, have concluded that what Judge Edmunds did is wrong and unlawful, and that what I have done is not.

All these good Americans are not alone, either. They are joined by others who may not be following this case today, but have already staked out their positions very plainly.

Let’s start with the real heavyweight experts:

“Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech”; and “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law.”

Now here’s the United States Supreme Court in Armstrong v. Manzo, 380 U.S. 545, explaining the meaning of “due process of law”:

“A fundamental requirement of due process is “the opportunity to be heard.” Grannis v. Ordean, 234 U.S. 385, 394. It is an opportunity which must be granted at a meaningful time and in a meaningful manner.”

In Flaim v. Med. Coll. of Ohio, 418 F.3d 629, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals says:

“Notice and an opportunity to be heard remain the most basic requirements of due process.”

“Opportunity to be heard” means an opportunity to be heard saying what I want said, not what my government opponent wants to hear said. Plainly, an injunction telling me I will be punished for saying things the government doesn’t want said on a tax form by which I testify and make my claims in a contest over who gets ownership of my money is a violation of my rights, and so is an injunction telling me that I must say what my opponent wishes said on such forms.

Here is the Supreme Court on the freedom of expression issue in Agency for Int’l Development v. Alliance for Open Society Int’l, Inc., 133 S. Ct. 2321, a case decided just a month before I was arrested for exercising my speech rights:

“It is, however, a basic First Amendment principle that “freedom of speech prohibits the government from telling people what they must say.” … “At the heart of the First Amendment lies the principle that each person should decide for himself or herself the ideas and beliefs deserving of expression, consideration, and adherence.” … “The government may not . . . compel the endorsement of ideas that it approves.”.

“[W]e cannot improve upon what Justice Jackson wrote for the Court 70 years ago: “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.””

And here is how the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals puts it in Newsom v. Morris, 888 F.2d 371:

“[E]ven minimal infringement upon First Amendment values constitutes irreparable injury…”


“[D]irect retaliation by the state for having exercised First Amendment freedoms in the past is particularly proscribed by the First Amendment.”

Doesn’t that last line bring things right home? What is happening here today is the government asking you, Judge Roberts, to retaliate against me for exercising my First Amendment freedoms by expressing myself as I felt was right and true in the course of exercising my Fifth Amendment right to due process. That is exactly the retaliation that the Sixth Circuit says is “particularly proscribed by the First Amendment”.

So, am I missing something? Didn’t every government official in this room– including these government attorneys who are urging you to engage in this retaliation, and to “do it hard” so as to put a proper fear of the same treatment into all of these other people here, and those around the country who have signed that petition, and everyone else who is following this case– didn’t you all take oaths to uphold and defend the Constitution by which the Sixth Circuit says this punishment of me today is particularly proscribed?

Nancy Edmunds issued orders at the government’s request abridging my First Amendment freedoms.

I have been declared by a jury (or at least part of a jury, but only maybe, really, since it may be that not a single juror found that I did one or the other of these things) to have resisted those orders by exercising my First Amendment freedoms by way of expressing myself freely on my 2008 tax return, and failing to express myself with government-dictated words repudiating my freely-made 2002 and 2003 returns.

Now we are here today with the government asking that I be punished for those exercises of my First Amendment freedoms.

Is this not a particularly proscribed direct retaliation for my exercise of First Amendment freedoms?

Does not “particularly proscribed” mean, “not allowed”, as in “no one, including anyone here today, is allowed to punish me for refusing to let my speech be controlled by the government and refusing to abandon my right to due process”?

I don’t claim to be a legal expert, but I’m not stupid, either, and yet I do not understand how I can lawfully have been put through what I have suffered already, much less anything further.

Judge Roberts, you are aware that I take issue with many aspects of my trial and the way its outcome was achieved. I have detailed a number of those issues in post-trial motions, and alluded to others. I expect vindication in the appellate court and I think you have to acknowledge that I have good reason for that expectation. In light of this fact, for me to suffer punishment prior to having my opportunity to be vindicated by the appellate court would be a profound injustice.

For that reason, and for all the technical reasons that Mr. Cedrone has detailed in my sentencing memorandum and here in person today why it would be proper and appropriate even if no appeal were intended, I ask you to exercise your discretion here today with the lightest of hands.

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