How widely influential has Meads v Meads been in North American jurisprudence?

How influential has the Meads v. Meads decision been in North American jurisprudence?

That massive dissertation and analysis of Sov Cit / FotL thinking by Justice Rooke seems to have gotten a lot of play in certain circles. I’ve seen it cited quite a few times here on SDMB, several times just recently. Two posters linked it just in this current nearby thread.

My question: How widely influential has this been in North American jurisprudence – in the United States as well as Canada? Or even across The Pond and elsewhere?

Have lawyers and judges from coast to coast heard of this, read it, and studied it? It is taught in law schools by now? Rooke certainly seems to have written The Book on the subject – he address the backgrounds of these ideologies; the kinds of arguments they bring before the courts; and the ways courts might respond. This last point is especially helpful, as some judges seem at a loss to know how to respond to arguments of incomprehensible gobbledygook and word salad.

He writes with reference to Canadian law of course, but much of the document is useful material quite aside from whatever the jurisdiction may be. He notes that Sov Cits and FotL types are fond of citing certain bits of the U. S. Constitution and Uniform Commercial Code – even in Canada. (Oops.) Do they even do that in England too?

I saw somewhere that the year it was written, it was in the top ten legal papers/decisions researched that year. Or read, something along those lines.

I doubt many American lawyers/judges, or those in other jurisdictions, have any exposure whatsoever to Meads v. Meads unless and until somebody shows up in their courtroom or case spouting off absurd theories or arguments. When they go to research what the heck is this guy talking about, then they find citations leading back to Meads.

Sovcit arguments are just so esoteric that I’m sure most lawyers will never see one in their own practice. However, judges who do have to deal with those nutjobs have cited the case across much of the Anglosphere, including courts in Australia, Ireland (Northern and the Republic), Scotland, and Jersey as well as Canada and the U.S. (see, e.g., para. 45 of this decision for some examples).

As a lawyer, I have read it for amusement value - the amusing bit being the positions and arguments that Meads refutes, not the refutation.

No, it’s not studied in law schools, SFAIK. Sovereign citizen positions don’t come up much in practice, and from an academic point of view they are so bizarre that there is little to be learned from refuting them.

It’s rather like having a fire extinguished in your house: you know it’s there if you ever need it, but otherwise you don’t use it.

No - If I have a fire extinguished in my house, I am happy that it was extinguished but very unhappy about the damage it caused.

ach! typos, typos, typos. The bane of my existence.

Should be “fire extinguisher”.

It’s little more than an amusing curiosity in American jurisprudence. I’m sure that a court or prosecutor will happily cite to it if the relevant issues arise, but beyond that it doesn’t have much importance.

I had one appointed client who was a sovereign citizen. He complained that his child support amount was a form of involuntary servitude and would not pay. He also stated that he had no contract with the child’s mother or the child to provide that level of support. He calculated the bare bones support obligation and would pay that, but not the formula or the “incomes shares” amount.

He was about $6,500 behind and had called the family court judge a “terrorist.” He was now facing felony charges of willfully failing to pay child support. I had called the prosecutor before I met with him and he agreed to dismiss the charges if my guy paid the arrearage, or if we would provide a financial statement, he would hold the prosecution in abeyance if we agreed on a repayment plan. Very fair.

The client comes into my office and starts spouting his sovereign citizen crap. I was his third lawyer because the other lawyers did not understand the “common law.” I gave him about ten minutes so he could get it off his chest, and then I told him straight out that one of a few things were going to happen: 1) I would resign from his case if he requested, 2) If he fails to avail himself of #1, I would not be presenting those arguments to the Court, and 3) if he persisted in making those arguments, he would go to prison, and not me, another lawyer, or him going pro se could prevent that.

I then printed off a copy of Meads v. Meads and told him to take it home and read it, then call me within 72 hours and tell me how he would like to proceed. He came in the next day with a cashier’s check for $6,500 payable to his ex-wife.

I’m going to speculate it has no legal influence outside of Canada. Some of Meads’ arguments were based on claims he made under US law, which of course has no effect in Canada. And any claims he made based on Canadian law would have no effect in the United States. So any precedents would be nation-specific.

The only relevance the case would have in an American court would be to act as an example of how to assemble an equivalent decision applicable within the American legal system.

That said, I’m sure plenty of American judges and lawyers have read the decision and enjoyed it.

Okay, I just finished reading this entire decision (Crossroads-DMD Mortgage Investment Corporation v Adam Christian Gauthier, written by Sandra Schulz, Master in Chambers, Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta, Edmonton, Nov. 6, 2015).

Not only does Schulz cite numerous cases in Canada and internationally that have, in turn, cited and affirmed Meads; but she also directly cites a bunch of other cases internationally (mostly in Australia) that have addressed the same Sov Cit argument(s) that are at the core of Gauthier’s so-called “case” here. Gauthier makes a shit-ton of the same vacuous arguments that occur repeatedly, verbatim or nearly so in a lot of these cases. She traces these back to a DIY Sov Cit legal self-help book called How to Screw ‘Your’ Bank from which these arguments, and ditzy legal forms, are freely cut-and-pasted, which Gauthier likewise did here. Schulz notes that she herself was able to track down and review a copy of this DIY legal quackery classic.

I’m impressed by the volume of international legal background research Schulz must have done, or otherwise had at her disposal, to discover all this. It’s also impressive how much of the various courts’ and judges’ (Rooke, Schulz, et many al) time and effort has to go into researching and responding to these kinds of cases. The writing of these decisions alone is way beyond any Freshman English Composition term paper. :slight_smile:

In light of the above remarks: This, and that’s plenty influential enough!

No formal “legal influence” maybe, but clearly we have a lot of the same kinds of quackish arguments making the rounds internationally, and judges internationally are paying attention to one another in their analyses and responses to these cases.

I think this pretty much confirms my hypotheses in the OP, that Meads v Meads – and furthermore, whole bunches of these cases internationally – are in fact widely influential internationally – Even if all the judges must then adjust their legal decisions according to the local laws (which, after all, seem to be pretty similar on things like this).

I don’t know that they’re widely influential, so much as widely useful. In Meads, Rooke has done the heaving lifting of analysing freemannish arguments and positions, and dismantling them in detail, and this saves other judges from having to do the same; they can just cite Meads, with a few words about how it is relevant to their own jurisdiction and/or the particular facts before them. But if Meads had never been written, the outcome of all those other cases would have been the same; freemannery is on a hiding to nothing. Meads isn’t particularly influential, then, in affecting the course of development of the common law; it’s just a very convenient and comprehensive summary of why freemannery is the sh!te that judges throughout the common law world already know it to be.

An influential case, I think, is one which serves as a precedent for a novel principle, especially a principle which comes to be applied in a variety of different contexts. Meads is a particularly thorough articulation of already well-established law; that’s useful rather than influential.

You are correct, of course, in your assertion that Canadian law is not binding upon the United States federally, nor upon any State in the union. Neither is it binding upon any Commonwealth member state, or the US. Similarly, US federal and state law, as well as that of the Commonwealth, is not binding upon Canada’s, or its provinces’, law.

But in the common-law tradition, we can look to each other’s decisions, and see what might be possibly useful. That seems to me to be the approach other jurisdictions have taken towards Meads: it’s not a precedent, but it serves to inform courts about OPCA litigants. Perhaps we might better classify Meads as informational, where non-Canadian courts can use its information to decide cases within the context of their own laws, as you suggest.

In the common law world, the judgments of the higher courts of your own jurisdiction may be “binding”, ut those of other jurisdictions are usually said to be “persuasive” - meaning, depending on the similarity of the facts and the law, and the status of the court involved in the cited judgment, you take them seriously and don’t lightly depart from them.

Meads will be fairly persuasive because it’s addressing questions that are common to most or all common-law jurisdictions, and because it’s thoroughly researched and closely argued.

I do not disagree. As a lawyer in Alberta, where Meads is binding at Queen’s Bench and below, I feel confident in saying that Meads is persuasive at higher courts in Alberta, and could be in courts in other jurisdictions.

And where I am, is solidly in the common-law world: stare decisis, like decides like, and so on. Problem is, when the common-law crosses jurisdictions: Meads is an Albertan decision (note that I do not say “Canadian,” as Meads is not binding in any Canadian province except Alberta). If courts in the UK, Australia, and the US, choose to adopt Meads as useful in some way, that is their business.

As a lawyer, I already know about common-law precedents, obviously. As indicated above, I do not expect US courts, UK courts, or Australian courts to accept Meads. I do expect them to read and understand Meads, and to apply it, even though it can only be persuasive, as necessary.

I see your point. But sovereign citizenship legitimacy is not a divided issue. I can’t imagine there’s any judge that needed to be persuaded that these claims were ridiculous. So an outline of why these claims are wrong isn’t needed as a general treatise. And its value as a specific list of how these claims aren’t in accord with Canadian law ends at the border.

I did a search on the case’s “influence” and saw it being quoted by a judge in Ireland.

For obvious reasons non-Canadian courts cannot directly use it. It’s a useful guide, though, and there should be a Coles Notes version.

Some articles discussing it said judges occasionally misused it (referring to OCPA when it isn’t there, for instance).

This. A judge does not need to say that a defendant’s argument that he was not “driving” but merely “travelling” is dismissed under the reasoning of Meads v. Meads. The argument is dismissed because it is goofy. Yes, you have a right to travel, but that right is subject to reasonable regulations of the state police power, and requiring basic proficiency in getting a driver’s license is one such reasonable regulation. Cite–thousands of cases. Guilty.

This is what I would say. The decision is a detailed review of a particular situation, but the issues of law it addresses were never a matter of controversy or disagreement. There is nothing novel that courts were looking for a direction to go in.

It’s not influential because every jurisdiction will already have agreed with all its legal conclusions. It’s not blazing any trails.

Having read the decision in its entirety, I don’t see how it really adds anything new to the discussion. The value is that it brings together otherwise unrelated cases under a single reference. Otherwise, each judge encountering an OPCA litigant for the first time would have to hear, consider, and rebut the arguments. Having been educated on how to recognize these litigants, they can now say, “Oh, one of these guys,” and toss them in the pile.

Which brings me to my own question about all this: Why do the judges put up with these guys in the first place? At one point, down near the bottom, Rooke remarks that the courts “should watch carefully for genuine arguments masked inside OPCA litigation.” I interpreted this to mean that there might be an actual legal question or an argument that merits consideration somewhere buried in the pseudolegalese and nonsense.

If I were a judge, the first time one of these assholes so much as hinted that he was about of run one of these strategies, he would immediately forfeit. Stop right there, you’re done, game over; The bailiff can kick his ass out of the courtroom and he’ll get the bill for punitive costs in the mail. Is there a legal rule or principle that says judges have to tolerate this crap? Or that they cannot automatically punish or rule against someone for attempting one of these strategies?