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We Are The Government

If you don't like the government, make one of your own

By Rick Sine

The top nameplate on the unassuming one-story office building reads "ARTICLE 1 SECTION 2 GOVERNMENT." Pinned to the door of the office suite is a piece of paper declaring that this is the Puget's Sound Agricultural Society, Limited. Underneath that paper are a few pages from the criminal code, showing that the Society is shielded from government prosecution through "sovereign immunity."

Far-right activists are fond of rummaging through the more obscure realms of history to lend support to their anti-governmental crusades. Thus it is for historical reasons that a few hundred people believe that a government superseding the elected one in Washington or Sacramento can be found at 1055 Sunnyvale-Saratoga Road in Sunnyvale.

The founders of the Society, which opened its doors in 1994, claim to have "revived" an old treaty with Great Britain that lay dormant for 60 years. The Puget's Sound Agricultural Society claims to have received license from the King of England in 1840 as the Western equivalent of the Hudson Bay Company giving its holders the right to do agricultural business west of the Rockies.

The Society has nearly three hundred members nationwide, says its organizers. It's a good deal, on paper anyway. For a one-time membership fee of $500, the group provides extensive personal and property insurance, no-interest loans, and an escrow service.

But that only begins to describe what Puget's Sound does. Like the State Citizen Service Center (see main story), Puget's Sound is a sort of Legal Aid for the ultra-right. It helps its Christian members fight foreclosures, traffic tickets, tax problems and other hassles with government. They're not lawyers, however; they're armed with the attitude that their Christianity, and their charter, makes them essentially immune from all laws that aren't divine "Only Christians have the authority to govern Christians," one volunteer says.

Organizer Greg Nichols contends that the Society has forestalled a dozen home foreclosures on its members. When another member, Scott Brozinick, went to court in San Mateo for not having a vehicle registration, Nichols and Brozinick's brother Roger countered by contending that the District Attorney was fraudulently in office because he hadn't filed his oath of office in time. (They did not succeed in their claim. Instead, Brozinick was convicted of contempt of court, and Nichols of obstructing a police officer in the course of fighting the case. "They filed volumes of irrelevant materials and imposed themselves on the clerks," says San Mateo County Assistant District Attorney John Oakes. "They'll find obscure portions of code and interpret it as the law of the land.")

Sherwood Rodrigues, a retired accountant who volunteers at the Society, says he's worked on many successful cases, though he is vague on specifics. A typical court filling in San Mateo Municipal Court begins by citing "Galatians 5 Herein and Throughout" and declares that it is addressing "The Alien Federal System Doing Business as an Alien Inferior Secular Forum."

Rodrigues says the Society's aims are peaceful. "We aren't fighting the government," says Rodrigues. "We are the government."

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From the Mar. 14-20, 1996 issue of Metro

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