coordinated pro se tax-haters clogging up courts

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An article in today’s Legal Times discusses a spate of coordinated, mostly-pro-se “tax revolt” cases — 108 of them — that have been filed in federal district courts across the country since last Fall.    Law.com, “Tax Revolt: Plaintiffs File Coordinated Cases Against IRS,” Oct. 13, 2006)  Reporter Emma Schwartz writes that “The effort hasn’t seen much success; so far, 40 have been dismissed because of the plaintiffs’ failure to exhaust their administrative remedies. But the cases managed to pique curiosity in judges’ chambers.”  It appears that Schwartz has unearthed the mystery man behind the suits, “Chicago-based anti-tax activist George Pragovich”. Although most of the litigants have refused to say who is behind their judicial tax revolt, the wife of plaintiff Paul Broward is quoted saying that Pragovich is “one of the major coordinators of what we’re doing. I just fill out the forms and send them in.” 

checkedBox I’m sure that some observers are going to point to these cases as another good reason to require lawyes for all litigants in federal court — using the legal fee as a deterrent to baseless or harassing suits, with lawyers as toll-taking gatekeepers.  I believe that dealing with such pro se suits is an appropriate “cost” of ensuring the fundamental right of Americans to represent themselves in court.  As stated in our prior post on frivolous pro se litigants, the proprer approach is for courts to use their powers to quickly dispatch cases that do not belong before them — either because they are frivolous or premature.   Our Government knows how to accommodate First Amendment-type rights into the operation of its agencies.   We can’t let those who abuse such rights become an excuse to limit appropriate behavior by the vast majority of Americans. 

1 Comment

  1. shlep: the Self-Help Law ExPress » Blog Archive » paper terrorism, prisoners, and pro se mischief

    December 16, 2006 @ 9:59 pm

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    […] A recent article in Future Trends in State Courts 2006, “The Anti-Government Movement Today“  (National Center for State Courts, by Charles A. Ericksen and Anne E. Skove), has a well-footnoted discussion of the malicious mischief being perpetrated in courts and other government bodies by the Anti-Government Movement.  The tactics amount to “paper terrorism“ — ”the use of fraudulent legal documents and filings, as well as the misuse of legitimate documents and filings, in order to intimidate, harass and coerce public officials, law enforcement officers and private citizens.” (from “Sovereign Citizen” Movement, at the Anti-Defamation League’s law enforcement website; and see our post “coordinated pro se tax-haters clogging up the courts, Oct. 13, 2006) […]