CHICAGO (CN) – An Illinois man’s bizarre defense in a tax evasion case cannot save him from jail time, the 7th Circuit ruled.
In 2003 and 2003, Brian Small gave his employer documents claiming to be exempt from income taxes. Small, who “believes he is a nontaxable ‘sovereign citizen’ failed to pay about $55,000 in income taxes.
He was charged with four counts each of tax evasion and failing to file tax returns from 2003 to 2006.
At trial, Small insisted on represented himself but stayed in the spectators’ section of the courtroom “out of a belief that advancing to the defense table would give the district court ‘jurisdiction’ over him.”
In addition, “Small described himself as the ‘executor of an estate’ that he had established in his own name; this estate, he said, was the party actually charged and could not be prosecuted without his written authority,” the 7th Circuit summarized in an unsigned opinion.
Small left the courtroom before closing arguments.
A jury found Small guilty on all counts and U.S. District Judge Frederick Kapala sentenced him to almost two years imprisonment.
Small’s “unconventional” legal tactics continued on appeal.
He claimed that the federal criminal jurisdiction statute, 18 U.S.C. §3231, was passed without a quorum of the House of Representatives and is thus invalid. But, the 7th Circuit determined, this argument is foreclosed by the “enrolled-bill rule” which allows quorum requirements to be waived if a bill is certified by the presiding officer of each chamber of congress.
The court also rejected Small’s claim that the prosecution was required to obtain the approval of the Attorney General before prosecuting tax cases, finding no evidence that the government failed to secure this approval and noting that the U.S. Attorneys’ Manual does not confer substantive rights.
Small also cannot argue that his due process right to be present at trial was violated when he chose to leave the courtroom during closing arguments, the court concluded.
Small’s other arguments were dismissed as frivolous.