Hung Jury In Doreen Hendrickson Criminal Contempt Case

Jury Nullification: Doreen Hendrickson's jurors can say "not guilty"Doreen Hendrickson has received a measure of justice in her Michigan jury trial for criminal contempt. A single juror who recognized that the federal courts may not tell us what we must swear to, was able to spare Doreen, at least for now, time in a federal prison for standing by her principles.

A single principled citizen prevented the government from punishing Doreen for refusing to obey an order to perjure herself.  I for one, am grateful there are such people among us.

The family’s ordeal is by no means over. And if the federal government remains true to its relentless persecution of the Hendricksons, she will be subject to trial again on the same charges in just six months.

Nevertheless, despite official lies from the court concerning the jury’s authority to judge the law, and despite official lies concerning our obligation to obey even “unlawful” orders,  a single America was able to slow down, if not halt, a federal attack on a principled citizen.

The case will receive almost no coverage in the main stream media because the government has successfully portrayed it as a “tax case.” Tax cases receive very special treatment in the courts. Tax laws are constructed by the courts as they need to be to sustain them, and by no means according to traditional rules.

And in reality, Doreen’s case has nothing to do with taxes and everything to do with an attempt by the IRS to take full control of American’s  fundamental right to freedom of expression.

Doreen was ordered to sign a tax return under penalty of perjury that she believed contained false information. There is no precedent in our legal traditions to justify such an order. That a court could order a citizen to swear to facts the citizen believes are false is a notion utterly alien to common law traditions.

To convict a person of failing to follow such a completely unlawful order the prosecutors and courts necessarily must disguise, dissemble, and distort the realities of American legal traditions. They do so by refusing to discuss the law with the jury and refusing to allow jurors to see the law when they ask for it. Then the judge simply lies to the jurors, telling them they “must” follow the court’s orders concerning what the law is.

The notion that jurors must follow orders from the court is simply a lie.

Juries are fully empowered to stop government tyranny by refusing to convict no matter what the court tells them and no matter what the law may be.

It is not only [the juror’s] right, but his duty…to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgment, and conscience, though in direct opposition to the direction of the court.

John Adams, 1771

As this is a blog dealing with the more technical side of litigating in the U.S. Tax Court, in future posts I plan to address the technical aspects involved in the trickery and bias that federal courts have built into the jury selection and evidence presentation process.

Doreen’s victory is remarkable for how rare such victories are. And such victories are rare, in no small part, because the field is stacked against defendants in federal courts by willing cooperation between the bench and the prosecution. I will illustrate the details of these shameless manipulations in posts during the next few days.

In the meantime, I am relieved and delighted that the Hendricksons have received at least temporary justice.






Lysander Venible is the author of "On Your Own in Tax Court," a book about how to save your shirt in U.S. tax court. He has been engaged with the Service for over 10 years both administratively and in tax court.

If you have questions, topics or a situation you'd like to discuss, comment below or click the "About/Contact" tab above.

Lysander is not an attorney and it is not his intent to offer legal advice.

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