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‘Gobbledygook’ straw man argument fails to sway District Court judge

A Sunshine Coast man has failed to convince a judge to dismiss drug charges using a “gobbledygook” argument asserting he possesses two personas – including a ‘straw man’ who is not answerable to Queensland laws.

Maroochydore District Court Judge Glen Cash QC, in a decision published yesterday, refused Kym Anthony Sweet’s application to dismiss two indictable offences under Queensland’s Drugs Misuse Act 1986.

The court was told that on 9 December 2020 an indictment was presented in the District Court alleging that between February and August 2019 Sweet unlawfully produced more than 500 grams of cannabis and possessed hydroponic equipment used to produce the drug.

Judge Cash said Sweet had since applied to the court for the charges to be dismissed.

“The essence of (Sweet’s) argument is that he possesses two distinct personas,” he said. “One the ‘real live flesh and blood man’ and the other a ‘straw man’ or ‘dummy-corporation’. The former is designated in (Sweet’s application) as ‘Kym-Anthony’ and the latter as KYM ANTHONY SWEET.”

Sweet, who represented himself during proceedings, argued the real person ‘Kym-Anthony’ was not subject to laws of Queensland and the charges should be dismissed.

Judge Cash, in a four-page decision, said the so-called ‘straw man’ legal argument could best be described as complete nonsense and gobbledygook.

“Merely setting out the argument is sufficient to show it is nonsense,” he said. “It is apparent that (Sweet) is one of a group of people who for some years have attempted, universally without success, to avoid the operation of laws with which they do not wish to comply.

“The term ‘organised pseudo legal commercial argument’ litigants (OPCA) was coined by Rooke ACJ in (the 2012 case) Meades v Meades to describe adherents to these discredited theories. The ideas promoted by OPCA litigants emerged, of course, in the United States.

“They have since spread to most parts of the common law world, including Queensland. Recognising that the arguments presented by OPCA litigants are largely incoherent, if not incomprehensible, courts have been increasingly willing to dismiss their claims summarily.

“While I think the present application is devoid of merit, I do propose to mention at least some reasons why that is so, in the hope that it might dissuade similar pointless applications in the future.

“The ‘straw man’ argument has its origins in the premise that human beings do not inherently possess a legal personality. Instead, some separate legal identity is imposed upon them (through birth certificates and the like) by the government. This process creates a kind of contract, but one that can be repudiated by the human being, usually through a declaration or affidavit (in this case the applicant’s ‘Affidavit of the Truth’) and ‘surrendering’ the birth certificate.

“The purported effect of such repudiation is to render the human being immune to the laws of the relevant polity. The processes adopted by OPCA litigants to achieve this repudiation can be arcane. Some of the language used, and documents relied upon, resemble spells or incantations.”

Judge Cash said Sweet’s argument was very similar in that he submitted documents with what appeared to be fingerprints in red ink and an extract of a birth certificate accompanied by a commemorative coin.

“One document is headed ‘Evidence-Claim-of-live-life-certificate’. Its contents are even less comprehensible than its title,” he said. “Other documents contain references to overseas law, such as the Uniform Commercial Code of the United States. Some of (Sweet’s) documents have the appearance of form documents, and it seems to be common for overseas-based charlatans to exploit the gullible by selling these form documents as ‘solutions’ to a variety of legal problems. None of the documents are of any legal effect whatsoever.”

In explaining how the rule of law actually applies in Queensland, Judge Cash said: “In Australia, a human being is also a legal person. An adult human being with full capacity can sue and be sued. They are subject to the criminal laws of this state.

“These fundamental propositions cannot be doubted. It is true that a natural person can create a legal entity that has a distinct legal personality – such entities are commonly called companies – but this is an adjunct to, rather than a replacement for, the legal personality of the human being.

“One way of illustrating why this must be so is to consider the consequences of the ability to ‘renounce’ legal personhood. The law has at times recognised categories of person who did not possess a legal personality. These categories included, before 1833, slaves, who were regarded as chattel property, could be bought and sold, and who had no rights under the law.

“At times women and children were thought not to possess a legal personality. (William) Blackstone (asserted in the Commentaries of the Laws of England 1973, that he) regarded children as the property of their fathers, and women have been regarded as chattels without a distinct legal personality. The fates of people who were in these categories were rarely pleasant.

“If (Sweet) were somehow able to renounce his legal personality, he would become a human being without rights. He would be mere property. Such an outcome would be antithetical to our society and system of laws.”

Judge Cash found that because Sweet’s application had absolutely no merit “it must be dismissed”.

The decision means Sweet’s drug offences remain alive and are expected to be tried on a date to be fixed.

Read the decision.

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