Kent Hovind Half Billion Dollar Lawsuit Dies With A Whimper
The drama that commenced just over a year ago when Kent Hovind and Paul John Hansen, as trustee for Creation Science Evangelism, filed a lawsuit in the US District Court Northern District of Florida has come to an unsatisfying though predictable conclusion.
Judge T. Kent Wetherell, II approving the recommendation of Magistrate Michael J. Frank ruled that “All the claims in the second amended complaint are DISMISSED with prejudice, and the Clerk shall close the case file“. (emphasis in the original) The suit claimed damages of $536,041,100. The defendants were the United States of America, Margaret Catharine Rodgers, the Estate of John David Roy Atchison, Michelle Heldmyer, Scott Schneider and Alan Stuart Richey.
Kent Hovind is an Independent Baptist minister best known for his advocacy of Young Earth Creationism (YEC). YEC is the notion that there is scientific support for a hyper literal reading of Genesis. Sum up all those begats and you get a world that is about 6,000 years old. One of the implications of YEC is that people and dinosaurs must have coexisted. Hence his sobriquet Doctor Dino and the creation in Pensacola of Dinosaur Adventure Land (DAL). Paul Hansen was the trustee of Creation Science Evangelism (CSE) the “non-statutory trust” that owned DAL.
In 2006 Hovind and his then wife Jo were convicted of a variety of tax related crimes – failure to withhold on DAL employees, who were characterized as missionaries, structuring – systematically making withdrawals of less than $10,000 to avoid bank cash reporting – and interfering with the administration of the tax law. They were also found civilly liable for millions of dollars in income tax including fraud penalties. CSE was found to be an alter ego of Hovind and its real property was seized to cover the structuring penalties. Hovind spent nearly the next nine years in prison.
Margaret Casey Rodgers was the judge in Kent’s 2006 trial. Michelle Heldmyer and John David Roy Atchinson were government attorneys involved in the prosecution. Scott Schneider was an IRS CI agent who testified. Alan Stuart Richey was Hovind’s attorney.
After his release Kent went to work building a new ministry. There is a new Dinosaur Adventure Land in Lenox, Alabama. And Kent has a pretty strong YouTube presence with over 25 million cumulative views. You can learn there almost daily that:
The Bible is true and evolution is dumb. Dinosaurs always lived with man. They did not live millions of years ago. And evolution is the dumbest and most dangerous religion in the history of the world!
Thanks in part to his long term friend and consigliere, Ernie Land, the new DAL is structured to be conventionally tax compliant. The owner of DAL, Creation Science Evangelism Inc, applied for and was granted exempt status.
Hovind has also devoted a good bit of effort to overturning his conviction and being compensated for all the harm it caused him. This lawsuit was the most recent and arguably most spectacular attempt given the damages claimed.
The Hansen School Of Law
Paul Hansen’s theory that he based the case on is that the jurisdiction of the federal government is extremely narrow. As far as I can tell the idea is that since the Constitution gives the federal government exclusive jurisdiction over what would become the District of Columbia and land where there are forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards and other needful buildings, it has no jurisdiction anywhere else except by contract. Judge Rodgers et al never established that Hovind was subject to the authority of the federal government, so taking his stuff and locking him up was criminal. I have more on Hansen’s theories here.
Hansen claims that attorneys know that he is right, but are afraid to say so because they will get disbarred. He told me that when judges and prosecutors realize that he is on to them they will usually fold. I asked him for a comment on the dismissal and this was his response.
It is of no surprise. This is a billion(s) dollar issue.
The US does not want anyone to investigate the fact that the IRS, or the USA, can not produce any factual (written law) evidence that Kent Hovind had any legal duty, to collect any tax, for the USA, from any person with CSE Ministries, for any year, even today. The reason why is that the constitution bars them from such in multiple ways. We have asked the IRS and they refuse to respond, this could branch into a suit like this one all by itself possibly.
I am working on a reconsideration-motion now. Being that Kent had no legal duty, their entire case collapses as to every count/charge made in 2006. It is exculpatory in nature, a felony to conceal, individually. Possibly we will force the court to make a declarative statement on these individual facts. All nexuses with the US are contractual. (consensual, requiring full disclosure)
In a follow-up e-mail he wrote:
Peter – In America we have ways of forcing disclosure as to duty, it is impossible for an US administrator to evade apart from arrest if done properly, I’ll likely be utilizing such tools soon.
The Magistrate’s recommendation to grant summary judgement in favor of the defendants was based on four grounds. First Hansen did not have standing on many of the claims. Second and more significantly, all the claims were barred by the statute of limitations. Next there is the matter of sovereign immunity covering the United States and most of the individual defendants who were acting in their official capacity. And their were insufficient allegations that Hovind’s attorney was acting “under color of law”.
Finally there is the Supreme Court decision Heck V Humphrey. Under that holding in order to recover damages from an unlawful conviction, you have to show that it was, you know, unlawful. Hovind’s conviction was confirmed by on appeal by the 11th Circuit and an attempt to overturn it recently failed.
Judge Wetherll did not find any merit in Hansen’s response to the Magistrate’s recommendation. He was actually kind of harsh:
Indeed, the objections demonstrate the frivolous and delusional nature of this suit when, among other things, they assert that plaintiff Hovind and his ministry were beyond the jurisdiction of the United States and the the obligation to pay income taxes is tantamount to being conscripted into involuntary servitude as a “tax collector for the United States”.
As Robert Baty pointed out to me the second part of that is an unfair characterization of Hovind’s argument. He was convicted of failing to withhold from employees not for not paying his own income taxes. Not that he did pay his own income taxes, but that remained a civil matter. So the servitude argument is not quite so delusional.
Kent Hovind declined to comment referring me to Hansen.
I get a sense that Ernie Land would prefer that Kent focus on the ministry and stop engaging in litigation following Hansen’s advice. When I asked for his comment on the dismissal it was – “As I expected.”
Robert Baty runs the Facebook site Kent Hovind’s Worst Nightmare. He is one of the few Hovind critics that Kent will sometimes mention by name. Baty is a retired IRS Appeals officer and Hovind and others believe that he has been brought out or retirement to harass Hovind. He wrote me:
Many will point out that the key evaluation by the Court is its characterization that the pleadings were “frivolous & delusional”.
I was pleased to see that the Court did not waste time in providing a legal analysis to the many “frivolous & delusional” claims made by Hansen & Hovind; just 2 pages to dismiss.
The dismissal with prejudice is also telling. Maybe that will make any future legal antics a little easier and quicker to dispose of.
While the outcome was never in any serious doubt, Kent Hovind & Paul John Hansen did manage to fulfil sovereign citizen goals of wasting a year of the Court’s time and resources as well as the defendants.
Kent Hovind has pledged the rest of his life to such antics.
Will he continue? What will be his next step? I don’t know.