Jared Fogle once pitched Subway sandwiches to the world. Since his imprisonment on child pornography charges, he has pitched multiple odd theories to the court in which he was convicted.
After receiving a 188 month sentence which he unsuccessfully appealed, Jared filed a ”Motion to Correct Clear Error Pursuant to Rule 52(b).” In this motion, Jared alleged that the court did not have jurisdiction over him because he is a sovereign citizen. Jared incorporated by reference a “Motion to Enter Amicus Curiae Brief” which, strangely enough, was filed by fellow prisoner Frank Edwin Pate. In Pate’s motion, he made the grand statement that “whether a judicial judgment is lawful depends on whether the sovereign has authority to render it.”
Theories of individual sovereignty and immunity to prosecution have never prevailed in federal court. In the Seventh Circuit, where Jared’s case is docketed, courts have referred to sovereign citizen arguments as “frivolous,” “shop worn” and as having “no conceivable validity in American law.” In fact, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals instructed lower courts that sovereign citizen theories should be rejected summarily, however they are presented. United States v. Benabe, 654 F.3d 753 (7th Cir. 2011).
That’s what Judge Tanya Pratt did with Jared’s Rule 52(b) motion. Calling the motion “frivolous,” Judge Pratt said, “Title 18 U.S.C. §3231 provides that the district courts of the United States shall have original jurisdiction exclusive of the courts of the states on all offenses against the United States. The district court clearly had subject matter jurisdiction over Fogle’s criminal proceedings.”
Jared’s next foul ball was a constitutional challenge to the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act. After he filed a post-conviction motion to withdraw his guilty plea, which Judge Pratt warned would be treated as a section 2255 motion if not withdrawn, Jared filed a document titled “Constitutional Challenge to §2255(f)(1-4).”
In this filing, Jared (presumably with the assistance of fellow incarcerated sovereign citizens) argued that the AEDPA-imposed one-year statute of limitations found in §2255(f) unconstitutionally suspends the writ of habeas corpus. This argument is also shop worn, and was rejected by Judge Pratt.
“The AEDPA one-year filing limitation does not, as Fogle argues, act to suspend a petitioner’s right to file a writ of habeas corpus,” wrote the Judge. “Rather, it imposes a congressionally-intended limitation in order to further the well-established goal of finality in criminal convictions.”
Judge Pratt did throw Jared a bone, though. She was kind enough to construe the “constitutional challenge” motion as a motion to withdraw what she had already recast as a section 2255 motion. As a result, Jared still has his initial section 2255 motion available. One shudders to think what might be argued next time.
There’s a lesson for federal prisoners here. It is a mistake to make frivolous filings in federal court. No one is a sovereign citizen, subject to no laws, just because they say so. Federal courts are not interested in such silly arguments.
Federal courts do, however, entertain realistic and supported arguments made pursuant to section 2255. There are many legitimate ways to challenge a conviction or sentence via habeas corpus. If you would like to discuss your options with an experienced habeas corpus litigator, contact us now. We won’t help anyone with frivolous and ridiculous arguments, but we will help you with your legitimate claims.