LarryBecraftLowell (Larry) Becraft, Jr., is a constitutional attorney based in Huntsville, Alabama.
He specializes in criminal defense cases, primarily involving the federal income tax.

You can listen to his online radio program most Saturdays at 3 PM Eastern, noon Pacific Time on The MicroEffect.

His web site can be found here.

Brief comments about the Common Law

Today, much of our current criminal law is derived from the common law, at least in relation to its broad features. Substantive and procedural criminal law under the common law was different from that practiced in continental Europe, where investigation and criminal law enforcement was conducted mostly in private (with use of the "rack"), having private trials and private punishments. Common law criminal procedure was different, with public trials and public imposition of punishment.

But, today's criminal procedures and punishments differ in many respects from that under the common law. Currently, a criminal defendant can appear in a modern American court and refuse to enter a plea to criminal charges, which results in the court entering a plea of not guilty. But at the common law, matters were different, the purpose being to force a plea. If a defendant refused to enter a plea under common law procedures, he was carried back to prison where he was forced onto the ground, and heavy metal objects were placed on his body in a process named "pressing". This was done in an effort to force a plea, but many unfortunate defendants were "pressed to death."

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Birth certificate argument

For a number of years, there have been floating around various arguments about birth certificates. About 5 years ago, I encountered this argument and watched for courts to address this baseless, numbskull argument. I attach one such case where a party raised this issue and the court addressed it.

The only value of birth certificates is to prove that we are citizens. They have no commercial value, such certificates are not sold as securities, and there certainly is no market where these financially valueless pieces of paper are sold.

I have concluded that those who promote this argument are either scammers or govt agents wishing to mislead people and get them into trouble.

Sources for the Common Law

What is the best source for learning about the common law? In Schick v. United States, 195 U.S. 65, 69 (1904), the Supreme Court noted that “Blackstone's Commentaries are accepted as the most satisfactory exposition of the common law of England.  At the time of the adoption of the federal Constitution, it had been published about twenty years, and it has been said that more copies of the work had been sold in this country than in England, so that undoubtedly the framers of the Constitution were familiar with it.” See this.

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FCC leadership refuses to let public see new internet regulation

There is a lot of attention being paid to the FCC rules that are currently being proposed regarding control of the Internet, and it is noted that such rules are not available to the public.  The Administrative Procedures Act requires all agency rules to be published in the Federal Register 30 days before they become effective.  There are lots of cases where agencies did not publish them 30 days in advance of their effective date and the courts held such rules not to be effective.

One such case is Natural Resources Defense Council v. Abraham, 355 F.3d 179, 206 (2nd Cir. 2004), which dealt with the effective date of certain regs, many being published, then altered, and the dates changed.  That court of appeals held, "Therefore, because the February 2 delay was promulgated without complying with the APA's notice-and-comment requirements, and because the final rule failed to meet any of the exceptions to those requirements, it was an invalid rule." This case may be read here.

Since these FCC rules have obviously not been published in the Federal Register, they cannot have any force and will be invalid.

That false argument about the "Act of 1871"

Hey Bob,

More than 13 years ago, Lisa Guiliani posted an article on the Net which asserted that some unspecified federal law enacted in 1871 created “USA, Inc.” or another corp with similar name. Sometime later, advocates of this contention noted that the law in question was the act of that year related to the form of govt Congress was creating for Washington, DC. Because I knew this contention to be completely incorrect, I posted the below on my website. Simply put, that particular act was in effect for only a few years before Congress repealed it, and a reading of that act shows that it did not created any corporation named “USA, Inc.” or anything similar.

This argument has mislead too many people for more than a decade. It causes this movement to appear to be composed of crackpots, idiots and flakes, and I have some serious reservations and concerns regarding those who continue to advocate this baseless argument. I would appreciate it if you could help in stopping the spread of this fake argument.


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the Crown and Vatican

There are too many fake and false arguments that float around this movement, and several relate to our alleged association with England, and another contends that “the Vatican owns everything.” History reveals that these arguments are utterly false.

Some contend that an agreement between King John of England and the Pope in 1213 conveyed to the Pope legal control of England and complete ownership of the whole country. While there was such an agreement, it did not last very long. Blackstone recounts that the Vatican’s desire to own lots of English land and control large parts of that country resulted in the revolt of the monarchy and nobles. As a result of the actions of the Vatican, an offense named praemunire was enacted to combat the perceived evils of the Vatican, and Blackstone discusses this crime at length.

In Blackstone’s Commentaries, there is a chapter titled Offenses against God and Religion, posted here.

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Liability for FRNs

The United States is "liable" for the Treasury notes and bonds it issues.  It is not "liable" for FRNs and is not required to pay them.

Art. 1, § 9, cl. 7 of the U.S. Constitution reads as follows:
"No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law." This means that all debt instruments on which Uncle Sam is "liable" must be authorized by some law enacted by Congress.  This is the constitutional provision requiring what is commonly called the debt ceiling, and if the debt ceiling is reached, no more debt instruments may be issued.

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Disabilities of witnesses under the Common Law

There are parties in this movement who make assertions about the common law and its supposed merits and superiority to current law. It appears that common law proponents believe that the common law is either natural law or Biblical law, when the reality is far different and that it is neither “natural” nor entirely Biblical, but really the customs of the English people developed over hundreds of years during the late Dark Ages and Renaissance for a largely feudal, agricultural society. While Christianity is a part of it, common law is for the most part unrelated to Christianity. After all, the monarchy was part and parcel of the common law. 

Personally, I think parties to litigation should be able to testify in their own cases. However, at common law this was prohibited.  See Olive v. Adams, 50 Ala. 373 (1874). Further, Georgia had this rule as late as the early 1960s for criminal cases. If you want to read a case that discusses this common law rule of evidence that parties could not testify in their own criminal cases, please read Ferguson v. Georgia, 365 U.S. 570, 573-582, 81 S.Ct. 756 (1961), which is posted here.

Which is better: prohibiting parties from testifying in their own cases or allowing them to do so?

Changing a republic into a monarchy

After the American Revolution, Philip Freneau, poet of the revolution, wrote a very interesting article that virtually predicted the future, and he titled that article published in the National Gazette as follows: "Rules for changing a limited republican government into an unlimited hereditary one." I posted the HTML of his article here.

You are invited to read it. Is his prediction accurate?