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United States v. McLaughlin

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

December 30, 2019

United States of America Appellee,
v.
Raymond McLaughlin, aka Shakir Ra-Ade Bey, aka Shakir Ade Bey, Defendant-Appellant.

          Submitted: December 9, 2019

          On Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut

         Following a jury trial in the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut (Michael P. Shea, Judge), Defendant-Appellant Raymond McLaughlin was convicted of obstruction of Government administration for making false statements to the Internal Revenue Service. He now challenges his conviction on the grounds that the District Court lacked personal jurisdiction over him. For the reasons set forth below, we AFFIRM the District Court's judgment.

          Henry K. Kopel (Marc H. Silverman, on the brief), for John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, New Haven, CT, for Appellee.

          Raymond McLaughlin, pro se, Brooklyn, NY.

          Before: Cabranes and Droney, Circuit Judges, and Reiss, District Judge. [*]

          PER CURIAM

         The case before us poses a simple question: when does a Federal court have personal jurisdiction over a defendant in a criminal proceeding? We hold that personal jurisdiction exists whenever an individual, charged with a crime over which the Federal court has subject matter jurisdiction, is brought before that court. Accordingly, we AFFIRM the District Court's judgment that it had personal jurisdiction over Defendant-Appellant Raymond McLaughlin ("McLaughlin").

         I: BACKGROUND

         Defendant-Appellant McLaughlin was convicted, following a jury trial, of making false statements to the Internal Revenue Service ("IRS") in 2014, when he submitted documents purporting to show a payment of more than $300, 000 to a Connecticut state court judge then presiding over a foreclosure action against him. The payment was a fiction, but the documents submitted by McLaughlin were designed to bait the IRS into penalizing and assessing additional tax obligations on the state judge on the grounds that the judge never reported such income. By submitting these false documents under penalty of perjury, McLaughlin was in clear violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1001.

         Before his conviction, McLaughlin filed multiple pro se motions to dismiss the indictment, asserting that the District Court lacked personal jurisdiction over him. The District Court denied the motions. McLaughlin now appeals his conviction, proceeding pro se, and arguing again that the judgment lacks validity because the District Court lacked personal jurisdiction. He frames the question on appeal as whether a public officer can possess personal jurisdiction over a criminal defendant, which we answer in the affirmative.

         Throughout, McLaughlin has made arguments that are consistent with a "Sovereign Citizen" ideology. Proponents of that ideology, like McLaughlin, believe that the Federal Government is illegitimate, and therefore that its laws are not binding. [1] As the District Court aptly noted, so-called "Sovereign Citizens" seek to "clog[] the wheels of justice" and "delay proceedings so justice won't ultimately be [d]one." App. 78. They do so by raising numerous- often frivolous-arguments, many alleging that the Courts or the Constitution lack any authority whatsoever.

         McLaughlin's argument here goes to the very heart of our authority to hear Federal criminal cases. It raises an issue that warrants a clear statement from this Court, to deter future litigants from making similar claims.

         II. ...


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