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Ed Corrigan

Ed Corrigan, of Casper, Wyo., stands on his property in September 2004. Corrigan, who has been in fights with the Natrona County District Court over long-running code violations, said the government has no right to interfere with property owners.

CASPER, Wyo. — Former Natrona County District Judge Scott Skavdahl: guilty.

County Attorney Bill Knight and Deputy County Attorney Heather Duncan-Malone: guilty.

County code enforcement officer Don Ranes: guilty.

Just hours after Skavdahl found Ed Corrigan guilty of contempt on Oct. 21, 2010, for refusing to clean his property east of Casper of multiple health and safety code violations, the “Wyoming Grand Jury” — composed of local sovereign citizens who believe the legal system is illegitimate — met to review the case.

John Lee Cotton served as foreman.

Eleven people attended, including Corrigan, who presented his case.

He alleged the judge and county officials:

Defied the Wyoming and U.S. constitutions.

Refused to address the legality of property codes that are inspired by communism and the United Nations.

Violated their of oaths of office through perjury.

Violated Article 1, Section 7 of the Wyoming Constitution prohibiting “absolute, arbitrary power over the lives, liberty and property of freemen.”

Deprived him of due process, among other matters.

According to the “Presentment from Wyoming Grand Jury” filed with the Natrona County clerk’s office, jurors unanimously decided to criminally charge Skavdahl, Knight, Duncan-Malone and Ranes and to order their immediate removal from office.

This grand jury also has filed presentments with similar charges against the Casper City Council and other city officials. All were found guilty of violating their oaths of office and other crimes.

Sovereigns believe the violation of the oath of office — including swearing to uphold the constitutions — constitutes treason.

And treason is punishable by death, as local sovereign teacher John Arthur Taylor Jr. has noted and has written into the new constitution of the Wyoming republic.

Natrona County Sheriff Mark Benton has taken note of that.

“It certainly concerns us when there are threats of violence,” he said.

As harsh as that may sound, common-law juries — a key part of the restoration of a constitutional America — will give people a better chance for justice than the system that exists now, Taylor, Cotton and others have said.

Learning curve

Cotton, 65, knows this treatment firsthand.

After being discharged from the Navy in the early 1970s, he returned to Wyoming, entered Casper College and was introduced to a group called the “Wyoming Patriots” that taught some of what he believes now, including opposition to the federal income tax.

“I wanted to know what the truth is,” he said. “When I was in my 20s, I found out what the income tax is paid to and for. (And) I made a decision I was not going to support it because it was wrong.”

Cotton declined to elaborate on the recipients or purpose of the income tax.

He was jailed for 40 days in the mid-’70s for not paying income taxes and appeared before U.S. District Judge Clarence Brimmer to explain his actions, but nothing further happened, he said.

Cotton has taken a low profile since then with low-paying jobs. He said he has not paid federal income tax since he was 27.

That decision to stand up for his beliefs and earn minimal income has cost him dearly in his personal life, Cotton said, noting, “I didn’t want to be in a position to where they had direct access to steal from me.”

On the ideological side, Cotton knew America had gone off its constitutional track, but he didn’t learn the real reason until about three years ago while listening to teacher John Arthur Taylor Jr., he said.

“It’s taken about 35 years to see what was the problem, “ he said. “We’ve been lied to in the school system. We’ve been living in like a Disneyland-type world where it isn’t a Disneyland-type world.”

“The so-called ‘government’ was not the government,” he said. “It’s a private corporation.”

Sovereigns believe the corporate United States began during and after the Civil War, which allowed the federal government to amass power and wealth at the expense of the citizens and states. It takes away rights by creating legal fictions, evidenced by the use of all capital letters in legal documents instead of lower-case letters that identify flesh-and-blood people.

The federal, state and local court systems further the corporation’s goals by supporting the corporation’s efforts to restrict individual freedoms and take away rights, such as the right to be judged by a defendant’s peers, Cotton said.

The only rights accused people gain occur when they sign a paper, in effect a contract, saying they understand their rights, he said, noting, “The poor souls who go in there have no idea what they’re doing.”

The legal profession operates hand in glove with the courts, working to deny jurors the truth in trials, he said.

“Bar members are taught how to lie and how to steal,” Cotton said. “Most do. Some see their profession as doing the wrong thing.

“The people in this country don’t have a say-so anymore. We have been basically denied certain very important rights to solve problems in society today.”

To fix that, Cotton said, the new national and state constitutions will restore common-law courts and grand juries and dissolve the current corporate system.

“The grand jury was developed in England, and it was a basic way of living,” he said.

Sovereigns trace grand jury history even further. In the Bible, when a problem arose in a community, a group of elders were presented the problem, considered the evidence, listened to witnesses and made a decision, Cotton said. “The society at that time would accept that decision and follow it.”

According to those in the sovereignty movement, the grand jury system in the restored American government will give people the opportunity to express their positions.

However, Skavdahl and the three county officials in Corrigan’s case were not invited to defend themselves, Cotton said.

The local grand jury in the cases of Casper and Natrona County officials actually is a county common-law jury, he said. “There’s a common-law grand jury for the county, but only one for the state. We were acting at the time as the common-law grand jury.”

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After the Wyoming republic is restored, the local common-law jury will send its “presentments” about local officials to the state grand jury, Cotton said. “This was basically like a complaint.”

He knows of no place where common-law juries are practiced and doesn’t have much hope for their recognition anytime soon, he said. “The chances of (the current legal system) listening to this is nil.”

Serious work

A common-law or grand jury doesn’t arise casually because a group of people meet at a backyard barbecue, talk about somebody and render a decision.

Those juries theoretically are limited to one to a county, but Cotton isn’t sure of that, he said.

“You and your friends could set one up for another county,” but that’s not to say you can’t here, he said. “I’m not totally certain how that works.”

Nor will the common-law and court system resort to vigilantism.

“It’s not like 20 people breaking into a sheriff’s office, dragging a guy out and stringing him up,” Cotton said.

Certain principles are followed, Cotton said. “We study to the best of our ability to come to the truth, and we take that (responsibility) seriously.”

Even though the state system claims it holds trials with “juries of peers,” those “peers” don’t have a necessary knowledge of the accused, he said.

“(Familiarity) weighs in on how persons are judged righteously,” he said. “That protects the defendant if persons know you.”

But it doesn’t mean a defendant will coast because people know him, Cotton said. Sovereigns don’t take the accusation and punishment of public officials lightly.

“It’s something I certainly don’t relish,” he said.

These public officials, like everyone else, have the opportunity to change their behavior, or “repent “ as Cotton puts it, and receive forgiveness from the grand juries and community.

“I can sympathize with their position to a certain extent,” he said.

But, if accused and convicted public officials and other defendants don’t change, especially with treasonous acts, the grand jury and common-law courts will need to take action.

“At this point we have no strong arm of the law to back us up, but that day will come,” he said.

County sheriffs would carry out executions. “They are what we call the strong arm of the law,” Cotton said.

But the common-law system can show mercy, too, he said.

“It’s not necessary to kill people for capital crimes,” Cotton said. “Killing people doesn’t hit the spot for me.”

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