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Freeman in trouble for claims

"A man accused of threatening three Superior Court judges was arraigned Nov. 24 and released without posting any bail.David Carroll Stephenson, 44, allegedly made a $500,000 claim for damages against Kitsap County Superior Court Judges Leonard Kruse and Leonard Costello, Clallam County Superior Court Judge Ken Williams and several other public officials.At his arraignment in Kitsap County Superior Court in Port Orchard, he was charged with three counts of intimidating a judge. That felony’s maximum penalty is 10 years in jail and a $20,000 fine.According to a document written by deputy Kitsap County prosecutor Pamela Loginsky, Stephenson threatened to file $8 million liens against the judges in 1995 if they refused to overturn Stephenson’s 1993 theft conviction.He was convicted of intimidating a public servant in 1995 and appealed that conviction. His appeals were denied.Now, he has allegedly made a $500,000 damage claim against five county officials and three judges. In arguing for a $200,000 bail, deputy prosecutor Andy Anderson said Stephenson was repeating his past threatening actions.Stephenson responded, “I am no flight risk. I will stand and answer these charges. I always do.”He pointed to his job as a paralegal, his residence on a 54-foot sailboat moored in Tacoma, and his wife, Linda Lee Stephenson, as reasons he would not run.Superior Court Judge Terry McCluskey was convinced. Although Stephenson had two prior convictions from 1995, he noted that Stephenson has used no weapon or physical violence in the alleged crimes. Deputy prosecutor Jeffrey Jahns has said Stephenson used “paper terrorism”--filing or threatening to file liens--to try to manipulate the justice system. A lien is a debt against property, and according to Jahns, Stephenson’s filings had no legal foothold. Nevertheless, filing a lien does not require a legal review, and fighting an illegally-established lien takes a lot of time and energy. “This goes to the core of our system,” Jahns said of the liens against judges, “which is why we go after these so aggressively.” On Nov. 8, Pierce County Superior Court Judge Terry Sebring ordered a $200,000 arrest warrant for Stephenson. The wanted man was picked up at his office in Tacoma Nov. 23 by Kitsap County investigators, and he will be prosecuted in this county because the threats were received by the public officials here.In addition to the judges, Stephenson also claimed $500,000 in damages by County Commissioners Charlotte Garrido, Tim Botkin and Chris Endresen, Kitsap County Prosecuting Attorney Russ Hauge and Loginsky.According to Stephenson, the arrest was not legitimate--he believes he was kidnapped. In papers filed by his wife and a friend, Stephenson “requests emergency protection from continued attacks by...Kitsap County.” The papers were filed at Fort Lewis in Tacoma, requesting military action to protect him.No military personnel responded to Stephenson’s plea. In court on Wednesday, Stephenson objected not only to being “kidnapped” and held for a “ransom” (warrant money), but also to the court’s jurisdiction.He demanded McCluskey tell him the court’s jurisdiction, but McCluskey didn’t start a debate. The judge said simply, “Well, you got me, sir.”“I’m just exercising my right to demand the nature and cause of this proceeding,” Stephenson insisted. He refused to enter a plea, so the court entered a not-guilty plea for him. When he refused to choose a lawyer or decide whether to act as his own lawyer, a public defender was appointed simply to “advise” him.Jahns said Stephenson was, in 1993, the first person in Kitsap County to be prosecuted as a known “Freeman,” a member of one of several groups with either fundamentalist Christian, racist or Constitutionalist views. But Linda Stephenson said neither she nor her husband are Freemen, and they don’t like the label. She said her husband’s lien filings weren’t a real threat to the judges--just a perceived threat--and therefore no harm was done.Stephenson’s friend, Kenneth Wayne Leaming, a former Thurston County sheriff deputy, helped file the kidnapping papers. He said calling Stephenson a Freeman was attaching a label to him that is, “for the most part, negative.”“Juries will have the preconceived notion that Freemen are bad,” Leaming said. “There will be a subliminal determination that a guy (a Freemen defendant) is bad, and they (jurors) won’t make an impartial decision.”Linda Stephenson said her husband has trouble with the Kitsap County judicial system because judges and attorneys are surprised by her husband’s knowledge of the law.She said Stephenson will continue to work against “corruption” for as long as he feels he can make a difference. Then, she said, the couple will pursue a lifelong dream of sailing around the world."

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