United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division
REIDINGER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
MATTER comes before the Court sua sponte.
2013, a grand jury sitting in the District of Nebraska
returned a Bill of Indictment charging the Plaintiff Chet Lee
West with three counts of tax evasion, in violation of 26
U.S.C. § 7201. [United States v. West, No.
8:13-cr-00273-LSC-SMB (D. Neb.) (“Neb. CR”), Doc.
1: Indictment]. The Plaintiff was convicted by a jury on all
three counts. [Neb. CR Doc. 154]. The United States District
Court for the District of Nebraska sentenced him to 51
months' imprisonment and three years of supervised
release and ordered him to pay restitution in the amount of
$439, 515.81 plus a $300.00 special assessment. [Neb. CR Doc.
Plaintiff appealed, challenging several evidentiary rulings
made at trial as well as two special conditions of supervised
release that were imposed. [Neb. CR Doc. 210]. In July 2016,
the Eighth Circuit vacated the challenged special conditions
of supervise release but affirmed the Plaintiff's
conviction and sentence in all other respects. United
States v. West, 829 F.3d 1013 (8th Cir. 2016). On
remand, the Nebraska District Court entered an Amended
Judgment removing the challenged special conditions but
otherwise leaving the Plaintiff's sentence intact. [Neb.
CR Doc. 241]. The Plaintiff again appealed, but later
voluntarily dismissed that appeal. [See Neb. CR
Docs. 249, 253].
Plaintiff was released from the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) on
November 2, 2018. Following his release, the Plaintiff filed
a motion with the Nebraska District Court, seeking to abate
his payments of restitution, to recuse the District Judge
from further proceedings, and to allow him to associate with
other felons while on supervised release. [Neb. CR Doc. 259].
The Nebraska District Court denied the Plaintiff's motion
in all respects on February 21, 2019. [Neb. CR Doc. 261].
April 3, 2019, the Plaintiff filed the present
“petition for redress of grievance” in this
Court. Although he provides a Whittier, North
Carolina address, the Plaintiff claims in his filing to be a
“a live Man, Florida State Citizen.” [Doc. 1 at
1]. He brings this action against several “purported
agents” of the United States Treasury Department, the
United States Attorney General, and the BOP, as well as the
director of a Virginia halfway house where the Plaintiff
resided during his term of imprisonment. Specifically, the
Plaintiff alleges that the Defendants conspired to deprive
the Plaintiff of his constitutional rights in that the
Defendants were “partially successful at
stealing from Plaintiff over one half million
‘dollars' . . . and 15 years of his Life, Liberty,
and Production, recently assessed at fifty million
‘dollars.'” [Id. at 5].
Plaintiff then spends over 100 pages explaining a series of
convoluted legal theories to support his contention that he
is not subject to federal income tax laws and that the
Nebraska District Court lacked jurisdiction over his criminal
prosecution. In addition to challenging the validity of his
criminal conviction, he also challenges various aspects of
his treatment while in BOP facilities in New Jersey and
Pennsylvania as well as in a halfway house in Virginia.
Plaintiff asks this Court to: (1) issue a stay of the
Nebraska District Court Judgment; (2) issue writs of mandamus
to various federal authorities and compel them to
“acknowledge the dissolution of the CHET LEE WEST/CHET
L. WEST juristic person”; (3) order a “full
accounting” of all accounts held by the federal
government in the name of CHET LEE WEST/CHET L. WEST; (4)
empanel a jury under “the civilian flag” of the
United States; (5) order the Defendants and the United States
to pay damages to the Plaintiff; (6) indict the Assistant
United States Attorney who prosecuted the Plaintiff; and (7)
report the Nebraska District Court Judge to the appropriate
review board for “malfeasance” in his criminal
case. [See Doc. 1 at 218-19].
STANDARD OF REVIEW
the Plaintiff has paid the $400 fee associated with the
filing of this action, the statutory screening procedure
authorized under the in forma pauperis
statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), is not applicable.
Nevertheless, the Court has inherent authority to dismiss a
frivolous complaint sua sponte. See Ross v. Baron,
493 Fed.Appx. 405, 406 (4th Cir. 2012) (noting that
“frivolous complaints are subject to dismissal pursuant
to the inherent authority of the court, even when the filing
fee has been paid”) (citing Mallard v. United
States Dist. Ct. for S.D. of Iowa, 490 U.S. 296, 307-08
complaint is deemed frivolous “where it lacks an
arguable basis either in law or in fact.” Neitzke
v. Williams, 490 U.S. 319, 325 (1989); Adams v.
Rice, 40 F.3d 72, 75 (4th Cir. 1994) (“Legally
frivolous claims are based on an ‘indisputedly
meritless legal theory' and including ‘claims of
infringement of a legal interest which clearly does not
Plaintiff's filing appears to rely on legal theories
similar to those espoused by individuals who are commonly
called “sovereign citizens.” The sovereign
citizen movement is premised on a theory that federal, state,
and local governments are illegitimate and thus, laws and
regulations enacted by those bodies are unenforceable.
See Shipman v. Bank of Am., No. 3:16-CV-772-RJC-DSC,
2017 WL 872651, at *2 (W.D. N.C. Mar. 3, 2017), report
and recommendation adopted in part sub nom. Shipman v. Funds
Mgmt. Branch, No. 3:16-CV-772-RJC-DSC, 2018 WL 3872320
(W.D. N.C. Aug. 15, 2018). Courts across the United States
have rejected the legal claims and defenses asserted by
sovereign citizens, finding such claims and defenses to be