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Trials and tribulations

A local man takes on the judicial system in his fight against two arrests

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This is how Jeff Lind sees it: He’s innocent, and he can prove his innocence—has proved his innocence, in fact—so there doesn’t have to be a trial. Actually, he questions whether the courts have any jurisdiction over him at all.

Lind, an Orcutt resident who works in San Luis Obispo as general manager of an advertising agency, was pulled into his current legal situation while attending a hearing for a family member in Santa Maria, who was there for an alleged DUI.

While waiting in the courthouse hallway in early December 2010, Lind began speaking with his relative’s arresting officer, Robert Ortega, who was sitting nearby. Lind believed Ortega was out of line in his handling of the alleged DUI.

A Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s deputy reported seeing the interaction via a surveillance camera. The meeting was obviously tense, with Lind introducing himself as the suspect’s relation. Ortega later claimed that Lind threatened him by saying “… you got something coming to you, too, pal!” Lind denied saying that. He denied making anything like a threat at all.

A crime report reveals that, after the meeting, Ortega claimed he was fearful for his life. Lind maintains that his comments and actions were nowhere near what Ortega alleges.

Lind was arrested shortly after the interaction.

“I was asking myself, ‘Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty?’” Lind later told New Times. “In jail … they strip you of all dignity. They strip you of all dignity.”

Lind now faces charges of threatening a witness.

After his release, Lind said, his lawyer obtained the surveillance video of the hallway, revealing the alleged altercation. The video was posted to YouTube. There’s no sound, but it shows the two men talking. Lind paces, but it’s difficult to see where a fear-inducing threat occurs. It all looks pretty low-key.

Lind was set to go before Judge Kay Kuns, which he felt was unnecessary in light of the video that counters Ortega’s claims of Lind getting in his face and pointing his finger threateningly.

“I went and I quoted law after law after law to Kuns that, to try a case, you have to have probable cause,” Lind said.

He was frustrated because, he said, he spent $3,000 on an attorney he wasn’t happy with, who didn’t get the case dismissed, and he was looking at another attorney and an expensive trial.

“What’s the point?” he said. “When I’ve given you proof that I’m innocent, you want to just drain me of more of my financial resources.”

Lind’s next move was to send Kuns and other officials a “National Standards Damage Claim Packet” alleging more than $77 million in damages. The form came from the National Standards Enforcement Agency, a group that bills itself on its website as a “Green Justice Environmental Improvement Program.” The site is registered to Tom Murphy of Los Osos, who said the group is a nonprofit, non-incorporated entityan in capita sovereign body “of and for the people.”

The damage claim form is intended to “assist the people who have been injured by their purported public servants.”

Lind also included a notice of intent of preservation of interest, meaning he didn’t want Kuns to transfer the deed to her house (or something similar) to remove it from any potential forthcoming award judgments. He called it a countermove, filed as leverage.

Though Lind insists the claims document is legit and was notarized, the court system didn’t see it that way, nor did anyone take it lightly.

“When I served this on Kay Kuns, that’s when they got real angry,” Lind said. “That’s when they hit me with another charge.”

Lind was arrested again, and now faces charges of attempting to procure a false instrument for record, conspiracy to commit a crime, and attempted filing of a false document related to a single-family residence. Murphy is also named in that case.

Among the boxes Lind checked on the claim packet are allegations that the judge traffics in slaves and plunders vessels—in other words, piracy. Lind explained that he’s researched various problems with the judicial system with help from others who are exploring constitutional rights and oaths of office, and how the government’s operation today is more like a corporation that violates those rights.

“It’s real deep. It’s, basically, [judges] operate under maritime law,” Lind said with a small laugh. “It’s even over my head. She knows what it means. But nobody else will understand what it means.”

In the eyes of the courts, because Kuns—whether she knew what Lind’s packet meant or not—was now a “victim,” Lind’s trials were assigned to Judge Ed Bullard.

At a hearing to set a trial date, Lind again tried to short circuit the trial process by using the video to prove his innocence. His frustration—as well as the judge’s and Deputy District Attorney Jerry Lulejian’s—are evident, even in the blocky, all-caps lines of the transcript of those proceedings.

THE DEFENDANT: MY POSITION IS I AM INNOCENT. I HAVE EVIDENCE THAT I HAVE PROVEN THE COURT, I HAVE GIVEN THE COURT, I HAVE MORE EVIDENCE HERE TO 100 PERCENT PROVE MY EVIDENCE [sic]. I WOULD LIKE TO ADDRESS THE COURT IF NOW IS THE TIME.

THE COURT: THE WRIT OF HABEAS IS DENIED … .

After some discussion of a time waiver, Lind continued.

THE DEFENDANT: AND I WOULD LIKE TO ENTER SOME EVIDENCE AND BE HEARD.

MR. LULEJIAN: I WILL OBJECT TO ENTERING ANY EVIDENCE, YOUR HONOR, THIS IS NOT A TRIAL.

THE DEFENDANT: SO I DO NOT HAVE A RIGHT TO ENTER EVIDENCE INTO MY CASE TO PROVE MY INNOCENCE?

THE COURT: SIR, I AM IN THE PROCESS OF SETTING YOUR TRIAL DATES, HOLD ON JUST A MOMENT.

Lulejian and Bullard then discussed bail, after which the judge asked Lind to weigh in.

THE COURT: YOUR POSITION SIR?

THE DEFENDANT: MAY I ADDRESS THE COURT?

THE COURT: YES, THAT IS WHAT I AM ASKING.

THE DEFENDANT: YOUR HONOR, FOR THE RECORD MY ACCUSER IN THIS MATTER, OFFICER ORTEGA LIED.

Lind goes on for quite some time, talking about evidence to support his claims, saying the court has no jurisdiction over him, and noting that the court has in its possession a video that proves his innocence.

He concludes: IT IS MY WISH THIS COURT IMMEDIATELY DISCHARGE, QUASH, DISMISS THIS BOGUS ACTION CONJURED UP AGAINST ME OR BE CONSTRUED AS ACTING IN CONCERT WITH MY KIDNAPPERS.

THE COURT: THANK YOU, BAIL SET IN THE SUM OF $25,000, DATE SET FOR TRIAL ARE CONFIRMED, CASE IS CONTINUED TO JULY 7TH FOR READINESS AND SETTLEMENT. THANK YOU SIR.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Brian Cota with the Santa Barbara County District Attorney’s Office later explained to a reporter that Bullard ultimately recused himself from the case because he works with Judge Kay.

“Most judges in Santa Maria would have a conflict in that situation,” Cota explained.

Lind’s trials, originally set for July 21, have been moved to Santa Barbara for Aug. 4 under Judge Dan Dona. Lind has filed a motion for continuance, saying Santa Barbara County must prove it has jurisdiction, since, as Lind claims, “there is no injured party, no damaged property … .” In the absence of a crime, he said, and with his only accuser as the D.A.’s office, “there is no probable cause.”

Lind at one point e-mailed New Times what he believed to be a fitting quote, attributed to Thomas Jefferson, to accompany his story: “When people fear government you have tyranny; when government fears the people you have liberty.”

Unaware of that e-mail, the D.A.’s Cota commented to a New Times reporter about people who make such arguments as Lind has made in his defense: “I don’t even think they believe the federal government [has jurisdiction]. They’ll quote some obscure passage from the Louisiana Purchase or something … . I wish I had time in my life to come up with these crazy things. They’re spending a lot of energy with these Thomas Jefferson quotes.”

Still, Lind sees this as a matter of the Constitution—and those who would trample on his rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

“Those are my rights that nobody, not a judge, not a cop, not a neighbor … nobody can take those away, and if they violate those, they are violating my unalienable, God-given rights,” he said. 

Sun Staff Writer Jeremy Thomas contributed to this story. Send comments to Executive Editor Ryan Miller at rmiller@newtimesslo.com.

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