Ronn Tice considers himself to be a sovereign citizen — part of a loosely organized group whose members don't think the law applies to them.
The authorities disagree — which explains why Tice is being prosecuted for claiming ownership of a house via a series of totally false and utterly incomprehensible arguments; facing down cops who tried to expel him and his elderly father, Paul Tice, who allegedly pulled a knife on them; and responding to a traffic stop by letting everyone know he was strapped.
If you feel as if you've just ventured into Schmuck of the Week territory, you're right.
The collective intelligence of Wikpedia defines the sovereign citizen movement
as "a loose grouping of American and Canadian litigants, commentators, tax protesters and financial-scheme promoters. Self-described sovereign citizens take the position that they are answerable only to their particular interpretation of the common law and are not subject to any statutes or proceedings at the federal, state or municipal levels; that they do not recognize United States currency; and/or that they are 'free of any legal constraints.'"
Law enforcers don't brush off sovereign citizens as benign loonies. Indeed, a 2014 survey
by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (see it here) ranks sovereign citizens as the number one outfit concerning authorities, causing more worries than "Islamic extremists/jihadists," "Military/patriot," "racist skinheads," "neo-Nazis," "extreme animal rightists," "extreme environmentalists" and the Klu Klux Klan.
"Although most organizations group Sovereign Citizens with other right wing groups," the report notes, "they are quite unique. Sovereigns do not specifically share the 'supremacist' views of the Klan, etc. Their focus is not on individuals (e.g., minorities, Jews, etc.); rather their focus is on government dysfunction and abuse of authority. Their anti-government ideology is arguably more akin to left wing anarchists than right wing Klansmen."
No wonder such a broad mix of causes is represented on Ronn's Facebook page. Here's one pertaining to gun rights.
He's also a big fan of Ben Carson.
Just because he's on Facebook doesn't mean he trusts the site, though.
One post reads, "You know you have 'their' attention when you're going to post something to really shake the walls and FB starts acting REALLY weird and all of a sudden fifty new posts appear (to bury what you were writing) out of nowhere and all that writing you just did... magically... disappears."
Authorities in Grand Junction have been aware of Ronn for a while now. Note a 2011 police blotter entry
from the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel
. It reads in part, "Tice’s neighbor told police he heard his roommate’s dog barking from a kennel in the backyard and began talking toward the dog to tell it to be quiet when he heard something strike the kennel. The neighbor said he saw Tice leaning over the fence with a slingshot, according to the summons. Tice told police the dog’s barking woke him up."
He and his family got a similarly unpleasant greeting on October 22 in regard to a trespassing complaint at the 612 26½ Road residence where they were living at the time.
A police document accessed
by the Sentinel
reveals that the home was owned by the federal agency Fannie Mae and had recently gone through foreclosure — but a couple of weeks earlier, a realtor noticed that all the locks had been changed.
When the cops showed up on the 22nd, Ronn refused to answer basic questions, "repeatedly claiming he did not want to enter into ‘verbal contracts’ or ‘verbal misunderstandings’ with the officers,” the affidavit states.
Next, he insisted that he'd purchased the house, although the documents he presented as proof are described as "abnormal" and "not credible" — and his assertions weren't helped by the fact that he had an outstanding warrant in his name based on an earlier traffic infraction.
The cops subsequently tried to fit Ronn with a pair of cuffs, but the situation went sideways before they could do so. Leviathan Tice, Ronn's son, is said to have tried to pull his dad away from the officers, after which Paul showed up with a knife and what's described as an "'angry' look on his face."
We're guessing it probably looks a lot like the expression he wore in his booking photo:
Rather than escalating the confrontation, the cops retreated in order to figure out if Ronn had actually purchased the house.
Nope — but he did his best to fake it. An e-mail he sent to the police included this example of nonsense cited by the Sentinel
: “I have been making diligent efforts to ascertain the nature and signing judge of the alleged warrant which your two Officers...indicated was outstanding against Ronn Tice or any derivative thereof, which was the stated cause of the two Officers’ trespass and attempted abduction of Ronn Tice from his domicile at 612 26½ Road,”
The authorities weren't convinced. A police affidavit concludes that the documents "appear nothing more than a bizarre attempt by Ronn and Leviathan to make a superficial legal status out of the counterfeit and unlawful inhabitation of said property."
Hence, another warrant was issued for Ronn — and Leviathan and Paul were tagged, too.
The warrant for Leviathan called for him to be taken into custody on suspicion of first-degree burglary, resisting arrest and obstructing a peace officer.
The one for Paul includes all three of those charges, plus menacing.
By November 4, the trio had all been busted, with Ronn's experiences being the most memorable.
That evening, police officers attempted to pull him over, but he "continued driving for a considerable distance before yielding to a patrol vehicle with activated, overhead flashing lights," the Sentinel
quotes a prosecutor as saying — and when he finally stopped, he " placed a handgun on the dashboard in an act of intimidation aimed at the arresting officers."
Fortunately for all concerned, Ronn didn't choose that moment to fight the law.
And yes, the law won.
Look below to see a larger version of Ronn's booking photo, followed by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism study.
National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism Report.pdf