One of the most notable figures in America proselytizing and exercising “sovereign” ideology, Bruce Doucette, was sentenced to 38 years in Colorado state prison on Tuesday, May 22.
Doucette, who owned a computer-repair shop in Littleton, had declared himself a judge despite not being recognized by any U.S. judicial system, and was one of the leading actors in an extra-legal organization calling itself the “people's grand jury of Colorado.” On March 9, a jury in Denver had found Doucette guilty of 34 felony charges stemming from actions that Doucette described as an attempt to root out corruption in American government at its various levels: federal, state and local.
The type of sovereign ideology at the heart of his actions has parallels to the infamous Bundy family standoffs with federal agents in Nevada and Oregon. As we explained in a May 23, 2017, cover story delving into sovereign activity in Colorado's Costilla County, where Doucette himself traveled to swear in “constitutional marshals” and to dole out legal advice to off-the-grid residents fighting the county over land-use requirements, the movement appears to be spreading across the country. In our story, we noted: “Sometimes calling themselves ‘constitutionalists’ or ‘freemen,’ individuals who subscribe to a sovereign ideology often don’t believe they are required to follow any regulations drafted and passed by politicians — things like tax codes or driver’s license rules — because the U.S. government has been corrupted, and sovereigns are not under contract to adhere to all of its laws.”
According to a prosecutor with the Colorado Attorney General's Office, Doucette and at least nine other participants took things a step further in Colorado and engaged in activities the FBI considers to be “paper terrorism.” This included harassing and intimidating real judges, law enforcement personnel and public officials with illegitimate arrest warrants, subpoenas and liens.
After being charged with 34 felonies, Doucette underwent a bizarre two-week trial earlier this year during which he refused outside counsel and cross-examined the state's witnesses with esoteric interpretations of the Constitution — most of which did not pass muster with the judge or the jury.
At Tuesday's sentencing hearing, the bizarre courtroom proceedings continued, with Doucette wearing what looked like a pair of shooting glasses atop his green jumpsuit and only answering, “I do not consent,” to Judge Michael Spear's questions.
Doucette did, however, take the opportunity to present a brief statement to the courtroom before Spear handed down his sentencing decision.
“Everything I did was to remove the corruption from this government and these courts,” Doucette declared, though his voice was shaky. “May Yahweh have mercy on your souls when he judges you.”
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By contrast, attorney Robert Shapiro, the state's leading prosecutor, spoke at length, urging the judge to penalize Doucette with 45 years in prison with such rhetoric as "He is a danger — probably a long-term danger — to the citizens of Colorado.”
In no uncertain terms, Shapiro also described Doucette's “enterprise” as placing economic and emotional stress on its targeted public officials, leading individuals like Judge Karolyn Moore in Boulder to fear for her safety. In a victim statement provided by Moore that Shapiro read aloud to the courtroom, the Boulder County judge charged, “[Doucette] is a domestic terrorist.”
At this characterization, the convicted defendant jerked his head up briefly, then slumped and swayed side to side in a swivel chair.
As soon as the hearing was over, Doucette was escorted out through a side door by one of four sheriff's deputies assigned to provide security in the courtroom. He will soon be handed over to the Colorado Department of Corrections, where the 57-year-old is likely to spend most, if not the rest, of his life.