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United States v. Herring

United States District Court, Third Circuit

October 11, 2013

MARIO T. HERRING, aka Hondo Amun El.


MAURICE B. COHILL, Jr., Senior District Judge.

Defendant Hondo Amun EI (indicted name Mario T. Herring) was named as a Defendant in a three-count Indictment filed February 19, 2013, alleging three separate instances of Possessing Counterfeit Money in violation of 18 U.S.C. ยง 472.

On March 13, 2013, Defendant made his initial appearance and Assistant Federal Public Defender Linda Cohn was appointed as counsel for Defendant. Defendant's arraignment was held on March 19, 2013. At his arraignment, Defendant indicated that his name is Hondo Amun El. Defendant refused representation by the Federal Public Defender explain that he did not sign any contract with the Public Defender's Office and indicated that no attorney would be acceptable to represent him because in his view an attorney is first of all an officer of the Court thereby creating a conflict of interest.

Defendant also refused to accept receipt of the indictment when it was handed to him, explaining that because the indictment is against "Mario T. Herring" it does not reflect the natural person known as Hondo Amun El. He stated that Mario T. Herring is a dissolved entity, whereas Hondo Amun el is a flesh and blood American indigenous to the area. We note that in a NCIC Report the Defendant has used 31 names at various times.

Defendant also repeatedly questioned the Magistrate Judge's authority and whether jurisdiction was properly established.

Due to the need for clarification we conducted a status conference on April 9, 2013, to address the question of representation of Defendant. At this hearing, Defendant questioned my authority and whether this Court had jurisdiction over this matter. He also asked for proof that I am in fact a Federal Judge. I did show to Defendant my oath of office. Defendant read the oath and then asked for, and received, permission to read the document into the record.

During the hearing Defendant continued to refuse to be represented by the Federal Public Defender, but also refused to state that he wanted to represent himself. In the end I ordered Defendant to be evaluated for competency to stand trial.

Following his evaluation a very detailed Report was prepared indicating that Defendant was competent to stand triaL The Report explained that Defendant is fixed on following a legal strategy based on deviant ideology consistent with the sovereign citizen defense and also based on his self-identification as a Moorish American. Consistent with Defendant's letters sent to the Court and his statements in Court, during his evaluation Defendant challenged the legality of the charges against him by citing jurisdictional issues, Constitutional arguments, birth rights, and his own identity.

As he has done in documents sent to the Court, Defendant claimed to the evaluator that the name Mario T. Herring on the Indictment is a corporate construct created by the corporate government for monetary purposes. He further explained that the entity named "Mario T. Herring" was dissolved in June 2010. In general, he does not recognize the existence of the United States, and he does not believe that this court has jurisdiction over him or the subject matter. The Report indicated that although Defendant's legal claims align with various positions of the sovereign citizen movement, they do not represent any delusional thought processes or disturbances. Furthermore, it was noted in the Report that Defendant's arguments appeared to be coherent and well thought-out, however, his arguments were illogically based on faulty legal reasoning.

With respect to whether counsel was representing Defendant the Report indicated that Defendant said he did not have a defense attorney, claiming that he was "in propria persona." He further explained that he never entered into a contract with an attorney and has no plan to work with an Officer of the Court. He further reported that he has been planning his pro se defense. These statements clearly indicate that Defendant never seriously contemplated any strategy other than self-representation. The Report also noted that Defendant's maladaptive interpersonal style, fringe ideologies, and antisocial cynicism may interfere with any attorney's attempts to establish a collaborative relationship. Finally, the evaluator concluded that Defendant is not likely to accept legal assistance.

Following receipt of the Report we held a Competency hearing on August 6, 2013, after which I found Defendant competent. In addition, based on the Report as well as the statements of counsel and Defendant, I dismissed the Assistant Federal Public Defender initially appointed to represent Defendant. I then appointed new counsel, Steven Townsend, Esquire, to represent Defendant.

Mr. Townsend attempted to meet with Defendant at the prison but Defendant refused to meet with him. We therefore scheduled a status conference to address the issue of Defendant's representation.

During the September 19, 2013 hearing Defendant was combative and uncooperative. He refused to answer questions posed by the Court and attempted to veer the discussion to frivolous and irrelevant matters consistent with his fringe ideology.

Because Defendant had indicated in his papers that he was claiming to appear in court "in propria persona" while also claiming that he was "not pro se, we instructed him as to what the term "in propria persona" meant. We explained that the term "in propria persona" is an old outdated term that many prisoners seem to want to use without knowing its meaning. It was formerly a rule of pleading used during a time when a person wanted to challenge the jurisdiction of a court, but if the person did so ...

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