Man questions District Court, but is jailed

Leinster Leader, 25th May 2010

A man who questioned the legal powers of the District Court after he was charged with driving without insurance was jailed for six months at Kilcock District Court last Thursday.

Stephen Sutton, 67 The Walk, Moyglare Hall, Maynooth, who described himself as “Stephen of the family Sutton”, was jailed for six months after the Court found he had driven without insurance in the Moyglare area of Maynooth on 3 December last.

He was also disqualified from driving for two years and fined €2,500 for that offence.

A further €400 fine was imposed on him for driving without a licence and a €500 for speeding.

When his name was called initially, Mr Sutton questioned the legality of the procedure under which he was charged and it took a little time to establish his name.

The hearing was briefly adjourned so that the prosecuting garda could be brought to court.

When it began in full, Mr Sutton was allowed by Judge Zaidan to read out a document in relation to his case, including the legality of the fixed penalty notice system.

It emerged that Mr. Sutton had been given a warning that he could be arrested if he did not give a proper name when he was stopped at 12.30pm on December 3, travelling at 76kph in a 50kmph zone.

The defendant had asked Garda Houlihan at the scene if the Garda was acting lawfully.

He told the Garda he would produce his documents at Maynooth Garda Station but there was no record of them, said Garda Houlihan.

The Court was told Mr Sutton failed to pay the fixed penalty fine but that there was a lot of correspondence with the fine office in Thurles.

Mr. Sutton, who had no previous convictions for an offence of this type, did not cross-examine the Garda on his sworn evidence but did read a statement into the Court record, stating that he “came here to state my claim as a sovereign man”.

He said: “I have committed no crime. I have damaged nobody.”

He said he respected any properly constituted court but it had to be properly constituted.

Judge Zaidan strongly suggested he seek legal advice but Mr. Sutton opted to represent himself and said he would “waive all benefits and privileges.”

At a number of points he interupted Judge Zaidan and was told he could get seven days’ jail for contempt for making a mockery of the Court.

He replied that he would put any interuption “down to nerves”.

He said he had requested that a document of his would be passed to the judge but Judge Zaidan told Mr Sutton he would have to address the issue in public. “I do not deal with private correspondence with you or the Taoiseach,” said Judge Zaidan.

Mr. Sutton said he referred to Article 41 of the Irish Constitution, but the Gaelic version of it, not the blue book “masquerading” as the “true text” in all outlets.

The document described the fixed penalty system as a “money exchanging facility” and questioned under which authority the District Court was operating, asking if it was under “maritime admiralty” or “common law” jurisdiction.

When his submission was finished, he handed in a copy to the court.

In handing down sentence, Judge Zaidan said he would direct Mr Sutton to get “psychiatric treatment as appropriate” while in prison.

As Mr. Sutton was escorted out of the courtroom, he said: “You are breaking the law here.”

4 Responses

  1. …why would he argue his case on article 41…

    Because he has been receiving advice from Freemen rather than qualified legal practitioners…?

    he should have argued it under 37

    How would that have helped? His ability to represent himself wasn’t infringed, and his decision to spout nonsense has no bearing whatsoever on his refusal to comply to with the orders of the court – orders that carry the authority of the Constitution itself in articles 34-37 (eg: “Justice shall be administered in courts established by law by judges appointed in the manner provided by this Constitution, and, save in such special and limited cases as may be prescribed by law, shall be administered in public.“, emphasis added).

    he should have argued it under…40

    How would that have helped? The article makes reference to the law (eg: Article 40.4.1 “No citizen shall be deprived of his personal liberty save in accordance with law“, emphasis added).

    Since the present case was in accordance with law, article 40 has no application. The laws of relevance here are as follows:
    – The authority of the courts, which the Constitution authorises in the quote I gave previously.
    – Traffic laws (eg: Road Traffic Act 1961) passed by the Oireachtas, which the Constitution conferred the power to do (eg: article 15.2.1 “The sole and exclusive power of making laws for the State is hereby vested in the Oireachtas: no other legislative authority has power to make laws for the State.”).

    also his right under the echr to challenge his accuser…

    But we know who his accusers are – Mr. Houlihan and the Gardai. Since the accused has no ability to (or, it seems, any willingness to attempt to) refute the accusations (such presenting proof of insurance) I don’t see how any invocation of the ECHR would help. Moreover, the ECHR can only rule on whether a given court correctly applied the laws of that court’s country (which it clearly did in this case) or whether the European Convention on Human Rights was violated (which it clearly didn’t).

    Relevant portions from the convention (my emphasis):

    “Article 5 – Right to liberty and security. Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be deprived of his liberty save in the following cases and in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law:
    – the lawful detention of a person after conviction by a competent court;
    – the lawful arrest or detention of a person for non-compliance with the lawful order of a court or in order to secure the fulfilment of any obligation prescribed by law;”

    “Article 6 – Right to a fair trial. In the determination of his civil rights and obligations or of any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law.”

    Perhaps it would help if you bothered to read either the Constitution or the European Convention on Human Rights? Citing them when a simple reading shows they don’t support your position is just odd.


  2. article 41 of the constitutions has noting to do with anything but only the right of the family. why would he argue his case on article 41 he should have argued it under 37 40 and also his right under the echr to challenge his accuser and his right to fair judicial procedure and he should have informed the court from the offset in writing that he wished the court to invoke his constitutional rights under article 40 which brings the judges constitutional oath into being or other wise forces the judge to adhere to his constitutional oath. but Mr Sutton should have envoked his rights under art 40 in writen submission before the court and the court would have had no other choice but to address the issue


  3. He shouldn’t have gone near the court.

    And when after his no show and the Gardai execute the resulting bench warrant and physically bring the person to court, what then….?

    An extra fine for the contempt of court on top of any fine/punishment for the original offence I imagine. Not great advice that.


  4. He shouldn’t have gone near the court. You have to really know what you’re doing and this man didn’t. So they fined him ridiculous to warn others off. Don’t go near their courts.


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