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A Michigan woman is calling on Governor Rick Snyder to intervene and protect her from being put in a federal prison. Citing what she calls a crudely engineered criminal conviction for her refusal to comply with unlawful orders of a federal court. Orders commanding not just that she must testify, but what she must say.
Doreen Hendrickson was charged two years ago with criminal contempt of court for refusing to comply with DOJ- and IRS-requested orders from a federal court in 2007. The court commanded Hendrickson to amend her freely-made tax returns for 2002 and 2003 with content dictated by the tax agency, by which she would be made to declare that all her earnings for those years are subject to the income tax.
She was also ordered to conceal the fact that the words are not her own. Such orders have never been made to an American before in history, whether in regard to a tax return or any other kind of document or testimony. “This is not a tax case. This is about my right to be in charge of my own testimony, to speak my conscience, and to protect my own property interests in a legal contest, even when that contest is with my government,” Hendrickson says. “If the court can force me to amend my return, put numbers on it dictated by the IRS that I know aren’t correct, and make me hide the fact that I was coerced, then you might as well set fire to the Bill of Rights.”
Mrs. Hendrickson has consistently testified on affidavits and in every hearing and trial that has been held
concerning the matter that she doesn't believe all of her earnings are, in fact, taxable. The government
has never produced any evidence to the contrary, always simply arguing that she ought to believe
differently because the IRS wants her to, and because the judge appears to believe what Hendrickson is
being ordered to say.
Mrs. Hendrickson views the orders made to her to be violations of her right to control the content of her
own speech, and of her right to due process, since they demand that she declare agreement with her
adversary's position on the taxable character of certain kinds of earnings-- a matter which otherwise
would likely be in dispute in future litigation's between her and the United States. Mrs. Hendrickson also views the orders as a violation of her right to refuse to be a witness against herself, since being forced to declare something contradicting her prior-filed returns now would not only compel her to commit perjury today, but would amount to a declaration that her previously-made testimony was false.
Mrs. Hendrickson strenuously argues that the orders she is accused of disobeying are unlawful, and
therefore her refusal cannot be criminal contempt. After all, the statute she is accused of violating,
specifically qualifies that it is disobedience of a lawful order that is punishable.
The government attorneys and the judge that presided over her trials apparently agree. At the
government’s urging the judge instructed Mrs. Hendrickson's jury that it must disregard the
unlawfulness or unconstitutionality of the orders when deciding whether she was guilty of criminal
contempt for resisting them.
The judge also instructed the jury that it need not unanimously find that Hendrickson actually did either
of the two distinct alleged acts of contempt with which she was charged—another unprecedented feature
of her trial. The trial ended in November, 2013 in a hung jury, and the government then tried again in
July of 2014. At the close of the second trial, her jury, thus instructed, declared Mrs. Hendrickson to be
On April 9, 2015, Judge Victoria Roberts of the U.S. District Court in Detroit sentenced Mrs.
Hendrickson to 18 months in prison. Mrs. Hendrickson was ordered to surrender herself into federal custody within 60 days—IF she submitted new amended returns with the government’s numbers and without any hint that they were coerced or disclaimed—otherwise, she would be forced to surrender within 30 days. Thus, the court continues to pressure Mrs. Hendrickson not only to give up her civil
rights, but to commit a felony by filing false tax returns.
“This case is unprecedented. Mrs. Hendrickson is appealing, and we are confident that the Sixth Circuit
will do the right thing and see this trial and conviction as unsupportable in a free society,” said her
attorney, Mark Cedrone of Philadelphia. Fearing, however, that she will be made to suffer this penalty
even while waiting for her appeal to be heard, Mrs. Hendrickson has asked Michigan's Governor Rick
Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette to stand in vindication of her Constitutionally-secured rights
between her and the federal officials.
Governor Snyder and AG Schuette have not yet responded to Mrs. Hendrickson's request.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Commerce Twp., Michigan, April 22, 2015
Contact information: Pete Hendrickson firstname.lastname@example.org
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