LIME SPRINGS – A federal judge has declined to throw out weapons charges brought by a former Lime Springs man who argued the courts don’t have jurisdiction over him.
Michael Duane Strain, a 62-year-old self-described sovereign citizen, had been on the run for almost eight years before he was caught living on a ranch on the Crow Indian Reservation in Montana in July.
Last month, Strain, who is acting as his own attorney, challenged a United States district court’s ability to charge him, saying he had earlier severed his ties with the United States.
“Michael Duane; of the Strain family is NOT an artificial person and does not represent any artificial person. He is a live, blood and flesh man living on the soil. Michael Duane; of the Strain family expatriated from the UNITED STATES which can only hear cases involving artificial entities,” Strain wrote in his request, which was followed by a dozen pages pertaining to a section of U.S. Code.
Last week, Judge C.J. Williams ruled against Strain’s motion, noting he had missed by more than a month the deadline to argue for dismissal. The judge went on to rule that, even if Strain had met the deadline, he was would have dismissed the defense motion because his brief pertained to the authority of the secretary of the treasury.
“Even if this argument had any relevance here, courts have repeatedly found it to be frivolous,” Williams ruled. “The court also notes that it has jurisdiction over all offenses against the laws of the United States, not simply offenses involving artificial entities as defendant asserts. … Defendant has been indicted under federal law and is therefore properly before this court.”
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Trial is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 15 in U.S. District Court in Cedar Rapids.
Authorities said Strain has prior convictions in Minnesota for fleeing a peace officer, possession of explosives and possession of a short-barrel shotgun from the early 2000s.
In 2010 and 2011, Strain, then living in Iowa, began purchasing ammunition, and once examined a Mosin-Nagant bolt action rifle at a firearm store. The rifle was later purchased by another person living at his home, court records state.
In November 2010, he allegedly brought a .22-caliber Marlin rifle without a stock to a gun dealer for repairs, and when law enforcement searched his home in July 2011, they found the Mosin-Nagant rifle along other rifles, shotguns, revolvers and a semiautomatic pistol. Most of the weapons were near windows and exits, court records state.
A grand jury indicted him on firearm charges in October 2011, and Strain remained at large and on an ATF most-wanted list until July when he was found in Montana with more guns.