Alberta judge bars new ‘pseudo law’ advocate who claims Magna Carta puts her outside court’s authority

First there were the “detaxers,” who claimed that their physical, human selves were exempt from taxation rules. Then came the “freemen of the land” who said Canadian law only applied to them if they consented to it. Most didn’t. Now a lengthy Alberta court decision has revealed a new version of what legal experts term “pseudo law,” and cracked down on one of its most prolific practitioners.

A woman calling herself Jacquie Phoenix and representing the mother in a bitter child-custody dispute says she has pledged allegiance to a British lord and invoked an article of the Magna Carta that means Canada’s laws and courts do not apply to her and her client. She threatened a judge with “the gallows” if he didn’t comply. Phoenix, whose legal name is Robinson, is one of a number of followers of a scheme Justice Robert Graesser calls the “Magna Carta Lawful Rebellion” who have notified Alberta courts recently of their supposed legal immunity.He barred her from representing the mother — saying Robinson had abused the court process as a “busybody” interloper — and said he’s inclined to prohibit her from acting for any clients in Alberta courts.

“I can only guess at the scope and kind of misconduct and self-injury that results from (the Magna Carta) belief,” said the Court of Queen’s Bench judge. “But in this case I know that there is a little four-year-old girl whose health, safety, and well-being are being placed in jeopardy by these ideas.”

The decision also goes to some lengths to refute the movement’s “nonsensical” arguments — by noting, for instance, that the article 61 followers cite was actually removed from the Magna Carta over 700 years ago. Graesser said he’s taking the unusual step of sending a copy of his decision to the U.K. aristocrat at the centre of the scheme. “I think he should know that the hundreds, if not thousands of oaths of allegiance that he is receiving are part of an organized campaign of deception and disinformation.”

In a statement about the ruling, a woman with a Facebook page under the name Jacquie Phoenix told the National Post that article 61 is the “highest constitutional law ever written” and is the only law in effect today. It deposed Queen Elizabeth and dissolved all her governments, and makes any of the Alberta court’s rulings “null and void,” she said. “The Court of Queen’s Bench is operating as a foreign corporation, which is high treason,” Phoenix wrote. “They have no authority to deal with this matter.” The Facebook page heavily promotes the Magna Carta theory, even discussing how Phoenix was offering courses on the idea over Zoom. One commenter asked if Queen Elizabeth had been dethroned, and whether there were documents she could show others to prove it. Yes, replied Phoenix to the first question, saying the monarch had been “fired from her job” via article 61.

Other types of misinformation and conspiracy theory make appearances on the page, too, including a reference to the COVID-19 pandemic as “nonsense.” Phoenix posts one video promoting the conspiracy theory about a cabal of Satanic pedophiles within the U.S. Democratic Party, and another discussing the “overthrow” of billionaire George Soros, a timeworn target of conspiracists, anti-Semites and the far right. Both videos appear to have been removed by Facebook.

The concept behind Robinson’s foray into the courts is strange but convoluted. She and other followers say they pledged an oath of allegiance to Lord Craigmyle of Invernesshire, one of 28 British peers who urged the Queen in 2001 to block the U.K.’s signing of the Treaty of Nice, an accord that extended the powers of the European Union parliament. The aristocrats cited the 1215 Magna Carta, a landmark but largely historical document now that set out the rights of British nobility under the unpopular King John. Specifically, they cited article 61, which allowed a committee of barons to seize castles and other assets of the king if he contravened provisions of the Magna Carta. Others could swear allegiance to the nobles and follow their lead. 

Nothing came of the tactic, but today’s adherents contend that as a result of the 2001 move, laws and courts of the Commonwealth don’t apply to them. Graesser’s ruling revolves around a hard-fought custody battle between parents referred to as AVI, the father, and MHVB, the mother. MHVB faces abduction charges after unlawfully keeping their daughter in the U.S. “I can only guess at the scope and kind of misconduct and self-injury that results from (the Magna Carta) belief…”

In a letter to the judge in June, Robinson — who is not a lawyer — tells him that she now represents the mother. If he does not order the return of the daughter — referred to as the mother’s “property” — within seven days, he will be guilty of high treason and subject to the gallows, she says. Graesser said the woman has no right to represent the mother, and then dismantled the Magna Carta movement itself. He notes that article 61 was removed from the document by 1216, and that only three, unrelated clauses remain part of the British constitution today. Meanwhile, Canada repatriated its constitution in 1982, meaning no part of the British supreme law applies here.

As for Lord Craigmyle, he said in a 2018 interview with Operation Beacon, a British-based group that also promotes various conspiracy theories, he had received “tens of thousands” of oaths of allegiance. He suggests gathering all the names in one place, creating an “army” of article 61 rebels. Pseudo law is often adopted by “rebels or revolutionaries” who pursue their goals through odd, fabricated legal principles rather than by force, says a recent article in the Alberta Law Review.

Lawyer Richard Warman and Donald Netolitzky, a legal adviser to the Court of Queen’s Bench, identified 51 cases where adherents tried to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. In every one, the top court refused to even hear the case, a clear signal that “pseudolaw is not the law of Canada,” they wrote in the paper.”