Support the Timberjay by making a donation.

Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Federal lawsuit by “sovereign citizen” dismissed

Jodi Summit
Posted 4/24/24

SOUDAN- Breitung Township received some good news this past week on a couple different fronts. First, a federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit against Breitung Police Officer Jim Battin that had been …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Federal lawsuit by “sovereign citizen” dismissed


SOUDAN- Breitung Township received some good news this past week on a couple different fronts. First, a federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit against Breitung Police Officer Jim Battin that had been filed last fall in the U.S. District Court in Minneapolis.
The lawsuit, filed by Jonothan-David Fuller, came after a run-of-the-mill traffic stop in Breitung Township, when Battin discovered that Fuller was driving with a suspended license.
Fuller is part of the sovereign citizen movement, a loosely-affiliated group of anti-government activists, litigants, tax protesters, financial scammers, and conspiracy theorists. Sovereign citizens have their own pseudo-legal belief system based on misinterpretations of common law and claim to not be subject to any government statutes unless they consent to them.
Breitung Police Chief Dan Reing said that Fuller did not protest when Battin issued him the ticket last fall, but Fuller filed the lawsuit on Oct. 11, 2023, and a summons was issued to Battin. Fuller paid a $402 fee to file the case.
Fuller filed a “Global-Postal-Union-Treaty” notice against the township in U.S. District Court, and the suit went on to state the matter was a “Martial-Law-Neutral-Claim Suit.”
The judgment dismissing the case said, “it is not clear how a treaty can also be a lawsuit,” and added there was no obvious claim presented in the document or a specific request for relief.
United States District Judge John R. Tunheim ruled that the lawsuit was frivolous, noting the language, style, and accoutrements of the “Global-Postal-Union-Treaty” included Fuller’s literal fingerprint on each page of the document, which are familiar hallmarks of the sovereign citizen movement.
“Courts show no hesitation in rejecting as frivolous arguments based on the theory of sovereign citizenship,” the judgment noted, and said the federal court had no jurisdiction in the matter.
The township received notice that the lawsuit had been dismissed on Dec. 14, 2023. The Minnesota Association of Townships Insurance Trust covered the township’s expenses in the suit. As far as Reing knew, the ticket had been paid. The case was dismissed without prejudice, which gave Fuller a 90-day window to refile his complaint. But the complaint was not refiled, so the township’s attorney contacted the township on April 4 and said the litigation has been vacated.
Road funding
In other positive news, the township will be receiving $544,000 from the state’s Local Road Improvement Program (LRIP) for the rerouting of the Thompson Farm Rd. The project has an estimated total cost of $633,000, including engineering, which is not eligible for LRIP funding.
The rerouting of the road will create an access for the new ATV campground in the state recreation area, as well as access to the Taconite Trail. The township will now work with MnDOT and St. Louis County, and township engineer John Jamnick, who said bids on the project probably couldn’t go out until the fall.
“We were hoping to get it done this year,” said Chairman Tim Tomsich, who said this new road route will also connect to a road being built in the state park.
Tomsich said the township is seeking help with the engineering fee portion of the project from both the DNR and MnDOT. He said the project was one of 400 submitted to the LRIP program this year, and it was deemed one of the most important for funding.
Other township projects this year include the Stuntz Bay Rd. project, and work on infrastructure on Center St.
Police report
Breitung Police Chief Dan Reing said March had been a very busy month with 93 calls. The department conducted two investigations, one was assisting the BCA and resulted in a felony charge for a dishonored check. Reing asked that area residents be mindful of emergency vehicles with flashing lights, and be sure to pull over at the earliest, safest location.
The township received a query from a resident who wants to build a chicken coop and was confused by the wording of the current township animal ordinance. The ordinance states that each residence is allowed up to three animals, and that four chickens is equivalent to one animal.
“I’m not worried about chickens,” said Reing, since the department would not be in charge of enforcement.
Tomsich said the township should update and clarify the ordinance and would revisit the issue at their May meeting.
The board opted to table a request from Aaron Kania to designate a portion of an existing trail by the McKinley Park gravel pit as non-motorized, so the township can get more information on the wider trails plan. There is a section of the motorized Prospector Trail that would take motorized traffic in the area. The trail Kania mentioned would be part of a hiking trail that would bring people to McKinley Park.
Tomsich said he didn’t have any objection, but wanted to see how the request fits into the current trails planning that was done by Tower and Breitung, and the township and city’s efforts to finish the loop trail between the two campgrounds.

Wastewater ponds
Supervisor and Tower-Breitung Waste Water plant manager Matt Tuchel said the TBWWB had been awarded a million dollars from the federal government, out of a $3.37 million request. The money will cover engineering and design work needed for an expansion of the wastewater treatment ponds. Tower is planning to submit a second request for federal funding for FY25 to complete the project. The project would update the treatment system, as well as build more capacity for future development, mostly in Tower, according to Tuchel. Tuchel said the process for accessing the funds was going to be complicated, and he had already sat through a two-hour webinar on the how the program works.

Other business
In other business at the April 18 meeting, the board:
• Heard a complaint during public input from resident Tony Sikora, who was angry about the housing survey the township had mailed out to township residents. Sikora wanted to know who had paid for the mailing, and if the mailing was authorized by the town board.
“Everybody in my town has a home or rents a home,” Sikora said. Township officials explained that the survey, which cost around $100 to print and mail, was approved by the town board, and was part of efforts being made by a housing group that Breitung is part of.
Sikora said the township should have held a public meeting on the issue and said he will be bringing up the issue again. He then left the meeting.
• Set the township’s local board of assessment and equalization (for 2025 property tax assessments) for Tuesday, April 30 at 1 p.m. at the community building in Soudan.
The next regular board meeting will be on Thursday, May 16 at 6 p.m.