I was recently drawn back to the discussion of the phenomenon
identified by Associate Chief Justice Rooke of the Alberta Court of
Queen’s Bench as “Organized Pseudo-legal Commercial
Argument” (OPCA) litigants. This happy return was
precipitated by the proliferation through social media of an
Ontario case, R. v. Duncan, 2013 ONCJ 160. This case
is a fantastic read, not only for its reference to monkeys on
typewriters and the general unreliability of the internet, but also
for its interesting legal analysis of Ontario motor vehicle
legislation. More importantly, it brings into perspective the
importance of Meads v. Meads, 2012 ABQB 571 as what
might be described as an omnibus work of Canadian jurisprudence on
the subject of OPCA litigants.
In his expansive decision in Meads, Rooke ACJ addressed a broad
range of issues that can be raised by OPCA litigants. That case
arose from a divorce action, wherein the Defendant Dennis Larry
Meads advanced any number of vexatious and hopeless arguments on
the basis of fictitious legal principles learned on the internet,
among other places. These principles are expounded by
“gurus” who teach these arguments to credulous laymen.
The Court responded directly to these OPCA gurus, stating:
In his poem Inferno at Cantos 26-30, Dante placed the
“evil counsellors” – those who used their
position to advise others to engage in fraud, and “the
falsifiers” – alchemists, counterfeiters, perjurers,
and imposters, into the inner canyons of the eighth circle of hell.
As sinners, the evil counsellors and falsifiers were matched by
those who induce religious schisms, and surpassed only in fault by
Persons who purposefully promote and teach proven ineffective
techniques that purport to defeat valid state and court authority,
and circumvent social obligations, appear to fall into those two
categories. That they do so, and for profit at the expense of naive
and vulnerable customers, is worse.
Associate Chief Justice Rooke systematically dealt with the
arguments favoured by OPCA litigants, with the express purpose of
saving the time of courts that would deal with these types of cases
in the future. The value of this contribution cannot be overstated.
As identified in Meads, OPCA litigants are ubiquitous
throughout Canadian jurisdictions. Already, the salutary effects of
Rooke ACJ’s judgment can be observed, as these examples of
subsequent case law demonstrate:
A person accused of resisting arrest argued that he was not
subject to the Court’s jurisdiction, and then proceeded to
distinguish between himself and his “administrator”.
With numerous comments about the “patent rubbish on the
internet”, Mr. Justice O’Donnell concluded that the
chain of events leading to the arrest was flawed, and thus the
arrest itself was invalid and any resistance to that arrest was not
an offence. On the basis of Meads, the accused’s
vexatious arguments were dismissed in a summary manner.
A self-styled “law-speaker” in the area of Duncan,
BC, Mr. Goodwin had represented a number of accused persons in a
vexatious manner. Mr. Justice Greyell relied on Meads to
find that an attack against a Superior Court’s inherent
jurisdiction constituted vexatious behaviour.
On a motion to strike a further amended notice of appeal, Madame
Justice Campbell of the Tax Court of Canada relied on
Meads to identify the Appellant as an OPCA litigant. The
Appellant called the Meads decision
“prejudicial”, clearly hoping that the Court would
ignore it. Campbell J., of course, did the opposite and found that
the further amended notice of appeal was an abuse of the
Court’s process, and had it struck.
At the time of writing, there are six further reported decisions
citing Meads, and there is no doubt that many more will
follow. Hopefully the spread of this decision will influence
potential OPCA litigants away from future attempts to make these
hopeless arguments. In the event that it is not successful,
Meads will remain as the cornerstone judgment by which
such arguments can be thwarted with a minimum of effort.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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