I have been attacked before, but this latest was truly unexpected; it comes from an LRN podcast host, Michael Dean. Mike emailed this open letter to me late Wed. night and before I could respond, he had already posted it.
What is unfortunate is despite how accessible I am, by phone, email, the forum, skype and what else, yeah that’s right, a three hour live radio show, Mike never contacted me prior to posting his emotional rant about me and worse, what I think are rude, uninformed comments about the people I work with and those who follow the show. I was surprised at the complete lack of respect and common courtesy from Mike. I don’t like doing this; my initial impression is to just delete the email give it the same consideration Mike gave me: none. An objective, independent investigation will prove Mike is just being emotional and is very uniformed.
“You and I have never spoken, but we have a lot of the same friends.”
That’s not a good way to start an open letter to someone you’re being critical of. I have not had any contact with Mike before; all I have is his open letter. I have never heard of him or his podcast. As far as I know, he has not had any personal contact with anyone I’ve worked with. I was under the false impression that being on the same network, Mike would have thought to call, skype or email me before posting his emotional letter. It looks like the scope of his investigation was to email a lawyer who used to be a prosecutor.
Such emotional pieces are not worth my time; Mike’s letter is devoid of any critical thought and analysis. My radio show is live almost every week and dissent and vigorous challenge to all the content has always been encouraged. Those who listen to the show know this is true. My material is there for objective analysis, such as the Maryland tax hearing. The forum is also available if he wanted to discuss what I do with actual clients; there’s no evidence Mike did any investigation into the facts.
But, as Mike is also on LRN, instead of my usual response: you’re free to call into the show with your evidence; I will respond publicly and also invite him to come on my show and discuss the evidence he relies on to make his claims I’m doing more harm than good. Here we go with what I believe are the relevant parts the respond to:
“I am, like you, a fan of civil disobedience. I believe flexing rights with cops is good, and I believe it has its place with judges. I have respect for people who know the dangers, weigh the options and choose to do that on their own. But advising your “clients” (your word, not mine), who just want to stay out of jail, to go piss off the judge, especially in felony cases, is not helping anyone’s personal liberty. It’s doing quite the opposite.”
As we’ll see later, Mike does not really believe this first part about respecting people who choose to stand up for themselves in court. And people who just want to stay out of jail also want to effectively defend themselves and limit the damage.
If Mike had done any investigation, he’d know I do not advise clients to go and piss off judges. The only advice I give clients during consults is to make their court dates on time and always give opposing counsel copies of what they file with the clerk. What I do is lay out the situation they are in from a factual standpoint and talk about effective ways to limit the amount of damage the bureaucrats intend on doing. My clients (why do so many people get hung up on the word client?) are adults and decide for themselves what the best course of action is, not me as Mike accuses me of. I’m guessing Mike did not bother to contact any of my clients and discuss this alleged legal advice. All he had to do was get on the forum and he could speak with any number of them and find out for himself. I guess being a lover of liberty does not include being a lover of the facts. If you don’t have time to make some calls and investigate, then maybe accusations should be kept private.
“I know that on your website you state that you are not an attorney (though you do charge $100 an hour for phone consultations). But people calling in on your show may not know that you are not an attorney, as you seem to present yourself as an attorney. Therefore people may place their trust in you and act upon your advice based upon a mistaken understanding.”
I fail to see how charging $100 per hour for consults would convey the impression to anyone I’m a lawyer. Most start at double that. Not so subtle an insult Mike.
People who listen to the show know I’m not a lawyer; my disdain for the legal “profession” could only be described as epic. I have constantly reminded and reinforced that I’m not a lawyer and have been attacked several times by a bar association. Each attack was defeated though, Mike never asked about it. Again, I do not give such advice. I present what has been effective for me, and replicated for more than a decade in North America, parts of Europe, Australia and New Zealand and clients and listeners make an informed decision that is best for them. What advice I do give in general is usually as acts of civil disobedience when I encourage non-violent, non-compliance.
“I’ve listened to your show before, and I listened to your talk with Jillian the other day. I know Jillian. I posted some of her bail when she was busted in Texas recently. I speak with her frequently. The Freedom Feens podcast has also, for several month, given free ad time for her confectionery company on our Sunday live show, ad time that we also sell to other people. In short, she’s a friend, and I care about her.”
Apparently Mike doesn’t pay attention to what’s being said on the show if he’s really listening. From the emotional tone of the letter, it appears Mike has an attachment to Jillian and is taking things personally, and there is nothing for him to be upset about. If he knows Jillian and respects her as an intelligent, autonomous adult, then he’ll leave her to make her own decisions, decisions that are hers to make, not Mike’s. I’ll assume Jillian knows what’s best for Jillian.
“I was pretty appalled by some of your advice to her. Some of your advice might make sense to someone who was willing to grandstand in court to make a point, didn’t mind doing some jail time, didn’t have a kid, had money for a lawyer as a backup if needed, and was only facing misdemeanor charges in their home town. It was not helpful advice for a young mother with no money trying to stay out of prison and facing two drug felonies outside her home state. Particularly when the charges are pending in Texas, and after Jillian told you that the judge already hates her.”
“Appalled”? Really? It was not advice, I did not tell her she should do anything I mentioned, I told her about what has proven to be very effective at limiting the damage the terrocrats want to inflict and she was free to think about it and contact me off air if she had questions and was interested. I did not pressure Jillian or send her any information off-air, I treated her as an adult; if she was interested, she could get more information on the website and contact me. I should be insulted that you think I’d expect someone who listens to a few minutes of how I do things will just run off and do it. She never heard the material before, wow. Mike assumes an awful lot.
And if Jillian did investigate the material and decide she may want to defend herself the way I do, who is Mike that he knows what’s best for Jillian?
Mike is saying that challenging the fictions terrocrats use to cover up their violence is not an effective way to defend oneself. Really? Where’s the evidence Mike? Why give the judge and prosecutor a free pass? It’s called defensive strategery and it’s very effective despite your opinion.
And what’s this about grandstanding anyway? I always say we have to be calm, professional and treat them they way we want to be treated.
“By the end of your talk with Jillian, she was saying “That makes sense!” and cheerfully saying “Thank you!” In short, she sounded like she thought you were the solution she was looking for. She’s smart, but you confidently present yourself as having some basis for being able to give advice.”
Yes, because what I present on the show does make sense. It’s based on observation, experience, replication and is predictive. What part of the material in that segment doesn’t make sense Mike? Mike does not take the time explain. You know how much guts it takes to ask a judge who he represents Mike? It’s a very effective method of exposing the lie the judge is a fair, impartial decision maker. But it takes guts, defending yourself against psychopaths is no walk in the park. I deal with psychopaths every single day, I know the type of people were dealing with in court and I don’t take that lightly as Mike implies.
Yes, she said thanks, but that doesn’t mean she’s going to just take what I mentioned in that brief segment and blindly follow. If you do believe she’s smart, then give the woman some credit. I explicitly tell everyone to not take anyone’s word for anything, to investigate and independently verify what I present. I have objective examples on the website and forum so people can decide for themselves. If Mike listened to show he’d know that.
“You even said to Jillian on the show “We’re very confident of the material on this show.”
Of course; I investigate, I verify and I verify again. I speak almost exclusively from personal experience. People who have replicated my results have called the show and testified and have posted their evidence on the forum. I can be confident because I not only have years of replication with people as far as Australia, but I can also predict results, again even in places in England where I’ve never been. Those are pretty big scientific factors. If Mike had done some investigation, he would know that. I always tell people they should investigate and verify for themselves. Also, that was part of a joke being that Jillian had never heard the show before. At the No State Project, we’re enlarging the audience one guest at a time.
“Randy is a former prosecutor and currently a privately practicing attorney, with decades of criminal law experience, a lot of it with drug charges. He’s also a philosophical anarchist. He was taken aback by your advice. He said, “I believe that required licensing for anything is tyrannical. But this guy Marc Stevens is a poster child for everyone who believes that required licensing for lawyers is a good thing.””
Again, the advice I give to clients is to make their courts date on time and provide opposing counsel all pleadings. Mike provides no evidence, only an appeal to authority. Anyone interested in the truth would not rely on an appeal to authority. This lawyer is welcome to call the show and present evidence proving what I am doing is not effective.
“Randy said that in most states, if Jillian retains a criminal defense lawyer, or even the public defender, she’s unlikely to get jail time, since it’s her first felony and drug possession offense. He said if Jillian takes your advice, acting pro se, and challenges the judge by asking “Where do you derive your authority?” and “Do you honestly think I can get a fair trial here?”, Jillian will almost certainly end up in a cage in Texas for a long time.”
Again, “Randy said” is an appeal to authority and offers no facts, just an opinion. It ignores the actual evidence where people have limited the damage on their own without a lawyer. And let’s not forget that lawyers, especially prosecutors, are known for being objective.
Also, I never said to ask: “Where do you derive your authority?” If this is from a facebook account, it’s not mine or my response. I don’t use facebook. I ask the judge who they represent, what the nature of their relationship is to the prosecutor and what facts they rely on proving how and why they acquired jurisdiction over me.
A lawyer recommending another lawyer, there’s a shock.
“Yet your “knowledge” of the law is such, Marc, that you sought Jillian out, you contacted her, and offered to her: “I can help with court stuff.”
That sort of “ambulance chasing” would be considered unethical for an actual attorney.”
Wow, quotes around “knowledge”. That’s a pretty low opinion Mike has of me. I sought her out as a guest because of the story and to let her know, and listeners in a similar position, what has been effective to defend against such attacks.
Here Mike makes me out to be worse than an ambulance chasing attorney. I guess to Mike offering information that has been used to stop attacks or minimize the damage, all available for free by calling the show and reading the site, forum and wiki page, is somehow “unethical”. The information is free and we have, again for free, groups of people who have been to court who hold regular role-playing sessions on skype to help prepare people for court. We have groups on three continents. A great example of spontaneous order and cooperation.
“wherein she said “I am not equipped to fight this financially”, and ” I’m so frightened thinking of the violence that may come in the near future from the state against me…”
Her fears notwithstanding, you still suggested she skip the public defender and act pro se and antagonistically challenge the judge.”
I told her in my and many other people’s experience (personal first hand knowledge) that most of us do much better or just as well as having a lawyer, especially when doing plea deals, and save the huge retainers lawyers demand. Lawyers charge for paperclips, have a violent monopoly and I’m unethical? (Is Mike really advocating people use lawyers?) I did not say it was the only way, I said it has been very effective and she was free to investigate and use the information if she wanted to. I help empower people, to help lessen the fear, Mike seems to want to feed it like the lawyers.
Even when clients lose in court, they usually tell me they are glad they stood up for themselves and they are not nearly as fearful. I see merit in that. Doesn’t mean I think everyone should. I leave that to each individual man and woman. Mike seems to think he knows what’s best for people he doesn’t know.
“You went on and on with this “question and challenge the judge” defense theory for your whole long talk with Jillian. This theory is largely what you promote on all your shows, and in your seminars, books, workshops, web forum, etc.”
It was only part of one segment, it may only have felt long because I’m from Long Island; we did discuss her business also. Theory? Alright, call it a “theory” instead of a method or tactic, maybe Mike doesn’t see a difference. Either way, challenging a lawyer on his fictions, such as having jurisdiction and being fair, impartial and independent is very effective with plenty of empirical evidence supporting it. Mike presents no evidence to the contrary and having heard the show and seen the forum he should have noticed people calling and reporting what happened when they questioned the lawyer forcing them to answer a cop’s complaint.
“I’ve heard you similarly advise other people who are not trying to “make a stand” but simply trying to serve the least amount of jail time as possible. In doing so, I feel that you are making people pawns in your plan of how to fight the system.”
Mike acts like I don’t know the difference between an activist and someone who just wants to be left alone. This is something Mike has in common with IRS agents. Also, I don’t advise people to do this, all I do is present the method, the model I and others have used, the rational behind it and what the results have been. I present the facts and show how the results have been consistently replicated and people, such as Keith in Toronto, choose to call the show to report what happened. Clients and listeners to the show then make an informed decision on their own. It seems to bother Mike a great deal when people make informed decisions on what is best for them to minimize the damage that is at odds with what Mike thinks is best.
The last part is where we really start to see Mike’s true colors: “I feel that you are making people pawns in your plan of how to fight the system.” Yes, Mike, you “feel”, but is your feeling based on evidence? It’s not just an attack against me, but very revealing on Mike’s opinion of people I work with and listen to the show.
I take what I do very seriously, to be accused of using people who are in traumatic situations and intentionally make things worse for them is not only baseless, but flies in the face of readily available evidence on my website. For a while I stopped getting personally involved with IRS attacks because agents were using me to make the client look bad and deflect attention away from their lack of evidence. Mike claims “I am, like you, a liberty lover…” but contradicts this by claiming I’m “making people pawns”. Not a surprise Mike never called the show or even emailed me. I’m a liberty lover who makes “people pawns”. Good grief; you see why I wrote there was no critical thought and analysis?
“Occasionally on your show you make self-deprecating comments like “Hey take my advice or don’t!” (usually followed by a laugh, like you’re joking). But that’s sadly lacking as a disclaimer, in my opinion. You make those jokes, then launch right back into pretending to know what you’re talking about, and give advice on how to “fight the man” to people who are just trying to stay out of jail. Your pet theory isn’t even particularly good advice for someone wanting to fight the man.”
Occasionally? If you listen to the show you know it’s constantly. Despite plenty of empirical evidence to the contrary, Mike accuses me of “pretending to know what [I’m] talking about”. If Mike feels I’m pretending, he’s free to call into the show anytime like anyone else who thinks what I’m presenting is not accurate. He’s chosen not to call, email or skype me about what I present and doesn’t take the time to write why. Mike also ignores the fact I always tell people to investigate and confirm what it presented, that is my disclaimer and adults understand that.
It’s not a theory or advice; it’s a method or tactic and it’s just asking questions, questions that have proven to be very effective. Mike only offers his opinion it is not particularly good. That’s fine, I put the material out for people to make their own decisions, if someone like Mike feels it is not good, I’m OK with that. Apparently Mike feels it’s not a good idea to challenge fictions by asking questions and knows best what other people should do.
“I have no ethical problem with someone practicing law without a license, if they’re good at it. But I don’t think you are good at it. One reason licensed, practicing attorneys are often much better at it then even the good “jailhouse lawyers” is that practicing attorneys have actually spent a lot of time in courtrooms in a wide variety of cases, and that’s where a lot of knowledge of the law comes from. They know the courts, the judges, and the (often persnickety) local rules. You can’t get it all from books.”
Mike feels what I present is just from books; he is wrong and the evidence to the contrary is overwhelming. I have been immersed in the courts and dealing with bureaucrats for more than a decade and speak from personal, first hand experience. Mike did not take anything I present and show where I am in error, there is no objective analysis and investigation.
Is it ethical to publicly post something about me without investigating first? To make accusations based on feelings and not facts? I don’t care if Mike doesn’t think I’m good at what I do; I let the evidence speak for itself i.e., the replication of my results. I’m also available for challenges to my material on my show and Mike could have asked me to be on his podcast before posting his letter. I have never backed away from a challenge to my material. I answer questions all day, 6 days a week; curiously, I’ve never gotten anything from Mike.
“In my opinion, you have a difficult time reconciling your vision of “how things should be in a perfect world” with how things are in reality. Your vision of “how things should be” has parallels to mine. You and I both believe that there should be private police and courts who actually have to earn their keep and only process real crimes, rather than the monopolistic tyrannical system of “justice” we have now.”
I don’t talk about a “perfect world”, I talk about getting to a voluntary society. Mike and I have very little in common; I look at the facts, to get as great an understanding of reality as possible and use that as a basis to defend against terrocrat attacks. An example is I don’t just accept the fiction a judge is a fair, impartial and independent decision maker. The facts are they are forcing me to answer a cop’s complaint, so I ask questions to bring this out. Unlike what Mike has done, I investigate and get the facts, I don’t go after people based on feelings and opinions.
“But by providing your “clients” with bad advice, advice that comes out of some sovereign citizen-esque fantasy of “how things should be”, and your faulty belief that magic words make tyrants melt in fear, I believe you are doing more harm than good.”
This statement reeks of emotion and bad faith to such a degree it’s not accurate to describe it as a distortion of the truth, it’s just wrong and deliberately wrong. And like I have to say to bureaucrats: Who are you responding to Mike? Because it certainly isn’t me or my material. Why is clients in quotes? Magic words? If you have listened to the show you failed to understand or pay attention. Your way of communicating is very similar to the way bureaucrats communicate. If you’re going to insult me, get your facts straight.
“I’m looking at your Facebook page right now, and reading a note to you from a woman who had her 18-year-old daughter try your “legal advice” by asking the judge “Do you really believe I can get a fair trial?” It didn’t help and the woman seemed astonished that the judge didn’t dismiss the case on the spot.”
I’ve publicly stated I don’t have a facebook, it’s not mine. Had you called or emailed me with any interest in getting the truth, you would have known that. Someone else started a No State Project twitter, I have since taken that over.
“There is no profit to me in railing on you. I love liberty media, and want there to be as much of it out there as possible. I spend hours each week giving free technical advice to people wanting to start or improve their podcasts and filmmaking. I get great joy from helping people create liberty media. Before today I would never have considered telling anyone “You should stop doing what you’re doing.”
And there’s no profit in responding to Mike’s emotional railing, devoid of any supporting evidence. There is profit/benefit when you show people respect and investigate prior to making accusations; it’s called credibility.
Mike may love liberty, but apparently does not have a love of investigating the facts to see if they are consistent with his feelings. Instead of railing, why not pick up the phone, email or skype me? Get on the forum and actually speak to a client. Do something resembling an objective investigation of the facts.
“I feel it’s an equally unwritten rule to not speak ill of fellow liberty activists. And your ideas about liberty are good. But when a fellow liberty activist is doing podcasts, radio, seminars, workshops, forums and books convincing people to do things that may endanger their liberty, without sufficient disclosure, I have to speak up.”
Great, speak up, that’s encouraged. Shouldn’t that include an objective investigation into the facts before “railing on” someone publicly? Mike could have called and confronted me directly on my live show; he decided not call, email or skype me. Kind of ironic Mike accuses me of not giving sufficient disclosure.
“Your legal advice would likely be solid if you were “practicing law” in a Heinlein novel. But in our current reality, much of your advice is not solid, and is more likely to hurt than to help. I wonder how many people are in jail or prison from following your advice.
I think your show, books, website and seminars are likely doing far more harm than good. I wish you’d do something productive instead. You’re a smart guy, and could certainly excel at many things that would not inadvertently harm others.”
I like the insults and then the disingenuous compliment; I can see why Mike chose not to call the show and make these accusations. Mike’s tactic is very clear throughout his letter, he provides no evidence my material (not advice) is not “solid”, accurate or effective. Mike has nothing but his feelings it is “more likely to hurt than help.” This is Mike’s standard of proof? His feelings and opinions? It reminds me of a call with an IRS agent a few weeks ago, when she didn’t have evidence, I asked: “Do you expect me to accept this on faith?”
Wish I’d do “something productive” and not “inadvertently harm” people? I’ve had IRS agents use this line several times. Maybe Mike doesn’t think the Maryland tax hearing was productive, but the man who was being attacked would disagree.
“At the very minimum, I think you should add a pre-recorded disclaimer with every caller and guest on your show, something like “Marc Stevens is not an attorney. And any advice he gives is aimed at activists who want to ‘fight the man’, not folks whose primary concern is to stay out of jail.”
At the very minimum, I think people should investigate the facts before making public accusations against someone. Pick up the phone, email or skype; do some independent research first; don’t go by feelings and appeals to authority. Show some minimum professionalism and get the facts straight before going public.
I’m so supposed to take advice from someone who thinks so little of me he does not investigate before he rails against me publicly, insults me and my clients? Mike must really think I’m an idiot. Well he’s got plenty of company there.
“People calling in to your show don’t know your whole deal. When people are facing the horror of actual prison time, and cannot afford an attorney, they are very vulnerable. You seem to offer a solution, but you don’t give them the full terms of what your “solution” entails.
I’m even willing to professionally record that disclaimer for you, for free, if you’d use it.”
You’re wrong Mike. You don’t have your facts straight. You assume people don’t know and I don’t give full disclosure. I would say it’s bold of you to make such statements, but it’s easy to make the accusations in writing the way you did. Bold would have been to call the show and confront me directly on live radio, something I encourage. And I do offer a proven, effective way of defending against bureaucrat attacks and give full disclosure. I’ve said on the radio hundreds of times asking a judge who he/she represents can cause them to come unglued, that calling them by their first names can cause them to become enraged. Mike’s lack of evidence is breathtaking and makes him appear more of a COINTELPRO agent than a liberty lover.
To write I make “pawns” out of vulnerable people is a petty insult and shows Mike’s true colors and motives. To think for a second I don’t care about the people I work with is evidence of just how uniformed Mike is. Obviously I won’t be taking Mike up on his offers to do anything “professionally” as the open letter thrown serious doubt over whatever professionalism Mike may have.
“I’m going to be reading this letter next week on the Freedom Feens podcast, and will also be posting it on my blogs, LibertarianPunk.com and MichaelWDean.com, and elsewhere
Feel free to read this letter and reply on your podcast. I’d also like to offer you the opportunity to come on my podcast and respond. If you’d prefer to respond via e-mail I will print your response on my blogs and read your reply on the podcast.”
When you read the letter for your podcast, at least have the decency to give a disclaimer you are presenting your opinion, feelings and an appeal to authority, not objective facts and you’ve done no investigation. Include the fact you never called, emailed or skyped me about your concerns and feelings. Try to include something along the line of:
“I had plenty of opportunity to confront Marc live and unrehearsed on his radio show, but I didn’t. I also freely chose to avoid any contact with Marc and otherwise investigate to get a reasonable understanding of the facts. Instead, I chose to accuse Marc, impugn his integrity and motives, based on feelings, opinions and an appeal to authority, a former prosecutor; prosecutors are well-known for their honesty.”
Mike is free to contact me to come on the No State Project and present his evidence; or he can call into the show and surprise me. I don’t need advance notice to prep, the evidence is already there. I wish Mike no ill will, only that if he wants to challenge what I do, that he do it honestly, openly and objectively. Base criticism on facts, not feelings and an appeal to authority.
Let me finish with this: it’s my opinion based on experience, that it’s better to investigate and know the facts. Mike apparently has such a low opinion of me he couldn’t be bothered to contact me about his concerns. It was an objective investigation for the truth that led me to being a voluntaryist; if we’re truly interested in liberty and getting to a voluntary society, then we have to look at the facts objectively, however difficult it may be to initially accept them. I hope those who follow Mike and his blog will see why it’s so important to research and verify the facts for themselves, hell, just pick up the phone a talk to people for a few minutes. All this could have been avoided.