Given the uproar over Republican state supreme court endorsee Michelle McDonald's pending DUI trial, eccentric views on court reform, and the subsequent flight of party and endorsed Attorney General candidate Scott Newman and Jeff Johnson from her side, Bluestem was curious why Dan Severson had been so quiet.
After all, Severson at one time had been a champion of the faction of the Republican Party which inveighed against perceived corruption in the state's courts, especially family courts. In 2009, Severson convened an ad hoc committee hearing on judicial corruption and later introduced legislation directed at the perceived problem.
Perennial candidate Sharon Anderson has preserved the press release and Dear Colleague letter he sent announcing the hearing:
Although Severson's focus began to shift from perceptions of judicial corruption to election corruption, he still maintained his contacts in this segment of the Republican base in this video from 2011:
One can even see the cowboy hat of McDonald sponsor Bonn Clayton in that video.
However, nothing compares to the nearly 41 minute interview with documentary filmmaker Bill Windsor for his epic film, Lawless America, that was uploaded in 2013:
In the video, Severson shares a view of family court very similar to that espoused by McDonald. He also noodles the idea that the United States is a police state because we call law enforcement "the police," inveighs against no-fault divorce and of course, declares Minnesota's election system to be the absolute worst in the country.
Nor does he have kind words for current secretary of state Mark Ritchie, who is retiring at the end of this year.
Severson is running for the open seat, along with DFL-endorsed candidate Steve Simon,IP endorsee Bob Helland and Libertarian Party candidate Bob Odden, according to the filings at the OSS office.
We'll update this post with transciptions of some of the more interesting segments of the interview, as well as more about Bill Windsor's Lawless America.
On judicial abuse (4:15): I think that the issue for me as a legislator was to ensure that the balance of powers that our Founding Fathers had put together were realized, that they enacted, that they were protected. And right now I believe very strongly that the judiciary has moved far beyond the confines of our constitution, are legislating from the bench, and we have people who are given to power.
One of the other problems that we have in the legislature as well is that we have a lot of lawyers who get into the legislature for the sole purpose of being visible enough to get elected to the bench or to be appointed to the bench. And then they been worked hard with the Quie Commission Report and the rest to try to suitcase their ability to stay on the bench once they get there so they don't things like the . . . .statute that basically says they can;t have their past rulings recorded, that was struck down in the courts, I think it was . . .the Republican Party v. White, that was struck down, so the bottomline is that they're absolutely vulnerable in terms of how they have been ruling and that's what precipitated the Quie Commission Report and the push to go to a retention election, which would take away the ability and the power of the people to make the decision instead....
15:30: People don't pay attention until it affects them. The problem with this problem is that you don't know when it's going to affect you or how it's going to affect you.
And once you get scooped up into the system, and it begins to work against you, you have no recourse. You can completely lose your God-given and natural rights as a United States citizen, as an American citizen that's subject to the confines of the guy that's sitting on the bench.
And so I think it is probably better to be pro-active instead of reactive in this particular situation. we can take back our judiciary. we can take back that branch of government but we have to hold the bench accountable and we do that through the election process.
We have to take away all of the protections that the judicial branch has put up to keep them incumbent, to keep those powers on the bench. We need to diversify those powers. The attorneys' licensure should never be held by the courts, they should be held independently, and the court should be able to be as close to the people as possible. That's what our founders really intended. . . .
On the police in America (17:25):
Windsor: People just don't have a clue. We don't have constitutional rights here anymore. The judge just does whatever he wants, law enforcement does whatever they want.
Severson: Yep and I think a good example of that, Bill, you know, is when our founders put together the whole concept of the peaceable community and our law enforcers were called peace officers. And now they're police.
And what do you relate police to? Police is a police state.
Something that orchestrates the behavior of the people because they have to adhere to a certain conduct. And that was never the intent. The intent was to keep peace in the community, to be kind of like the Mayberry where you don't carry around a gun, you just try through a relationship, try and make sure everybody is living within their own rights and are not becoming onerous to the community. [Editor's note: guns in the Andy Griffith Show via the Internet Movie Firearms Database].
And it's unfortunately that with power comes--power corrupts absolutely, And so we've kind of come to a police state as well. And many of the llargers areas where the police have taken, probably for self-preservation means, more authority than they should be but they, it creates fear in the community because sometimes those people who are hungry for power abuse that power and it gives the police a bad name.
I'd prefer to see them go back to peacekeepers, you know.
Family law (19:24): . . .in the family law, the provisions that we have now, there's so much room for abuse. It's dysfunctional, because it's not working to keep the family together, it's just working to be an arbiter, and that's not really their goal. That should not be there, they should not be put into that situation.
We have a lot of good peace officers who get stuck in a bad situation. But then again, I bring that back to the whole judicial side and the failure of that.
And for me I believe in Minnesota that is in the form of no-fault divorce. I think that has been one of the most damaging pieces of legsiation toward our family coherence, for the ability to maintain a family. It's just bad legislation and it needs to be repealed.
. . .When you get into the meatgrinder, you have no intention of getting in there, but all of a sudden--I'll tell you , when I was doorknocking as a legislator and I go around and I met with so many--particularly young men who had been through this because of the no-fault divorce, they've been, their marriages have been dissolved, and now they're being taken to the cleaners. They were behind in child support so they'd lose their drivers license and now they could get to their jobs and it's a tremendous downward spiral.
And I'll tell you honestly, both parties are bad in this process in terms of family law. Republicans have been as bad as the Democrats. And we need some real reform in how we begin to restructure and bring the family protection back into our statutes.
Minnesota elections (26:45): We ran for Secretary of State in 2010 because you know we have a corrupted voting system in Minnesota.
And we have a guy in there now who is the worst of the worst. Mark Ritchie. He is partisan and he does not serve the best interests of the people of Minnesota. He serves the best interests of the far left progressive agenda and he's just not doing the will of the people.
The Tea Party (39:09) I think there's a growing movement, though, of people who take a look at the Tea Party, people who want to be knowledgeable about what's going on in their government and so they're forearmed in this process and I think that's want this is, this is part of tha process...
Bonus:The TEA PARTY / MINNESOTA JUDICIAL REFORM AND ACCOUNTABILITY RALLY featuredannounced this line up for a March 19, 2010 rally for a Severson bill:
Currently the following people will be speaking:
Representative Dan Severson = Author of HR 1632
Jack Graham - Candidate for Minnesota Attorney General
Greg Wersal - Candidate for Supreme Court Justice
Rob Hahn, IP Candidate for Governor
Tim Kinley - Christian imprisoned for using the bible to teach religion to his own children
Bob Oden - Jury Nullification
Leslie Davis - Repubiican Candidate for Governor
Bradley Dean - You can run but you can't hide
Nancy Lazaryan - Long time Judicial Reform Activist
others to be announced
While Severson soon started focusing on "election corruption," the fact of the 2013 interview demonstrates that he hasn't abandoned the cause of "judicial corruption."
Update: Although Lawless America filmmaker Bill Windsor denies it, in February 2013, he allegedly issued an open letter to members of congress stating that he intended to call citizens' grand juries to try elected officials for treason.
Images: Dan Severson in the Lawless America interview (above): Andy fires Warren's revolver at fleeing suspects in "Aunt Bee Takes a Job" (episode 6.13) via the Internet Movie Firearms Database. While the Andy Taylor character did not carry a gun, his deputies did. Barney Fife's lack of skills was a running gag in the show (below).
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