We don't normally follow criminal cases, but People v. Johnson-El, a published Michigan Court of Appeals opinion, caught our attention. In this case, Johnson-El is a member of the Washitaw Nation. The Washitaw Moors, a group that asserts that they are a sovereign nation within the United States, apparently believe that all land in this country outside of the 13 colonies and Texas belongs to its members. Johnson-El wandered around Detroit and recorded Affidavits of Allodial Title on properties he thought looked abandoned or in foreclosure.
Johnson-El recorded an "Affidavit of Allodial Title" with the Wayne County Register of Deeds claiming an interest in real property located at 14503 Faust in Detroit. The Affidavit stated that he owned the property, that its value was secured by a $100 billion bond, and that he was a secured party. He claims allodial title because he is a ‘Washitaw Moor,’ as indicated in his tribe-endorsed birth certificate provided to the circuit court.
The Faust property was in foreclosure when Johnson-El filed the affidavit. This prevented the real property owner from redeeming the property buy selling it to a third party and then using the proceeds to pay off his debt.
Johnson-El admitted at trial that he never purchased the property or took ownership through an interest transferred by a previous owner or security-interest holder. Rather, he sad that he drove past the property, saw that the windows were boarded up and the door padlocked, and then decided to simply take the property as his own by authoring and recording the Affidavit. His own witness even testified that Moors customarily seek out properties upon which creditors have foreclosed as targets to assert allodial title. Johnson-El had followed this scheme by filing similar affidavits for several properties in Wayne County; the court surmised that he was fortunate none of the other property owners impacted by his actions complained to law enforcement officials.
Because the prosecutor (and Johnson-El himself) provided enough information to sustain the conviction, the Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed.
If you have a cloud on your title or need help with a real property issue, contact one of our attorneys at the Gallagher Law Firm.