December 28, 1996 in City

Freeman Still Defiant After Arrest Tells Newspaper He’s Not Ready To Cooperate With Government

Associated Press
 

A jailed freeman from North Carolina has told his hometown newspaper that he is not ready to submit to the U.S. government’s jurisdiction.

In a seven-page letter to The Charlotte Observer, Steve Hance said his legal difficulties aren’t enough to force him to cooperate.

“Since my family is very close, our separation is more painful than most people can imagine,” Hance wrote. “I missed celebrating our wedding anniversary with my wife for the first time in 26 years. …

“So, my day to day life will no doubt contain some measure of anguish for many years regardless of how long it takes to obtain justice.”

Hance and his two adult sons, all of Charlotte, sit in their Montana jail cell biding their time. Hance tosses aside federal indictments. He calls them fraudulent.

Six months after Hance and his sons were arrested along with the other holdouts at the freeman compound in Montana, they remain defiant.

Hance still says this government has no authority over him. He and his sons refuse to be fingerprinted or to talk to court-appointed lawyers.

The three Hances face federal charges growing out of the standoff that ended June 13 with the peaceful surrender and arrest of 16 men and women. The charges against the Hances carry multiple-year prison terms.

The freemen spend their days talking to one another through cell doors, studying law books and writing legal-like papers.

Two weeks ago, a federal judge approved an order to take fingerprints from the freemen. The order says the FBI, U.S. marshal and jailers can use “reasonable force” to take the prints.

At an arraignment in Billings two weeks ago, Hance threw aside a copy of his indictment. “No, it’s refused for fraud,” said Hance, 47, wearing the same jeans and blue shirt he was arrested in. “This entire thing is a fraud.”

He even disputed his name as it appeared in the document. “I am not that person,” he said. He spelled his name as “Steven Charles, Hance.”

The next day, John Hance and James Hance, chained at the ankles, appeared before the same U.S. magistrate.

“I object to your advising me of anything,” John Hance told a magistrate.

The magistrate eventually threw John Hance out of the courtroom for his outbursts. In June, Steve Hance was tossed out when he threatened the same magistrate by telling him, “You’re going down, son.”

The Hances and most of the other Montana freemen have spurned their court-appointed lawyers.

Joe Massman, Steve Hance’s lawyer, says it is frustrating.

“It’s been peculiar going about how to help Steven Hance,” he said. “He believes he’s right and he’s a patriot. He seems to be really locked into this.”

Violet Hance, who lives in Texas, says her son and grandsons show no sign of changing their minds.

“They’re not going to do that,” she said. “They don’t believe it’s the way to reach the goal they want to reach.”

She had never heard about the freeman movement until the Montana standoff began.

Still, she believes her son is fighting for all Americans.

“All I pray is that it works out according to God’s will,” Violet Hance said. She said they’re steadfast in their beliefs. “They’re fighting for a restoration of our constitutional rights.”

The freeman trials are expected to begin sometime next year.

© Copyright 1996 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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