'Paper terrorism' trial against Freeman on the Land collapses as charges stayed

A self-proclaimed Freeman on the Land accused of trying to intimidate a peace officer who issued him a speeding ticket had his charges stayed Monday on the first day of his trial, after the judge raised concerns.

Crown stays charges against Alberta Freeman after concerns raised by judge

Allen Boisjoli doing an interview outside court Monday with one Edmonton media outlet. (Janice Johnston/CBC News )

Allen Boisjoli had been waiting more than two years for his day in court, but halfway through the first day of his trial the charges against him were stayed.

Before any evidence had been heard on Monday, Court of Queen's Bench Justice Sterling Sanderman raised concerns about the charges.

Boisjoli, a self-proclaimed Freeman on the Land, was accused of launching a campaign of "paper terrorism" against a peace officer who wrote him a speeding ticket.

In the fall of 2015, he allegedly "engaged in conduct with the intent to provoke a state of fear in a justice system participant," according to the charges filed with the court.

The Crown alleged Boisjoli's target was Mitchell Knudson, and the intention was to stop Knudson from doing his job. Boisjoli tried unsuccessfully to file paperwork to place a $225,000 lien against the officer's personal property, holding him liable for his detainment.

In October 2015, associate chief Justice John Rooke declared Boisjoli a vexatious litigant and banned him from making any future court filings without a lawyer.

On Monday, Sanderman referred to Rooke's decision and asked the prosecutor to explain the evidence that led to the charges.

Prosecutor Photini Papadatou began to outline her case. But the judge soon stopped her.

"It seems like you're going after a mosquito with a bazooka," Sanderman said. "But it's your call."

After a lunch break, Papadatou told the judge she had considered his comments and had discussed them with her executive director.

"Having taken your comments to heart, we have concluded we will be staying the charges against Mr. Boisjoli," she said.

'... a gift horse in the mouth'

Boisjoli did not seem to understand at first that the trial would not go ahead. He stood to raise objections.

"You shouldn't be looking a gift horse in the mouth," Sanderman told him. "That's all I'm going to say. What you should be doing is thanking Ms. Papadatou. She has conducted herself with honour. She was placed in a very, very difficult position here. She has done everything in her power to ensure you've had a fair hearing and a fair trial."

After the judge left the courtroom, Boisjoli thanked the Crown "for being honourable."

Papadatou declined comment outside court.

Accused challenged jurisdiction of the court

On Monday morning, Boisjoli was fifteen minutes late for the start of his own trial.

At 10:15 a.m., he strode into the courtroom, humming a tune. He placed his briefcase on the floor beside him, his purple water bottle on the desk and declared, "Good morning everyone!"

Before any evidence could be heard, Boisjoli launched a legal argument, challenging the jurisdiction of the court to even hear the case.

"To me it just seems ludicrous," Boisjoli told Sanderman. "Nowhere does it say the [criminal] codes apply to everyone within the fictional borders you've just created.

"Nothing that you are doing here is relevant unless there's jurisdiction."

Sanderman retired for 15 minutes to deliberate, then returned with a decision.

He called Boisjoli's arguments "gibberish" and "nonsense" and said they had "as much value as Monopoly money would have in chartered banks in this country."

He said the court had jurisdiction to hear the trial and would do so. Hours later, the charges were stayed.

Outside court, Boisjoli agreed to a media interview with a local television reporter. But he refused to speak to CBC News, saying he disagreed with a story written about him three years ago.

About the Author

Janice Johnston is an award-winning journalist in Edmonton who has covered the courts and crime for more than two decades. You can reach her at janice.johnston@cbc.ca or on Twitter at @cbcjanjohnston