I’ve been away for a few days, but imagine my surprise at reading this
in Wednesday’s Pensacola News Journal:
The prosecution has rested its case in the trial of Pensacola evangelist and tax protestor Kent Hovind and his wife, Jo.
The defense will not present a case.
And then today’s article:
Defense lawyers for Kent and Jo Hovind rested their case on Wednesday without presenting evidence or calling witnesses.
If found guilty, Kent Hovind faces a maximum of 288 years in prison, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Heldmyer.
His wife, Jo Hovind, faces up to 225 years.
After Wednesday’s session, [Hovind’s attorney] Richey said there was no need for a defense.
“I don’t believe the government met its burden,” Richey said. “The government has to prove that (Kent Hovind) knew he had a duty under the law to pay those taxes.”
Kent Hovind also has said that he is not a citizen of the United States nor a resident of Florida and therefore not subject to taxation.
I should point out that Richey, Kent Hovind’s lawyer, is not a court-appointed defender: the Hovinds used public defense at first, but then hired their own lawyers.
When I read what Richey said about the government not having met its burden, I first thought that what he wanted was some insanely-detailed sequence of legal and logical steps from A to B, where A is “Hovind has income” and B is “Hovind is subject to income tax” (isn’t it funny how creationists will make huge leaps of logic when it suits them, but when it comes to things they don’t like, they demand unreasonable proof, like an unbroken chain of fossils from every generation leading from fish to amphibians, with a notarized pedigree for each one? We saw this in Michael Behe’s testimony at the Dover Panda trial). But what Hovind’s lawyer actually said is more restricted and more desperate: “The government has to prove that (Kent Hovind) knew he had a duty under the law to pay those taxes” (emphasis added).
In other words, Richey has conceded that Hovind owed taxes and is only arguing that Hovind didn’t know that he owed taxes. Since, as they say, ignorance of the law is no excuse, and since it’s been established that Hovind made a hobby of suing the IRS, I can’t see how this can possibly fly.
There’s a saying that “any lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client”. I think it’s time to add, “any lawyer who represents Kent Hovind has a fool for a client”.
As for Kent’s wife Jo, one could easily argue that she was not trying to evade banks’ cash transaction reporting requirements, that their weekly expenses just happened to come to $9500. The PNJ has sidebar that pretty much shoots that down:
The banks filed the [currency transaction] reports on days when Jo Hovind would make two trips to the bank — one before and another after 2 p.m., which signals the end of the bank’s business day. For example, on Dec. 20, 1999, she cashed a check from the Creation Science Evangelism account for $7,500 at 1:15 p.m. She returned at 2:50 p.m. to cash another check from the same account for $7,500.
So… what? She got $7,500 from the bank, went home, and realized an hour later that she actually needed $15,000, then went back to withdraw the rest? Sorry, but I’m not buying it. And neither, I bet, will the jury.
Finally, there’s the question of the 288 years that Hovind could spend in prison. Obviously that’s a maximum based on 5 years per offense, and I don’t think there’s any chance Hovind will get anywhere close to that. To begin with, any number of charges could be thrown out, and of the remaining ones I doubt will net him the legal maximum (though I know nothing about sentencing guidelines. IANAL. ICBW.)
If the jury reaches a guilty verdict, the Hovinds may choose to appeal. But I suspect the appeals court will likely reject the appeal with whatever the Latin phrase is for “Dude! You never even bothered defending yourself!”
And if the Hovinds head off to an all-expenses paid stay at Club Fed, CSE probably still won’t shut down: Kent and Jo’s son Eric already does a lot of the traveling and lecturing, so presumably he’ll keep the family
business ministry going for a while.