In a series of events most would normally dismiss as outlandish, one American citizen was launched from civil court into a legal limbo where for years he was deprived by a federal judge of counsel, property, speech and travel. The case seems unthinkable in the American judicial system, but the story is true, and it happened to one Jeff Baron.
Jeff Baron is a Dallas resident and U.S. citizen who was put into “virtual slavery” by U.S. District Court Judge Royal Furgeson after Baron settled an otherwise ordinary contract dispute in his court. Although Baron was never accused of any crime and had just resolved the dispute in Furgeson’s court, Furgeson seized the sum total of Baron’s personal property and possessions, including his home and car, and suspended nearly all of his civil rights, including his right to be represented by counsel, right to own property, right to earn income, and right to travel. Four years later, Baron was still in civil lockdown – even after the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the unlawful rulings and enjoined any further liquidation of Baron’s property.
Immediately preceding Baron’s civil lockdown is the November 2013 auction and sale of 153,000 internet domain names owned by Baron’s company, Ondova, LLC. The domain names were auctioned to Trans, Ltd. for $5.2 million, reports the Dallas Observer, and can be traced back to Judge Furgeson. The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Judge Furgeson’s court “overstepped its authority,” and the Observer notes that Furgeson’s “decision enabled a federal bankruptcy judge to order the November auction.”
More than just an illegal transfer of domain names occurred in the lead-up to the unprecedented actions against Baron. Critics of Baron, including Judge Furgeson, allege that he was “hiring and firing” an endless parade of highly qualified lawyers, delaying justice and actually harming his own case, while Baron supporters cite widespread corruption. Baron also took Ondova into bankruptcy in 2009, immediately preceding a hearing to determine whether he was in contempt of court, according to the Dallas Observer.
“I’ve never seen anything like it in almost 25 years practicing law,” California attorney Conrad Herring told The Daily Caller News Foundation.Herring got involved when he encountered the same court officers in a routine bankruptcy case, recounting that not only did they, “make up the facts against my client, they named me as a defendant as well, claiming I had breached a contract to which I was not even party.”
Forcing a lawyer to stand trial in his own case is illegal.
“Their unlawful strategy was to get rid of the lawyer so they could get to my unprotected client and his money,” Herring charges. “The very same people who abused the court system against my client were doing the same thing to Jeff, only on a much grander scale,” said Herring, explaining his interest in the case.
Court documents related to the case corroborate Herring and Baron’s statement.
Jeff Baron is an internet pioneer and the former owner of a Ondova, a technology company during the early days of the public web. Baron earmarked nearly all of his vast wealth, which was $100 million at its height, to finding a cure for juvenile (type 1) diabetes– a disease afflicting Baron since childhood.
The trouble began when Ondova entered a joint venture with Munish Krishan, a man who Baron alleges embezzled $8 million, prompting Baron to sue for damages. After this, Krishan sued Baron six times, attempting to take the rest of the company’s assets. Krishan lost all six times.
When Kirshan sued a seventh time, the case came to Judge Furgeson’s court and Krishan won, forcing Baron to settle the case. Furgeson inexplicably put Baron into “receivership” (an extreme legal remedy imposed on property, not humans), along with his companies and all of his possessions, having his rights to mobility, free speech, ownership of property, and right to legal representation totally eliminated.
According to a January 2015 report at Texas Insider, this is the first reported case of a human being placed in a receivership since the abolition of slavery in 1865.
“The receiver assigned to Baron’s case is Peter Vogel, an attorney who, before presiding over Baron’s company and personal assets, was a special master (adjunct judge) in Judge Furgeson’s court. Vogel’s appointment as receiver is illegal, according to 28 U.S.C. 958, which mandates that a person employed by any judge of the United States may not at the same time be appointed a receiver,” reports Texas Insider.
Court transcripts obtained by TheDCNF reveal that Judge Furgeson, a Bill Clinton appointee, openly admitted during court proceedings that his goal was to destroy Baron financially and personally.
“Apparently, there is a lot of money to be had here,” stated Furgeson. “You want to challenge the court order, I have the marshals behind me. I can come to your house, pick you up, put you in jail. I can seize your property, do anything I need to do to enforce my orders.”
“This [proceeding] is going on and on and on until Mr. Baron has nothing. I mean actually everything is depleted. I gather that Mr. Baron is worth a lot of money. But it may be that we sell all the domain names. We may sell all of his stock. We may cash in all of his CDs, and we may seize all of his bank accounts,” continued Furgeson.
Furgeson did just that, also taking control of and liquidating the juvenile diabetes research trust that Baron created. Furgeson even threatened Baron’s very life if he attempted to resist the illegal actions of the court.
“You are a fool, a fool, a fool, a fool to screw with a federal judge, and if you don’t understand that, I can make you understand it … I have the full force of the Navy, Army, Marines and Navy behind me,” Furgeson thundered. “So any failure to comply with that order is contempt, punishable with lots of dollars, punishable by possible jail, death.”
In America, the Constitution guarantees citizens the right to due process and a speedy public trial. Baron did not have his day in court guaranteed by the Constitution. In fact, the court order putting Baron into receivership was done “ex parte” in a private meeting between Baron’s adversaries and the judge, without any notice or hearing– an egregious violation of Baron’s constitutional rights. Daniel Sherman, the attorney who requested the receivership, admitted under oath that he met “ex parte” with Judge Furgeson for the purpose of putting Baron in a receivership.
“They did it without any due process; no right to a hearing; no right to object before the receivership order was signed; not even the right to notice of the order until after a federal district court judge signed it,” stated Herring. “That happens in other countries, not the United States.”
On the legality of the receivership, Herring is adamant. “It was all illegal of course, as the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled two years later, after the damage was done. Jeff was worth millions of dollars before the illegal receivership was imposed on him. The criminals, for that is what they are, wanted his money and saw a way to take it using their fiduciary positions and a judicial system they helped corrupt.”
Herring explains, “The system is obviously broken. Two federal judges looked the other way for years and often times rewarded the corrupt behavior. Perhaps the judges were unwitting participants, but they were in charge.” Herring says that what happened to Baron “can happen to anyone.”
Furgeson now collects two federal pensions: One from the University of North Texas, where he now serves as the dean of law, and his lifetime pension from serving on the bench, at $175,000 a year for federal judges.
New Developments – Tax Insanity, Court-Ordered Destruction of Documents, and Immunity
Since the reversal of Furgeson’s “receivership” order and related subsequent orders, immunity was granted to all the attorneys and other parties for their illegal actions against Baron. No one will go to jail.
Herring faults “trickle-down lawlessness,” owing to an accountability vacuum created by political leadership, for the absence of any real consequences for bad actors. “It comes from the top– down lawlessness by the people appointed at the highest level to enforce the law,” said Herring. “Judges and attorneys are able to see just how far they can go in violating the rights of a citizen, in this case Jeffrey Baron, a talented entrepreneur with a successful product,” Herring said.
In spite of the Fifth Circuit’s reversal of Furgeson’s ruling, millions of dollars are still missing, which begs the question, where did the money go? We may never know, because the courts have sealed, and possibly destroyed, the relevant documents.
Baron’s documents, which may reveal the location of his assets, are permanently sequestered by the court (Order Denying Baron’s Motion to View Sealed Documents issued Sept. 23, 2015). The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals also rejected appeals for Baron to see the documents.
The court also ordered the destruction of many of the sealed records belonging to Baron in August 2015 (Munish Krishan, et al. v. Jeff Baron, et al. U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, case #09-CV-0988). The official court entry on Aug. 31, 2015 states: “Appeal Record Returned consisting of 22 boxes containing the sealed records on appeal and 3 folders of exhibits. Sealed electronic record destroyed. Exhibits to be retained until all appeals are adjudicated.”
Destruction of evidence is a criminal offense. And so is tax evasion.
Baron is being required to pay the taxes on the millions stolen from him (Munish Krishan, et al. v. Jeff Baron, et al. U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, case #09-CV-0988). To clarify, Baron is paying taxes on money that was taken by attorneys in income, and has not been returned. Attorneys not only stole money, but are not having to pay taxes on it. There is no basis in tax law for requiring an individual citizen pay someone else’s taxes.
Some big names in politics took notice of the Dallas case, and spoke up.
In two separate interviews, former House Majority Leader Tom Delay called the court’s actions (past and present), “totally unconstitutional” and demanded the judge’s impeachment.
Said Delay in a Jan. 19, 2015 interview with Texas Insider, “I’m not a lawyer, but with this case … I would introduce a resolution of impeachment of Judge Furgeson. He has completely violated the law and the Constitution. Again, I am not a lawyer, but it is obvious to me as a student of the Constitution that these rulings are totally unconstitutional; they violate the 1st, 4th, 5th, and 6th Amendments, and therefore, if this judge were still on the bench, he ought to be impeached.”
In a followup video interview, DeLay said the corruption on the court is “pervasive. And it’s pervasive throughout our system because the other two branches of government are not standing up and exerting their authority under the Constitution against the judiciary.”
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