Nondescript office is home to ‘highest court on earth’


Ed Kemmick/Last Best News

Ted Shinneman, left, and Cecil DeLabio preside over their Tacit Supreme In Law Court in the basement of an office building on Central Avenue.

Walking into two small rooms in the basement of an office building on the 700 block of Central Avenue in Billings, you’d never guess they house “the highest court in the land, on the earth.”

That’s how Cecil DeLabio described The Tacit Supreme In Law Court, of which he is The Chief Justice. He shares the office space with Ted Shinneman, who is the court’s Senior Chief Justice.

The two men were associated with the Freemen who staged their infamous standoff with law enforcement authorities near Jordan in 1996, and also with members of the “Freeman-on-the-Land” movement in Canada.

Their primary activity consists of sending letters, which they call “greetings,” to governmental officials and other authority figures around the world, informing them of the great power of The Tacit Supreme In Law Court. Recipients of the “greetings,” they say, include President Obama, the pope, the queen of England and officials in virtually every agency of the Canadian government.

They also teach people how to set up embassies, which then makes them, as ministers of Christ, free to travel anywhere in the world without a passport and not subject to the authority of usual courts or even, apparently, of law enforcement agencies.

But they also say they do not promote violence or rebellion, and that far from being opposed to government, they are protecting it by making sure its functionaries do not violate any laws.

DeLabio and Shinneman established The Tacit Supreme In Law Court in 1976 and have lived in Montana off and on since 1982. They used to operate out of their homes, Shinneman said, but they have been in the office building at 711 Central Ave. for more than a year.

Whatever activities they may have been engaged in over the years, they have not done anything to come to the attention of local law enforcement. Billings Police Chief Rich St. John and Yellowstone County Sheriff Mike Linder said they hadn’t heard of DeLabio or Shinneman, or of their court.

Melissa Hornbein, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Montana, said that office was also unaware of the organization’s existence.

Kristi Boelter, clerk of the Yellowstone County District Court, thought at first that she hadn’t heard of The Tacit Supreme In Law Court, either. But then she remembered several documents bearing that name, and after a little digging she found them.

They were sent to her office in July 2014 by Larry Zachow of Edmonton, Alberta. He faxed Boelter four documents “served” on him by The Tacit Supreme In Law Court: a “probate citation summons”; a cease and desist order; a default judgment; and a “petition for court order to produce will.”

The documents all have to do with a Canadian group called The Stewards North Watchmen People’s Embassy and they order Zachow not to take any action against the group.

Here is a representative paragraph from one of the documents:

“Pursuant to the existing territorial law and in the spirit of The Probate Court so as to give conformity to the existing territorial law, the Petitioner hereby serves this petition on the Respondent and requests The Tacit Supreme In Law Court to issue a summons order requiring him to produce any Will of which he may be in possession of concerning The Estates Of The Decedents Of North Watchmen People’s Embassy, whom live within the territory called CANADA and whom have alleged to The Tacit Supreme In Law Court that Larry Edgar Zachow, aka LARRY EDGAR ZACHOW including ALL NAMED TITLES, by his behavior has acted as if he possesses a Will purporting to be of The People and as having jurisdiction over The Decedents Of North Watchmen People’s Embassy.”

‘Greetings’ to a lord

To read the full text of a “Greetings” sent to a member of the House of Lords in England from The Tacit Supreme In Law Court, click here.

For good measure, copies of all the documents were sent to the director of the United Nations legal department, the International Court of Justice at The Hague and to various Canadian officials.

One of the documents informs Zachow that “A letter or phone call will not protect you. Your evidence and typewritten response must be in proper LEGAL form” and sent to “the COURT named below.”

And that court was the 13th Judicial District Court in Yellowstone County. Boelter said she and her staff were flabbergasted by the packet of papers.

“We didn’t know what to do with it,” she said. “It’s utterly ridiculous, is what it is.”

In a cover letter to Boelter, Zachow said he also intended to take the matter to the local police. Boelter couldn’t recall what happened after that, but Zachow, in a telephone interview, said Boelter told him her office took the matter seriously and would investigate. But nothing more came of it, Zachow said, and he received no more threatening letters or documents. He also said he never reported the matter to the police.

Zachow said he got involved with DeLabio and Shinneman because he was interested in establishing his own embassy and granting himself passports.

“I actually got involved with them and then I got out of it because I realized it was a fraud,” he said. “They couldn’t do anything they said they could do.”

Asked why he wanted to start his own embassy, Zachow replied, “The system is corrupt, most of the press is controlled. There’s no truth in anything anymore. The courts are corrupt. That’s provable.”


Ed Kemmick/Last Best News

DeLabio wears this patch on his vest and a hat. It reads: “Armed and ready. Defended by faith. Shielded by truth.”

But DeLabio and Shinneman “are more corrupt,” he said, “because they take advantage of people in stressful situations. … They’re still deceiving people here and they’ve got no power and authority granted by anybody.”

Zachow said he learned about The Tacit Supreme In Law Court when DeLabio and Shinneman went to Canada a few years ago to talk about their court and how it could help people. Another person who attended at least one of their gatherings in Alberta later got into trouble after he created his own “embassy.”

Mario Antonacci, also known as Andreas Pirelli, was evicted from an apartment in Calgary in 2012 but refused to move after declaring that the apartment was his “sovereign embassy.” The dispute dragged on for more than a year and ended when Antonacci, identified as a member of the Freeman-on-the-Land movement, was arrested by Calgary police on outstanding warrants out of Quebec.

Shinneman said he remembered Antonacci—who “seemed to have a lot of polarity in his personality”—as an attendee at one of their seminars in Canada. Eventually, he said, Antonacci “went rogue” and he and DeLabio wanted nothing to do with him.

About the time Antonacci was in the news, Canadian newspapers ran numerous accounts of the activities of the Freeman group, and about the “sovereign citizen” or “Natural Persons” movement.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police issued statements saying they were watching the groups and training their officers to deal with them appropriately.

A spokesman for the RCMP in Alberta told Last Best News that privacy laws prevented him from saying whether the agency had ever had any dealings with DeLabio or Shinneman. A spokesman for the Calgary Police Service, who said he’d look into whether the service had any knowledge of the pair, had not responded by the time this article was being written.

Meanwhile, DeLabio and Shinneman continue to work out of their office on Central Avenue, and they say they are thinking of moving into a larger space in the building.

One case they are pursuing in their court, they say, is an action against a drug company called Alcon Lab and its apparent affiliates, Rite Aid Corp. and Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. They said a client of theirs was blinded by an Alcon Lab drug, and in a weekly newspaper in Fort Worth, Texas, they published legal notices saying Rite Aid and Novartis have defaulted on $1.4 billion judgments granted by their court.

What exactly is their court? Shinneman explained that it is called a “tacit” court because Black’s Law Dictionary, fourth edition, defines “tacit law” as “A law which derives its authority from the common consent of the people without any legislative enactment.”

That’s why their court has authority that supersedes that of other courts, DeLabio and Shinneman said. They also said theirs is “a court of trespass” that deals with instances of harm to people and property, and they assert that bringing people under the jurisdiction of their court makes them no longer subject to the jurisdiction of other courts.

And though their court documents are full of citations from the Bible and they say their authority is derived from Jesus Christ, DeLabio said, “We’re not religion. We’re spiritual. There’s a difference. God created the earth. Man created the world.”

They are also very particular about the meaning of certain words, even words others would consider quite common.

They say that lawyers cannot practice law; they can only practice “legal.” They say a birth certificate means you are a “dead entity” subject to the jurisdiction of regular courts, while a certificate of live birth puts you outside the jurisdiction of those courts.

And those regular courts? They are “corporation courts,” DeLabio said, and when you appear in them “you are treated as a corporation. We treat you as a flesh-and-blood man.”

They say there is a big difference between a U.S. embassy and an American embassy, which explains why the sign outside their office building says, under the name of their court, “American Embassy.”

They also describe themselves as “federal recovery agents.” They are not bounty hunters, DeLabio said, simply agents who “go out after bad guys, and sometimes the bad guys are in robes and uniforms—you know, the cops.”

Their main activity as federal agents is to serve “greetings” on government officials, elected and appointed, asserting that people represented by The Tacit Supreme In Law Court “have the right to be self-governed, under our own accord.”

DeLabio said 67 government officials in Canada resigned from their positions in the past year, after receiving these “greetings,” as did the mayor of Edmonton. However, Melissa Lovatt, a spokeswoman for the city of Edmonton, said Mayor Don Iverson is two years into his first term as mayor, and “I can assure you that he has not resigned.”

DeLabio also said that Prime Minister Stephen Harper, reacting to the mass resignations, has postponed this fall’s national elections. If so, that has not been reported by the Canadian press, and all indications are that Oct. 19 is still Election Day in Canada this year.

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