One of the ringleaders in a domestic “paper terrorism” case that affected dozens of sheriffs, judges, county officials and other law enforcement along the Front Range was sentenced to 38 years in prison Tuesday.
Bruce Doucette considers himself a “sovereign citizen” -- he essentially doesn’t believe local laws or code enforcements apply to him because they are not specifically mentioned in the U.S. constitution.
In 2015 and 2016, Doucette gave himself the title “Superior Court Judge” and he and several others traveled around the state instructing local people how to set up “common law court” operations. He was a leader in drafting fake warrants for various elected officials’ arrests, phony subpoenas, and other paperwork he would “serve” on the various public offices -- usually signed in red ink or with a bloody fingerprint.
Doucette in March was convicted of 34 felony counts of racketeering, attempting to influence public servants, filing false legal documents, tax evasion and retaliation against judges. He was charged along with seven others in the case. Doucette also gave legal advice to the Bundys ahead of their standoff with federal officials over cattle grazing on public lands.
“These people are intentionally targeting people for doing our jobs,” said Robert Shapiro, first assistant attorney general, who prosecuted the case. “His disdain for the legal system … for everyone who works in the system. This is unfortunately a case where punishment is the only factor that we are now left with.”
At the sentencing hearing in Denver District Court, Doucette fidgeted in his spinnable chair, while chained up in a green jumpsuit.
He sat alone because he has insisted on representing himself in this case. Before the hearing, the judge asked him if it was OK to proceed and he said, “I do not consent and never have.”
Before hearing his sentence, Doucette, who has been described as a religious Christian, told the judge, “As my witness, everything I did was done with honor and integrity to lawfully and peaceably remove the corruption from this government and from these courts. And may Yahweh have mercy on your souls when he judges you.”
Some of the other defendants have pleaded out or cooperated with state prosecutors.Others still face trials. In 2017, two of Doucette’s cohorts, Steven Byfield and Stephen Nalty, were sentenced to 22 and 36 years respectively.
The eight prosecutions were among the biggest cases of their kind in the nation since the 1996 prosecutions against the Montana Freemen, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Shapiro said he was heartened by the sentencing.
“We had the evidence and the laws to prosecute these people … In Colorado, if you break the law, the wrongdoers can be held accountable.”
The victims in this case were mostly public officials and Shapiro read several victim statements ahead of the sentencing. One Boulder County judge Karolyn Moore wrote, ‘because of the defendant’s actions, I continue to be fearful of my safety and the safety of my family.