- Sheriff Dave Mattis of Big Horn County,
Wyoming, said this week that as a result of Case #96-CV099-J, U.S. District
Court, District of Wyoming, he how has a written policy that forbids federal
officials from entering his county and exercising authority over county
residents unless he is notified first of their intentions.
- After explaining their mission, Mattis
said he grants them permission to proceed if he is convinced they are operating
within the legal parameters and authority limitations set forth in the
- The sheriff grants permission on a case-by-case
basis only. When asked what, if any, repercussions he had gotten from the
Feds, he quickly and confidently replied, "None whatsoever."
He explained by saying, "They know they do not have jurisdiction in
my county unless I grant it to them."
- Mattis clarified his position by saying
the federal court had ruled then state of Wyoming is a sovereign state
and the state constitution plainly states that a county sheriff is the
top law enforcement official in the county.
- Additionally, Sheriff Mattis contends
that the U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 8, clearly defines the geographic
territories where the federal government has jurisdiction. Amendment X,
he said, states that "the powers not delegated to the United States
by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to
the States respectively, or to the people."
- Therefore, Mattis thoroughly believes
the Feds have very limited powers in any state unless the local high-sheriff
allows them to exercise power beyond that which the Constitution provides.
- "Put another way," Mattis said,
"if the sheriff doesn't want the Feds in his county, he has the constitutional
power and right to keep them out or ask them to leave."
- Accompanied with other legal interpretations
Mattis stands on the definition of the world "sovereign," which
is defined by Webster's as "paramount, supreme. Having supreme rank
or power. Independent: a sovereign State."
- Mattis said he grew weary of the Feds
coming into his county and running rough-shod over county residents: i.e.,
illegally searching, seizing property, confiscating bank accounts, restricting
the free use of private lands and other abuses, without a valid warrant
and without first following due process of law as guaranteed by the Constitution
to every citizen.
- As long as Mattis remains sheriff he
says he will continue to see to it that the citizens of his county get
their day in court.
- Mattis went on to say that, to his knowledge,
even the IRS has not attempted to seize any citizen's real property, bank
account or any other private-owned possessions since he ran the Feds out
of his county.
- Sheriff Mattis emphasized that he is
not a radical man. He said he is only dedicated to protecting the constitutional
rights of the citizens of his county.
- He added that ordinary citizens are not
the only ones bound by and expected to obey laws. Elected officials and
government employees at all levels of government are also bound by and
should be expected to obey certain laws.
- As long as Sheriff Mattis is the high-sheriff
of Big Horn County, he seems determined to make sure private citizens and
government officials alike act within the law and their designated powers.
- Sheriff Mattis came across as a soft-spoken,
polite man whose only interest is protecting the citizens he was elected
to serve. That being the case, he might be the sheriff for as long as he
wants to be.
- Sheriff Mattis is hopeful that other
sheriffs will assume the same stance.