No man is an island…

In Texas, a man named Douglas Leguin is accused of shooting at first responders as they responded to a dumpster fire. When arrested, he claimed to have seceded from the U.S. and to have established a one-man nation called “Dougiestan.” Apparently this will be his defense to the crime. Will it work?

Let’s get some things straight. First, the issue of whether Dougiestan is a legal entity is not the same as states trying to secede from the United States. Second, Dougiestan isn’t the same thing as the “sovereign citizen” movement, because Doug is claiming to have established his own country, population 1.

So can he do this?

No. Although it’s an inventive way to try to escape prosecution, it’s not going to work for several legal and practical reasons.

Dougiestan hasn’t been recognized by the United States Government, the U.N., the E.U., or any state government for that matter. Doug could ask the U.S. Government to recognize his new country, but that seems unlikely given the ad hoc way the U.S. goes about the process. Also, without a formal government structure or territory, Dougiestan doesn’t have very much pull.

Even if Dougiestan existed, its citizen could still be arrested and prosecuted for crimes done on U.S. soil. Since it’s not a recognized country, Dougiestan’s president/dictator/supreme leader or ambassador would not have any type of diplomatic immunity. The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations established what we think of as diplomatic immunity, and Dougiestan is not a party to that treaty. Also, without recognized territory, Doug cannot retreat to Dougiestan where (we can only presume) there is no extradition back to the U.S. This also means that Doug couldn’t be deported back to Dougiestan if he is convicted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

So while it’s an inventive strategy for trying to avoid prosecution, Dougiestan will likely exist only in the Texas penal system. I guess no man is an island. Or a country.

OddEric Readinger