PETITION FOR EXTENSION OF TIME TO FILE APPELLANT'S BRIEF;
PRO SE PETITION FOR LEAVE TO PROCEED WITH EXCEPTION TO RULE
4-7 OF THE RULES OF THE SUPREME COURT [LINCOLN COUNTY CIRCUIT
COURT, NO. 40CV-17-44]
DAN KEMP, CHIEF JUSTICE
James Edward Whitney appeals from the denial of a pro se
petition to proceed in forma pauperis and the denial of a
request to file an affidavit of sovereignty. Pending before
this court is Whitney's petition for an extension of time
to file his appellate brief. Also pending is Whitney's
subsequent pro se petition for leave to proceed with
exception to Rule 4-7 of the Rules of the Supreme Court,
wherein he alleges that the Lincoln County circuit clerk has
refused to provide him with a file-marked copy of the
proceedings below, preventing him from filing his brief in
compliance with this court's rules.
appeal from an order that denied a petition for
postconviction relief, including civil postconviction
remedies, will not be permitted to go forward when it is
clear that the appellant could not prevail. Brown v.
State, 2017 Ark. 232, 522 S.W.3d 791; Justus v.
State, 2012 Ark. 91. This court has treated civil
proceedings such as declaratory-judgment actions as
applications for postconviction relief in those instances in
which a prisoner seeks relief from the conditions of his or
her incarceration. Neely v. McCastlain, 2009 Ark.
189, 306 S.W.3d 424.
record demonstrates that Whitney filed in the circuit court a
petition to proceed in forma pauperis alleging that he was
being illegally detained, and he sought indigent status for
the purpose of filing an "affidavit of sovereignty"
declaring that he is not a citizen of the United States or
subject to its laws. Thus, Whitney's affidavit of
sovereignty sought relief from the conditions of his
incarceration; it is, therefore, treated as an application
for postconviction relief. Neely, 2009 Ark. 189, 306
S.W.3d 424. Because it is clear that Whitney cannot prevail
in his appeal from the circuit court's order denying both
his petition to proceed in forma pauperis as well as his
request to file an "affidavit of sovereignty, "
this appeal is dismissed, which renders Whitney's
petition for an extension of time to file his brief and his
petition for leave to proceed with exception to Rule 4-7
right to proceed in forma pauperis is governed by Arkansas
Rule of Civil Procedure 72 (2016). Rule 72(c) conditions the
right to proceed in forma pauperis in civil matters upon,
among other things, the court's satisfaction that the
alleged facts indicate a colorable cause of action. Penn
v. Gallagher, 2017 Ark. 283. A colorable cause of action
is a claim that is legitimate and may reasonably be asserted
given the facts presented and the current law or a reasonable
and logical extension or modification of it. Id.
in forma pauperis petition, Whitney named international and
federal officials as well as officials of Arkansas and
Michigan. Whitney sought to file, without payment of
fees, an affidavit of sovereignty that declared, among other
things, that citizenship has never been conferred on him by
either the United States government or the state governments
of Michigan and Arkansas. Whitney further asserted in his
affidavit of sovereignty that he is subject only "onto
the kingdom of YHWH." Whitney certified that the
affidavit had been mailed to the named respondents. The
purpose of the affidavit was to establish that Whitney is not
subject to federal and state laws and is therefore being
illegally detained as "[he] is neither to bend to or
conform with their ways or practices . . . [but rather]
operate[s] as a vessel, ambassador for the expression of the
government of the Kingdom of YHWH." Whitney's
affidavit declaring himself outside the reach of the laws of
this state is wholly without merit, as the State of Arkansas
has the authority to enforce its laws with regard to conduct
that occurs within its territorial borders. See State v.
Alexander, 222 Ark. 376, 259 S.W.2d 677 (1953);
Goodman v. State, 153 Ark. 560, 240 S.W. 735 (1922).
circuit court denied Whitney's in forma pauperis petition
and denied his request to file the affidavit of sovereignty,
concluding that Whitney had not stated a colorable cause of
action and, indeed, had not "presented a complaint or
other document, even if liberally interpreted, that portrays
a civil action in compliance with the Arkansas Rules of Civil
Procedure." The circuit court further concluded that
there is no statutory authority that mandates that a circuit
clerk file and maintain an affidavit declaring sovereignty
without a related civil action. Our standard of review of a
decision to grant or deny a petition to proceed in forma
pauperis is abuse of discretion, and the circuit court's
factual findings in support of its exercise of discretion
will not be reversed unless clearly erroneous. Penn,
2017 Ark. 283. Likewise, this court does not reverse a denial
of postconviction relief unless the circuit court's
findings are clearly erroneous. Sandrelli v. State,
2016 Ark. 103, 485 S.W.3d 692. Based on a review of the
record, the circuit court did not clearly err when it
concluded that Whitney's affidavit of sovereignty did not
state a colorable cause of action that would entitle him to
proceed in forma pauperis and when it denied Whitney's
request to file a meritless affidavit of sovereignty.
dismissed; petitions moot.
Josephine Linker Hart, Justice, dissenting.
dissent for the reasons outlined in Gray v. State,
2018 Ark. 79, ___ S.W.3d ___ (Hart, J., dissenting). The only
matter properly before us at this juncture is Mr.
Whitney's Petition for Extension of Time to File
Petitioner's Brief. This court does not yet have
jurisdiction to rule on the merits of Mr. Whitney's
 In addition to naming Antonio
Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations, Whitney
named as respondents, Donald Trump, President of the United
States; Jeff Sessions, United States Attorney General; Asa
Hutchinson, Governor of Arkansas; Leslie Rutledge, Arkansas
Attorney General; Rick Snyder, ...