A Reader Offers Pro Bono Tax Advice To Ranch Rescue
In the unfolding history of citizen
groups keeping watch against the illegal alien invasion
on the Mexican border, the undisputed All-American
Patriot hall of fame so far includes Jim Gilchrist's
Minuteman Project, Chris Simcox's
Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, and Glenn Spencer's
American Border Patrol . . . while the border hall
of shame remains the sole province of the hapless
Though arguably the first to
organize help for private border landowners, Ranch
Rescue's leaders were recently chewed up and spat out by
one of the Treason Lobby's most
vicious attack dogs—none other than Morris Dees'
Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)
and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education
The New York Times's Andrew
reported on August 19 all the gory details of how
Ranch Rescue founder Jack Foote, along with his sidekick
Casey Nethercott—previously convicted of felony assault
in California, it turns out—both failed to answer
tort claims filed against them by the SPLC, as the
result of their botched 2003 "Operation Falcon"
in South Texas. [2
Illegal Immigrants Win Arizona Ranch in Court]
When the smoke had cleared, Foote
had an outstanding legal judgment over his head,
Nethercott wound up in jail on a gun charge (as a
convicted felon, he wasn't supposed to possess one), and Nethercott's
sister lost an Arizona ranch property to
the SPLC's plaintiff illegal aliens.
But the SPLC's trouncing of Ranch
Rescue nevertheless provides a valuable, although
extremely costly, case study for all future efforts of
border-watchers, both on public and private land. The
misadventures of Foote and Nethercott illustrate what
NOT to do in running a
private border watch. [NOTE: I previously covered
Ranch Rescue before its implosion
here; and noted its happier days with
Soldier of Fortune magazine
So for the benefit of all
border-watching Minutemen, past, present and future, I
offer these lessons learned from Ranch Rescue:
Beware the tort claim!
All personal injury lawsuits—tort
claims—are serious business and MUST be
answered, as well as defended vigorously by the best
lawyer you can afford...and then some. Not answering
a claim filed against you is the
only sure-fire way to LOSE a case, and leave
yourself open to virtually
unlimited liability for injuries, real or
imagined, dreamed-up by the plaintiffs.
HIRE AN ATTORNEY!
The fact that Foote and Nethercott did not hire an
attorney to respond to the SPLC's personal injury
claim on behalf of the illegal aliens was absolutely
mind-boggling. When hiring legal counsel, the
attorney must be licensed in the state where the
lawsuit was filed, and be experienced with that
state's laws relating to personal injury,
citizens' arrest provisions, firearms
regulations, or anything else relevant to the case.
If you're ever touched,
harmed or assaulted, sue the bastards!
If while conducting Minuteman duties, the
Treason Lobby's "protesting" rent-a-mob
street thugs ever so much as land one drop of
spittle on you, they and their organizational
handlers have just opened themselves up to the same
kind of tort liability as suffered by Ranch Rescue.
So fight fire with fire! If you're ever
kicked, spat upon or otherwise harassed by the
street provocateurs of "tolerance," sue the
specific Treason Lobby organizations that brought
them out to harm you—and the horse they rode in on.
Don't hire felons.
It would be a good idea for border-watch organizers
and/or private landowners to conduct some type of
background investigation on all border watch
volunteers. So in order to protect your bank account
from liability, Rule #1 should be to tell
felons to take a hike. It's just not worth the
risk. (See below.)
Property owners: don't
let yahoos on your land. There was
one particular item from the New York Times,
almost completely lost in the Ranch Rescue furor,
which was even more amazing to me than the loss of
Nethercott's land to illegal aliens. The real story:
the fact that the Texas ranch owner who invited
Foote and Nethercott on his property settled his
part of the SPLC lawsuit for $100,000 rather than
face an even greater exposure to liability in court.
Where there's smoke, there's fire. The rancher's
settlement is a pretty good indication that there
was indeed something rotten with Operation Falcon.
The Texas rancher's $100,000 loss here screams out
to all border landowners: "Know your Minutemen."
Don't let anyone on your property unless you do have
the highest level of confidence in their
professionalism, competence and restraint.
Don't touch the aliens.
Border Cam, video-camera-laden
UAVs, as well as the
Minuteman Project's trademark binoculars and
cell phone (note the updated colonist
logo on their web site) have avoided all of the
problems associated with the murky area of citizen's
arrest law. Bravo! The how-to of detaining a
trespasser or a suspected thief, whether on your own
property or not, is a legal minefield of
state-specific codes and case law. Ranch Rescue's
choice not to adopt a
"no contact" rule opened them up to tort
claim liability . . . and they paid the price.
In doing the jobs that the American government won't
do, Minutemen (and
women) must bear all the
risks as well as the rewards of a job well done.
But no one ever said that stopping the illegal alien
invasion was going to be easy.
extraordinary phenomenon of private citizens peacefully
defending their country's border when the federal
government failed to do so has been the single greatest
victory for immigration reform since
California's Proposition 187 in
This is a
mortal threat to the Treason Lobby. It will respond
unscrupulous viciousness. It can be beaten—but it
has to be handled with extreme care.
Juan Mann [send him
email] is a lawyer and the proprietor of