OMG – ‘private person’ in USA Laws

Being in Canada made my research Canada centric but also I studied much USA law and cases EXCEPT for the concept of private person in US law. Watch the short video below for proof of private person here, there and everywhere in US law BUT very specific and different areas compared to natural person.

Based on a few recent comments here on the blog I ventured to a search engine and typed in the magic phrase “us law” to find some US law sites, then on a couple of different websites on their internal search boxes I typed in the magic phrase “private person” (in quotes to eliminate private and person on the same page but not together).

I know this is going fast and it’s very technical but I hope you can reproduce this masterpiece of complex research on your own (sarcasm).

Do your own searches for “private person” on your local jurisdictions law websites and see what you come up with. The results might surprise you – especially if you keep in mind searches for “natural person” usually produce far more results.

How many people do you know who have ever referred to, taught or looked for “private person” in law? I suggest you take a look for “private person” in your local laws.

Here are few pages I found in under 2 minutes. For those who can interpret the legalese, go for it and let us know what you think the use and context of private person means. I do note that “citizen arrest” statutes commonly refer to private person arrest and private person even shows up in VERY SPECIFIC IRS stuff – note the unique context.

Have fun. You never know what nuggets you will stumble across, like the last entry below from the University of Tennessee law course clearly, simply making the distinction between a private person and a public one. This is really not that hard if you can get past all the fear around the word “person”. The word person must ALWAYS be viewed in it’s correct CONTEXT.

NOTE: To search a website that does not have a built in search tool you can use a search phrase on Google to limit it to a specific website:

USE THIS IN THE GOOGLE SEARCH BOX – site:name of site search term     ie. private person

A Quick Proof and Research Demo Video

LINKS TO EXAMPLES OF private person in US LAW

– What is a private person?

[HISTORY: Adopted by the Council of the City of Binghamton on August 18, 2010.]  PDF version


IRS Instructions for Form W-8EXP

Foreign government. A foreign government includes only the integral parts or controlled entities of a foreign sovereign as defined in Temporary Regulations section 1.892-2T.

An integral part of a foreign sovereign, in general, is any person, body of persons, organization, agency, bureau, fund, instrumentality, or other body, however designated, that constitutes a governing authority of a foreign country. The net earnings of the governing authority must be credited to its own account or to other accounts of the foreign sovereign, with no portion benefiting any private person.

A controlled entity of a foreign sovereign is an entity that is separate in form from the foreign sovereign or otherwise constitutes a separate juridical entity only if:

      • It is wholly owned and controlled by the foreign sovereign directly or indirectly through one or more controlled entities.
      • It is organized under the laws of the foreign sovereign by which it is owned.
      • Its net earnings are credited to its own account or to other accounts of the foreign sovereign, with no portion of its income benefiting any private person.
      • Its assets vest in the foreign sovereign upon dissolution.

OTHER IRS FORMS (not a complete list)

U.S. Tax Treaties – under Commonwealth of Independent States (C.I.S.) Link to PDF

IRS info re Form W-8EXP – under definitions – foreign government – IRS website page

DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY – Internal Revenue Service – 26 CFR Parts 1 and 301

[TD 9610]   RIN 1545-BK68
Regulations Relating to Information Reporting by Foreign Financial Institutions and Withholding on Certain Payments to Foreign Financial Institutions and Other Foreign Entities  Link to PDF


Montana Code Annotated 2013  webpage

46-6-502. Arrest by private person(1) A private person may arrest another when there is probable cause to believe that the person is committing or has committed an offense and the existing circumstances require the person’s immediate arrest. The private person may use reasonable force to detain the arrested person.
(2) A private person making an arrest shall immediately notify the nearest available law enforcement agency or peace officer and give custody of the person arrested to the officer or agency.

     History: En. 95-611 by Sec. 1, Ch. 196, L. 1967; amd. Sec. 3, Ch. 274, L. 1974; R.C.M. 1947, 95-611(part); amd. Sec. 40, Ch. 800, L. 1991; amd. Sec. 8, Ch. 332, L. 2009.


Understanding Defamation PDF of Webpage   –  link to source webpage  – Supreme Court Decision

Who is considered a private person in a libel suit?

Because the fault standard depends on the status of the plaintiff, the outcome of a libel case often hinges on whether the plaintiff is considered a public official or figure or a private person. This is not always easy to determine, and many libel verdicts have been overturned by appeals courts on the basis that the wrong fault standard was imposed on the plaintiff.

Generally, a libel plaintiff who does not meet the definitions of either a public official or a public figure is considered to be a private person, meaning that in most states it is easier for him/her to prove that the media defendant was at fault in publishing the allegedly libelous statement.

A private person may be well known in the community, but he/she has no authority or responsibility for the conduct of governmental affairs and has not thrust himself or herself into the middle of an important public controversy.

Example: A person with nationwide name recognition was involved in a highly publicized divorce case, but she was held to be a private person in a libel case that originated when a magazine misstated the grounds for granting the divorce. The court held that a divorce — even one that attracted widespread public attention — was a private matter, not a public controversy.

Another example: Elmer Gertz was widely known in several contexts in Chicago. As a lawyer, he had represented defendants in highly publicized cases; he was an author and an amateur actor and had served on various citizens’ committees in Chicago.

He became a plaintiff in a libel libel case after he agreed to represent a family in a civil suit against a Chicago police officer who had been found guilty of murder in the shooting of a youth. A John Birch Society magazine then falsely accused Gertz of having a criminal record and being a “Leninist” or a “Communist fronter.”

Despite his prominence, the Supreme Court ruled that Gertz was a private person for the purposes of his suit because he had done nothing to inject himself into the controversy surrounding the shooting and subsequent criminal trial of the policeman, which was the focus of the magazine article. In representing the family in a civil action, Gertz was just practicing his profession and acting in the capacity of a private person, the Court held.


Well there is a start. What will you find in your search. Please share them here in the comments….

Originally Published on: Dec 28, 2013

UPDATE July 25, 2019

I received an email from a USA member seeking further clarification on ‘private person’ in US law based on his research, which everyone should do themselves. Congrats to all who do. Below is the email and my response:


Thank you for your prompt help in signing me into your website last night. 
I watched one 2+ hour video and it was very informative and I am looking forward to learning more of your knowledge of being a Private Person. 
I live my life as much as I possibly can as a Natural Person as an American National, just south of you in Washington. It has not been the easiest journey but I will never return to being the status of a United States Citizen after knowing what I know now about the Corporation named the UNITED STATES.
    I wanted to share with you that I had never heard the term ‘Private Person’ until last week I noticed it in a legal opinion I was reading. I googled it and that is how I found your website, so decided to look it up and it caught my interest. so I signed up to be able to read and learn more. I decided this morning to do a bit more research and I was very surprised at what I found. So I am sending it to you in this e-mail.
Natural Person is often used here in the States, and I knew the definition of this term, but I had never seen a definition for Private Person, so I looked it up. I was very surprised at what I found, and I think you should be aware of what we are dealing with in our laws and the way they are written in the United States. Please read the following, it reflects what I was able to find for the definitions of Private Person and Natural Person:
19 U.S. Code § 2571.Definitions [United States noted here would be a Corporation] 
(9)Private person 

The term “private person” means—

(A) any individual who is a citizen or national of the United States; and
B) any corporation, partnership, association, or other legal entity organized or existing under the law of any State, whether for profit or not for profit.
H.R.4537 – Trade Agreements Act of 1979 – 
***[This is the reference given as the source for the definition of
Private Person]***

H.R.4537 – Trade Agreements Act of 1979

Summary: H.R.4537 — 96th Congress (1979-1980)


****************I thought what an odd place to define Private Person*******************
What is the Corporation of the United States hiding?


A living, breathing human being, as opposed to a legal entity such as a corporation. Different rules and protections apply to natural persons and corporations, such as the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, which applies only to natural persons.
***********I enjoy being a living, breathing human being Blush*********
If you have any other access to a definition of Private Person in the United States,
please share it.
Thank you again, Gary
Also, thank you for what your are doing to educate through your website!


Welcome Gary,

Thanks for writing and sharing in your findings.
You have entered rarified air by having watched info and actually applied it to your local laws research.
So few people do. I’m not kidding.
A number of things to point out:
  1. it is ‘private person’ (pp) not ‘Private Person’ (same for np) – basic rules of english grammar rule
  2. there is a video sharing the difference between np and pp
  3. your example of ‘private person’ has to be understood in the context of statute construction:
    1. a definition created in a statute is applicable only to that statue, section or subsection where it appears. Every statute can redefine any word/term at any time but only for it’s own purpose and limited to where it is defined,
      1. there is usually a global definition statute ie. “Interpretation Act” that applies to all Acts unless an Act overrides the global definition within itself. No definition in global or specific Act, then you rely on law dictionary definition, if none there the English dictionary (NOTE: Blacks Law Dictionary is the SYSTEM dictionary, Bouviers is the common law)
    2. the statute you reference is a customs statute, federal jurisdiction, therefore for that specific purpose pp has been redefined but is not applicable to other statutes (unless Customs related, but another Customs statute may have redefined it again – gotta check every time)
    3. pp exists in it’s natural sense mostly in the State jurisdiction where ‘private’ exists and cannot be eliminated, another reason why State citizen is preferable to Federal citizen. See if you can find pp defined in any other federal Acts and also State Acts,
    4. If you look carefully under 19 U.S. Code § 2571 9(B) it is joined by ‘and’ with 9(A)
      1. both 9(A) and 9(B) have to be true for the definition to apply to anyone
      2. which means you have to be “an individual” (what is that defined as?), “a citizen or national of the United States” (what evidence usually is there of that? ie. DL, SSN) and a “legal entity organized under under any law of any State” (what is a State?, does a Registration of Birth document create an organization under a law of a State?)
      3. as you can see there are many steps and layers they hide the truth under
Here’s a link to basic USA info on use of ‘private person’:
Keep up the research and enjoy the process.





Links to all pages referenced in video – copy and paste


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