But your Honor...
November 14, 2007 8:09 PM   Subscribe

Idiot Legal Arguments: A Casebook for Dealing with Extremist Legal Arguments: A minimal compendium of legal citations to frivolous arguments.
posted by Falconetti (31 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I sure hope nobody shows this site to Jonathan Lee Riches (c). It might give him ideas.
posted by greenmagnet at 8:17 PM on November 14, 2007 [4 favorites]

I alternately laughed and cried. But mostly laughed.
posted by inoculatedcities at 8:29 PM on November 14, 2007

Not much leaves me speechless these days, but
Riches v. National Aeronautics and Space Administration et al October 11, 2007

Plaintiff sued the National Aeronautics and Space Administration "NASA", John F. Kennedy Space Center, Lisa Nowak d/b/a "Space Astronaut", Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and the Space Shuttle Challenger for NASA Harassment. Plaintiff seeks the return of copyrighted and patented material belonging to Jonathan Lee Riches, i.e., jet fuel, space suits, moon rocks, mercury, DNA from pluto. Plaintiff also moves for a TRO prohibiting defendants from launching any material away from Earth without plaintiff's written permission. Plaintiff claims that defendants are in a major conspiracy to defraud American tax payers and Congress, and that he learned this through his sexual relationship with Lisa Nowak who brought secret documents to him in prison. Plaintiff also asserts that his ex-girlfriend Lisa Nowak told him that the Mars rover isn't at Mars, but in an Arizona desert to make people believe NASA has been to Mars to justify federal funding. Nowak also allegedly told plaintiff that the International Space Station is a trailer that was bought from a Miami Winnebago dealership for $1,200.
Sorry, Falconetti. greenmagnet has upstaged you.
posted by fleetmouse at 8:35 PM on November 14, 2007

Wow. The links in the table of contents look like things I might like to read, but the way the text is formatted just made my eyes blur instantly. Completely unreadable.
posted by rifflesby at 8:41 PM on November 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

You have to admit, putting a "fringe" on the flag is just mocking them.
posted by dhartung at 8:43 PM on November 14, 2007

rifflesby: Welcome to the wonderful world of inline legal citation. To be honest, you're not missing much because none of the sections have a summary of what, exactly, the argument is. In order to find that out, you have to look up the cases, but a lot of these cases are not online either because of their age, because they came from a trial court, or because they were unpublished.
posted by jedicus at 8:52 PM on November 14, 2007

I should say, they aren't online for free. Lexis Nexis, Westlaw, and the like undoubtedly have most or all of them.
posted by jedicus at 8:54 PM on November 14, 2007

It's enough to make you start thinking that barratry should become a capital crime.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 9:03 PM on November 14, 2007

There are some strange, strange people out there.
posted by blacklite at 9:09 PM on November 14, 2007

jedicus: this project to put US case law online (for free) may be of interest.
posted by Infinite Jest at 9:17 PM on November 14, 2007 [5 favorites]

"perp filed suits against all judges of the US Tax Court but this ploy would not prevent one of them from presiding in his current case"

I like that one. Unlike the flag fringe nonsense, one can at least see how it might work.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 9:29 PM on November 14, 2007

Is this anything like the Chewbacca Defense?

The first time I heard about this type of argument, a defendent refused to pay his fines because he didn't believe in the US monetary system. "How did you get here?" asked the judge. "I drove," he replied. "Then you can give the court some of the same stuff you gave the gas station owner to fill-up your car with gas."
posted by eye of newt at 9:41 PM on November 14, 2007

I wish the different sections had a summary of the ridiculous legal arguments being used. I found some neat stuff in there but reading past all the citations was painful.
posted by pombe at 10:43 PM on November 14, 2007

Wow, that Jonathan Lee Riches link that greenmagnet posted has some real gold in it. If you read his filing in the NASA case, it includes this gem of a paragraph:

"Nowak told me that on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong never stepped or went to the moon. Instead Armstrong was at a New Orleans Jazz Tavern blowing horns with his cousin Louis Armstrong"
posted by pombe at 10:47 PM on November 14, 2007 [3 favorites]

Plaintiff Jonathan Lee Riches (a/k/a Marathon Jon) sued the international Olympic Committee, U.S. Olympic Committee, 2008 Beijing Olympics, The Special Olympics, U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, and Lance Armstrong d/b/a Tour de France Cycling Champion. Plaintiff claims that he is a four-time Mr. Olympia and is residing in a concentration camp at FCI Williamsburg in South Carolina. He alleges that he ran a 3.38 minute mile around the FCI Williamsburg rec yard and sent his results and urine sample to defendants, but is being discriminated against and is being denied entry to the 2008 Olympics. Plaintiff further alleges that he ran 26.2 miles in 1 hour 58 minutes , but the defendants won't allow him to join the Olympics because he is White. Plaintiff also alleges that defendants forbade him from racing at Churchill Downs and sent Tonya Harding to break his knee caps.

posted by C17H19NO3 at 11:03 PM on November 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

rifflesby writes "but the way the text is formatted just made my eyes blur instantly. Completely unreadable"

I think it's by design ! In italy, we produce so much law and jurisprudence everybody is guilty of something or in violation of some other national law or lesser rule. Both the language and the way arguments are exposed discourage anybody , even with a law degree, to think about law as an effective or efficient instrument.

And the programmers tought they invented obfuscate c++ code ... newbies !
posted by elpapacito at 1:36 AM on November 15, 2007

That was awesome. Thank you Falconetti.
posted by caddis at 5:15 AM on November 15, 2007

Great stuff. "Jurisdiction is a matter of law, statute, and constitution, not a child’s game wherein one’s power is magnified or diminished by the display of some magic talisman."
posted by languagehat at 5:35 AM on November 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

I worked with a guy who made a whole bunch of these arguments. He was one of them dadgum tax protester types and fell for it hook, line, and sinker. He made his employer fill list his name on his employment documents with both caps and lowercase letters with like a colon halfway through his middle name.
posted by Justinian at 6:37 AM on November 15, 2007

Jonathan Lee Riches (c).

Holy shit.
posted by middleclasstool at 6:39 AM on November 15, 2007

Wow. that Jonathan Lee Riches really is something...

Randy Weavers wants to turn me into Weaver chicken and bake me this Thanksgiving. Weaver is violiting my constitutional rights under booker and Fanfan. He has the keys to release me from prison, but he let out Jack Kevorkian out instead. Weaver wants me to wear lipstick at a Fema concentration camp and name change me to Victoria Weaver II. I'm scared Weaver can't die like Michael Myers and keeps coming at me. I'm hiding in my locker, with the biggest padlock east of the Mississippi. I only know the combination, but now I'm stuck.

I don't know about dumbasses like this, but they sure waste a hell of a lot of time and resources for no good reason. Maybe some order preventing him from filing anything himself and forcing him to go through a lawyer? This guy's just a whacko...
posted by splice at 6:57 AM on November 15, 2007

Wow. I actually know a guy who really believes that land patent stuff as a way to get around the zoning. His "only hesitation" was that the meeting he had to attend to get the documents was full of Confederate flag waving gun nuts. Glad to have some case law to rebut it. Thanks!
posted by salvia at 8:57 AM on November 15, 2007

Oh, funny: "'The identical language of the land patent in this case and in the Hilgeford case suggest to this court that some party is responsible for the broad dissemination of the obviously false and frivolous legal concepts which have led to this suit")'" Yeah, these Confederate flag waving gun nuts.
posted by salvia at 8:59 AM on November 15, 2007

It's a shame about the courts' refusal to use unusual punctuation and capitalization when the defendant insists on it; I was thinking Bobby Tables might have a relative who's difficult to sue.
posted by rossmik at 9:59 AM on November 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

No porpoises were harmed in the making of this notebook.

Clearly they are doing it wrong. I find I need to sacrifice at least one aquatic mammal for every dissertation I write.

It's the only way to ensure proper spell-checking and grammar consistency.
posted by quin at 12:15 PM on November 15, 2007

I see your Jonathan Lee Riches and I raise you the English legal system's Gedaljahu Ebert, a man who has taken the art of vexatious litigation to such airy heights that entire new forms of legal restraint have had to be devised to rein him in. As can be seen from this this impressive set of court decisions he has managed to occupy the attentions of the English Court of Appeal perhaps more than any other litigant, and his appearances have only dried up after what is in effect a restraining order that bans him from the Royal Courts of Justice. Riches is a mere amateur in comparison.
posted by Major Clanger at 12:54 PM on November 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the Ebert link. First, may I say that Lord Justice Mummery is a magnificent name. Second, this, the very last exchange in the very last case (the restraining-order one) sounds like something out of a Pinter play:
THE APPLICANT: His Lordship is not going to change the validity of the assignment?


THE APPLICANT: So I didn't get an answer on this letter that I presented. That this such letters -- not to the court.

LOD JUSTICE BROOKE: If you want to write to the Lord Chancellor, Mr Ebert, not for this court at the moment unless the Lord Chancellor asks us to ---

THE APPLICANT: (Inaudible) did say no problem, I can write to anybody, any person outside the court.

LORD JUSTICE BROOKE: All we are concerned about is applications to the court.

THE APPLICANT: But not letters? Let's make clear you put a restrain ---

LORD JUSTICE BROOKE: We have made our order, Mr Ebert, we have made our order.

THE APPLICANT: Does it not include letters?
posted by languagehat at 1:14 PM on November 15, 2007

I concede that Ebert probably has more talent, inasmuch as it appears that he was actually arguing orally before the court, which is pretty impressive.

However, I would argue that Riches (c) (don't forget the copyright symbol after his name or you might be his next named defendant) outdoes Ebert in a couple of areas.

1. Imagination. I admit to skimming over the Ebert stuff and not reading it fully yet, but I've yet to come over any allegations that, in the imagination category, beat "Defendants are in a vast conspiracy to hijack my torso, 3 toes, and my constitutional rights and ship them to a secret headquarters in Concord New Hampshire." Or, "Barry Bonds bench pressed me against my will to show off in front of his ball park buddies. I also witnessed Mr. Bonds selling steroids to nuns."

2. Sheer exhaustiveness. Have you seen this lawsuit? How can you beat that list of defendants? You've got Mike Tyson, the Uniform Commercial Code, the Sears Tower, Vanna White, Napoleon, the Talmud, Quaker Oats, and Zeus, all named as defendants, just to name a few.

They both have their strong points, but I still prefer Riches (c) for hilarious evening reading.
posted by greenmagnet at 2:08 PM on November 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

I've had this bookmarked at work for a couple of years now, since I work in taxation, and just finished (yet another) tax protester case, against a guy who raised several of these moonbat arguments. The ADL site is a real timesaver for me.
posted by missouri_lawyer at 5:08 PM on November 15, 2007

Riches (c) takes the cake:

"I've known Isiah Thomas since 1995 when he played basketball for the Detroit Pistons. I lived near Coatesville Pennsylvania where current NBA guard for the Detroit Pistons Richard "Rip" Hamilton is from. We all used to play pickup basketball games at CASH High School on Rt. 30. This is where I had my first Encounter Sexually with Isiah Thomas around October 1995. After a pickup game, Isiah took me in back of some PortaPotties and began French Kissing me. He pulled out $1,000 dollars and told me not to tell my mother and he will continue to send me money, in return of him sending me love letters."


"Isiah told me to do credit card fraud and Identity theft for him so he can pay off his gambling debts to the Gambinos ... If I didn't do it, Isiah BlackedMailed me by telling me he was going to tell my mother about our gay relationship and he was going to get his team mate former Bad Boy Rick Mahorn after me. I had no other choice, but to do cybercrime out of fear of my life from Isiah."

The more you read, the sadder and more pathetic it becomes.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:05 AM on November 16, 2007

I really hope this guy gets the therapy and support he clearly needs.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:05 PM on November 16, 2007

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