Last Updated, August 29, 1999
Idiot Legal Arguments: A Casebook for Dealing with Extremist Legal Arguments
By Bernard J. Sussman, JD, MLS, CP
Foreword (by Mark Pitcavage)
What follows this introduction is a truly extraordinary collection of cases and decisions dealing with the "paper terrorism" tactics of the so-called "patriot" movement. While some members of this movement prefer the use of guns or bombs, the weapons of choice for many others are harassing lawsuits, harassing filings, bogus documents ranging from counterfeit money to counterfeit identification cards, tax protest arguments, and many related activities. Often these tactics are accompanied by bizarre legal or, more accurately, pseudolegal language. Many people who encounter such tactics for the first time are surprised and sometimes confused by the strange and unexpected arguments that show up in the courtroom.
Bernard Sussman has compiled the most extensive collection ever of legal citations and rulings related to these "patriot" arguments. This exhaustive concordance will be a valuable resource to attorneys and judges who will be thankful to discover that previous courts have often dealt with these issues before. However, this guide is also useful to laymen and others outside the judicial system willing to wade through all the citations. It is particularly valuable in helping people to understand the energy and ingenuity with which these extremist individuals seek to undermine or pervert the legal system through radical reinterpretations of our society’s laws. Taken together, these arguments, frivolous though they may be, represent an assault on the judicial system by people who would like to consider themselves immune to the laws that govern modern society. In putting together this collection of precedents, Bernard Sussman has provided a great service to all who wish to see the laws preserved.
Note on organization: This casebook is broadly organized by topic, i.e., rulings connected to "fringe on the flag" arguments are all collected together. Some topics are broad enough to warrant subheadings. Within each heading or subheading, the relevant cases are listed, often with explanatory comments. A hypertext index has been provided to allow readers to jump to appropriate sections, but readers should be aware that many of these topics overlap to a certain degree, and there may be related cases of interest grouped under other topic headings.
Because the casebook is so long, the on-line version is divided into ten smaller sections. Readers may use the hypertext index below to go to a particular heading, or they may browse through the sections using the forward and back arrows provided. In addition, it is possible to download a Microsoft Word file containing the entire text. This is provided for those individuals who wish to print out the entire document for use at a later time.
people believe with great fervor preposterous things that just happen to
coincide with their self-interest."
Judge Frank Easterbrook,
Coleman v. CIR (7th Cir 1986) 791 F2d 68 at 69 [and
quoted in several subsequent
list is of court decisions, and a very few other documents, in which militia
myths and similar harebrained arguments were mentioned.
In some instances the arguments were analyzed and debunked, but in most
they were simply mentioned with ridicule.
The citation method, although different from the Bluebook, should be
fairly clear. "CIR",
usually as a defendant, is "Commissioner of Internal Revenue", a
common abbreviated title in US Tax Court cases.
"UCC" is the Uniform Commercial Code, a body of laws relating
to financial and business transactions, adopted by all 50 states.
A decision described as "unpub" was not printed at length in
a West reporter -- and a "(t)" following a West citation means that
the case was listed therein only as a line in a table -- but almost invariably
could be found on both WestLaw and Lexis and from those appearances the other
citations, such as AFTR2d and USTC, were obtained; to assist in finding such
decisions, the entire decision date is provided.
No porpoises were harmed in the making of this notebook.
Copyright (C) 1999 by Bernard J. Sussman.
Index (to browse from beginning, simply go to first link)