Law-Fu: The Offensive & Defensive Use of the Law


  • Zersetzung - It seems to me that many (all?) of the techniques described here would be deemed illegal harassment.
    • "Operations were designed to intimidate and destabilise them by subjecting them to repeated disappointment, and to socially alienate them by interfering with and disrupting their relationships with others as in social undermining. The aim was to induce personal crises in victims, leaving them too unnerved and psychologically distressed to have the time and energy for anti-government activism.[16] The Stasi intentionally concealed their role as mastermind of the operations."
    • "It also had a comprehensive 50-page Zersetzung teaching manual, which included numerous examples of its practice."
    • "They exploited personal traits, such as homosexuality, as well as supposed character weaknesses of the targeted individual — for example a professional failure, negligence of parental duties, pornographic interests, divorce, alcoholism, dependence on medications, criminal tendencies, passion for a collection or a game, or contacts with circles of the extreme right — or even the veil of shame from the rumors poured out upon one's circle of acquaintances. From the point of view of the Stasi, the measures were the most fruitful when they were applied in connection with a personality; all "schematism" had to be avoided."
    • "The aim was to disrupt the target’s private or family life so they are unable to continue their “hostile-negative” activities towards the state. Typically, the Stasi would use collaborators to garner details from a victim’s private life. They would then devise a strategy to “disintegrate” the target’s personal circumstances – their career, their relationship with their spouse, their reputation in the community. They would even seek to alienate them from their children. Pingel-Schliemann cites the case of Herr J. First Herr J lost his driver’s licence. Months later he found anonymous notes insulting him hanging on the trees of his village. Then rumours circulated that he was cheating on his wife. At work Herr J faced growing problems. Finally, the police arrested him and sentenced him for a theft he didn’t commit. To Herr J, these events were disturbing, random and inexplicable. He had no inkling that the Stasi were behind them. The security service’s goal was to use Zersetzung to “switch off” regime opponents. After months and even years of Zersetzung a victim’s domestic problems grew so large, so debilitating, and so psychologically burdensome that they would lose the will to struggle against the East German state. Best of all, the Stasi’s role in the victim’s personal misfortunes remained tantalisingly hidden. The Stasi operations were carried out in complete operational secrecy. The service acted like an unseen and malevolent god, manipulating the destinies of its victims."

  • A good description of how the Nazis used the legal system to seize more power: Apocalypse: The Second World War - Episode 1: Aggression (1933–1939 (English version)
    • Summary: They campaigned through the traditional political system, and used division between the two other major parties (the Christian Democratic party and the Communist party) to secure a key position for Hitler (Chancellor). Hitler had the MInistry of the Interior position given to an ally, and the head of the police within that deparmtment was given to Herman Goering. Hitler immediately dissolved Parliament and forced new elections, and only 1 month later the Reichstag 
  • Related: SWATing

  • An explanation of the concept of Law-Fu by way of analogy:

      At one point in the movie "Raiders of the Lost Ark", Indiana Jones has just escaped from an Egyptian temple and is attempting to flee a Nazi encampment by stealing an airplane when he is spotted and ends up being forced to box with an absolutely humongous Nazi. After being punched a few times he ends up lying dazed on the ground while the Nazi towers over him, and it seems as though Indy's luck has finally run out, but fortunately the Nazi has forgotten about the spinning propeller of the plane they are fighting under. The prop ends up killing the Nazi and Indy escapes.

      If it hadn't been for that propeller, the Nazi would have been able to kill Indy. In a one-on-one fight with no weapons, the Nazi had a tremendous advantage. But because of this third element, because of this particular environment in which they were fighting, Indy was victorious. In this case Indy didn't intentionally try to guide the Nazi into the propeller, but it would have been a smart way to try to win the fight.

      I think that the law can be seen as analogous to the propeller in Indy's fight. When you walk into a bar and are attacked by an absolutely humongous MMA aficionado, the law is like an invisible propeller spinning next to you both, limiting what kinds of actions you can take without suffering severe consequences. Millions of people in the United States train in various martial arts using various conventional weapons (grappling, striking, using guns, tazers, knives, etc.), but neglect to train for the modern environment in which they will be using those skills. They're ignoring the prop.

      I see at least two main aspects of Law-Fu:

      1. Offensive - Using the law as a means of achieving your goal. [Figuring out the best way to guide someone into the propeller]

      2. Defensive - Avoiding negative consequences of the law while using the law or some other means to achieve your goal. [Figuring out how to avoid the propeller yourself while using the propeller or some other means to win the fight.]


  • Earlier Manifestations of Law-Fu:

      - The ACLU hands out wallet-sized folding cards that explain what your rights are when stopped by a police officer.


  • What Lawyers Have Said About Law-Fu:

      - I spoke to a personal injury attorney who said that the trouble with Law-Fu is that most situations are very fact-specific; juries are asked to apply a "reasonable person" standard (ie ask what a reasonable person would have done) when judging behavior. Juries can also be unpredictable. He became more convinced of the idea's merit when I mentioned that the idea already existed in the form of ACLU cards explaining your rights.


  • How to Learn Law-Fu:

      ATM my guess is that the best way to learn Law-Fu is to 1) have a basic understanding of how the legal systems in your country, state, and town work, 2) know the statutes in those legal systems that relate to particular situations you may encounter in the future, 3) know how courts and police officers will likely interpret (enforce) those statutes, 4) create and memorize automatic-responses for how you will respond to particular threats with your newfound legal knowledge.


  • How the US Legal System Works:



  • How State Legal Systems Work:



  • How County & Town-level Legal Systems Work:



  • How to Find Out the Statutes of Your Country, State, & Town:

      You can find the US Code here:

      You can find links to the statutes of all US states at the link below:

      As for county and town code, I'm not aware of any single database that has links to all counties and towns (maybe Westlaw / LexisNexis?). Your best bet is to look on Google.


  • How to Check the Interpretation of a Statute:


      You can use Westlaw or LexisNexis to search for cases that have interpreted that statute.

      You can look in "Annotated Code" books, which you may find at a nearby library (ex: Michie's Annotated Code of Maryland).

      Learn about "shepherding", in which a legal database looks at cases that have overruled certain cases that interpreted a statute. I didn't quite understand what this meant.


  • Specific Issues:




  • Misc Links:


Dealing with the police

Reneging on oral agreements

  • 2010.12.06 - Forbes - Peter Nygard answers to no one
    • Ebker testified that she and Nygård had orally agreed to a 50-50 partnership in which he would kick in $700,000 to finance the design and production of two sportswear lines out of her existing showroom. (Ebker says Nygård discouraged her pursuit of a written agreement, telling her that involving lawyers would be a “big mess.”) Within months of the closing Nygård fired Ebker, took over the offices and threw her out.

      Ebker is still fuming. “He literally ruined my life,” she says. Ebker claimed in court testimony that in their heated final conversation Nygård told her, “I have all your patterns, I have everything. I own everything. . . . I never intended to put anything in writing. . . . You have nothing, and I am a millionaire.” “Let’s try to reason,” she said she interjected. To which Nygård responded, “If you don’t have $1 million by Friday, I am going to see to it that your name and reputation are totally destroyed in this market.”

      Nygård told the court a different story, saying the two had a calm conversation in which he suggested they amicably part ways. The judge found Ebker to be “highly credible” and deemed Nygård “evasive,” “insincere” and “utterly lacking in credibility.” “We deplore the unseemly conduct of Nygård,” Judge Irving Cooper wrote but ultimately ruled that Ebker failed to prove she was damaged by his actions. Nygård’s counterclaim was also dismissed. Ebker, who calls him “a true villain of the world,” is writing a book about the case.
  • Get the quote from Barbara Corcoran's book about getting an agreement with Donald Trump in writing.

Flopping ... goes-viral


Discouraging employees from discussing their pay

2014.07.15 - The Atlantic - When the Boss Says, 'Don't Tell Your Coworkers How Much You Get Paid' ... id/374467/


Fight parking tickets with Fixed (a startup) ... fb&ncid=fb

Book - How to Sue a Telemarketer ... r-mr-title

2013.08.08 - Priceonomics - How Sergey Aleynikov Learned Never to Talk to the Police ... lk-to-the/

      Protecting your assets from lawsuits: ... z1olRcY5Tc - the tactics these guys use could be used to harass someone legally

Law For Dummies
Law 101
Legal Research for Beginners
You and the Police!
Arrest-Proof Yourself
Games Criminals Pay

NOTACON 8: Hacking The Man: Your Guide to the Courtroom
Law-Fu idea: a bumper sticker that says "I FIGHT ALL TICKETS"
- you can represent yourself if you aren't a lawyer, but you can't represent someone else
- He says court clerks become much more friendly when you say you aren't a lawyer, because they associate lawyers with demanding jerks who are getting paid way more.
- He says judges hate pro se litigants because so many of them are kooky. Apparently half of the petitions they get are hand-written.
- He says don't lie, but you're allowed to ask questions that have implications.
- He says the legal system sucks for teaching people a lesson.
- He says that when you're filing a brief, you can't just write stuff based on common sense; you need to cite stuff.
- He says nobody cares about your clever idea about how the system should work. All they care about is what the rule is, and how it applies in your case.
- He says to shut up when you talk to a cop, give as little info as possible.
- He says the best line to use is "I do not consent to any search". He says there's an ACLU video about it.
- He says the second best line is "Am I free to go?" He says that if they say "No", they have to decide to arrest you.
- "Circumstances are paramount when deciding what to say; everything in law depends on the circumstances."
- When it's worth getting pro help: Ask yourself, "What's the worst that could happen"? (29:00) Any disputes under a few thousand dollars.
- He said it's really important to take stuff off the table ASAP.
- He said now every contract he writes has a liability limit that says "At the MOST, I owe you your money back."
- DON'T call the judge, it makes you seem crazy.
- DON'T use fancy language in court to try to sound impressive.
- DO have a point when you're going to dispute something that the other party has said.
- The rules are not what you think they should be, what you heard they were, or whatever. The rules are what are in the book.
- You can find the local rules on Google.
- You can't appeal any issue that you didn't raise at trial, except with something called "plain error", which is an extremely aggregious, like the judge imposed the maximum penalty b/c he was pissed off at you, and you can prove it by looking his behavior in other cases.
- If you lose the lower decision and they tell you to pay the fine, and you want to contest it, DON'T PAY THE FINE. He almost lost his case b/c he did pay it.
- He says doing legal research is almost exactly like doing research for a math proof.
- 38:00 - CREXAC - Conclusion, Rule, EXplanation, Application, Conclusion
- Sheppard's Citations (40:40) - this lets you check if a case you want to use was superseded
- prosecutor tried to bargain him down to a chipped windshield and accidentally said "I tried to offer him a lesser offense, he's a pretty good driver."
- Around 43 mins in he gives a GREAT description of how he'd been able to get the officer to screw over the prosecutor's case.
- 45:30 - the only reason he was able to appeal was because he was "still serving his sentence" b/c he had his points.

Prenda Law
- This company was running an extortion racket in a superficially-legal way.

Forum Discussions

HackerNews Discussion after Google Glass wearer was harassed by police

Product Ideas

Keep it simple!

- A CD / DVD / software / iPhone app that would show you a first-person view of a particular situation and would test you to see if you could produce the correct response.
- Sell it at Wal-Mart for a few dollars near the checkout aisle or near the UFC stuff.
- Ask Dr. Lewis from Shark Tank how he got his sales so high for that wall-fixer thing he invented.
Here's his website, it doesn't have to be that fancy! -