An Example of Application of IFR to Solving a Legal Problem

Y. B. Karasik,
Thoughts Guiding Systems Corp.,
Ottawa, Canada.
e-mail:karasik@sympatico.ca

My son received a letter from the City Hall informing that the deadline is approaching for paying the ticket he got for parking overnight on so-and-so street during a snow storm. He never parked on that street and never got a ticket. "Go to the court and tell the judge that the parking officer made a mistake when writing down the license plate of a car on the ticket," - I proposed. "It will be my word against the word of the officer," - my son objected,- "And the judge will believe the officer," - he said demonstrating an amazing insight into the psychology of judges. "I have to find another argument," - he added and we both immersed ourselves into the deep thinking.

"He has to tell that this is a mistake and has to not tell so," - I was thinking in the best traditions of TRIZ. But no separation principle could help me to resolve this contradiction. Days were passing after days but I was unable to resolve it. My son in the meantime was searching something on the internet. He never learned TRIZ and his creativity was not constrained by its schemes.

Eventually the day of trial arrived and we went to the court. "Do you plead guilty ?" - the judge asked. "Not at all" - my son replied boldly. "Do you have questions to the witness (the officer)?" - the judge asked. "No, I do not have questions to him. But I have a question to the prosecution," - my son said, - "There is a provincial regulation of 1964 that enforcing of overnight winter parking ban can only commence if the Chief of the Meteorological Services sent a note to the Manager that snow storm was expected. My question is whether such a note was actually sent ?"

A deep silence fell in the court-room. "I am unaware of such a regulation," - the prosecutor said. "I am unaware of it either," - the judge said, - "let's send the clerk to verify." The clerk gone and for 5 minutes there was a tense silence in the court room. In 5 minutes he returned and confirmed that there is such a regulation. "Do you have a copy of the note ?" - the judge asked the prosecution. "No, we do not have it," - the prosecution conceded. "Case dismissed !" - the judge ruled.

"To which Manager the Chief of Meteo-Services has to send the note ?" - I asked my son after we left the court, - "To the Manager of City Hall ? To the Manager of the law enforcing officers ? To the Manager of the street or to the manager of the building near which the car was parked ?"

"It does not matter", - my son replied - "The regulation does not specify it. The note has to be sent to some Manager. The main thing is that the prosecution did not have a copy of such a note to prove that the ticket was issued lawfully," - he explained.

I again immersed myself into the TRIZ thoughts trying to find a TRIZ explanation to my son's solution. Before long, I retroactively, as befit TRIZniks, found it.

Instead of proving that he did not violate any law, my son decided to prove that the City officers violated a law or a regulation. It is easier said than done. The Ideal Final Result would be that a law or regulation was violated by itself. To be violated by itself, such a law/regulation has to be either meaningless, or self-contradictory, or incomplete. By digging on the internet, my son found such a regulation, which could not be followed through due to its incompleteness: the manager to whom a note of a snow storm had to be sent was not specified. May be in 1964 when the regulation was issued everybody knew who this Manager was and there was no need in saying it explicitly. But since then all forgot.

The only problem which I could not cope with was how to transition to the above TRIZ solution from the initial contradiction (that he had to say that the car was not parked on the street and had not to say so). There is apparently an unbridgeable gap here. TRIZ provides various threads of creative thoughts but does not indicate which threads to terminate, which initiate, which suspend, and how transition from one thread to another, and when. That is why it remains rather an art than a science.

Not surprisingly, therefore, that the best TRIZ solution are always found by those who do not know TRIZ.