Real Lawyer Reacts to South Park Chewbacca Defense
Why does Chewbacca live on Endor?! IT. DOES. NOT. MAKE. SENSE.
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Ever heard of the Chewbacca defense, it’s a parody that became a real thing. LOOK AT THE MONKEY.
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Here’s my review of the Seinfeld finale that also features a Johnny Cochran parody: https://youtu.be/lhg3hW3K_KA
Check out Adam Neely’s video on Dark Horse: https://youtu.be/0ytoUuO-qvg
Wikipedia sums it up perfectly:
“In a jury trial, a Chewbacca defense is a legal strategy in which a criminal defense lawyer tries to confuse the jury rather than refute the case of the prosecutor. It is an intentional distraction or obfuscation.
Because a Chewbacca defense distracts and misleads, it is an example of a red herring. It is also an example of an irrelevant conclusion, a type of informal fallacy in which one making an argument fails to address the issue in question.
The name Chewbacca defense comes from “Chef Aid”, an episode of the American animated series South Park. The episode, which premiered on October 7, 1998, satirizes the O. J. Simpson murder trial—particularly attorney Johnnie Cochran’s closing argument for the defense. In the episode, Cochran (voiced by Trey Parker) bases his argument on a false premise about the 1983 film Return of the Jedi. He asks the jury why a Wookiee like Chewbacca would want to live on Endor with the much smaller Ewoks when “it does not make sense”. He argues that if Chewbacca living on Endor does not make sense—and if even mentioning Chewbacca in the case does not make sense—then the jury must acquit.
In the Simpson murder trial, the real Johnnie Cochran tried to convince jurors that a glove found at the crime scene, alleged to have been left by the killer, could not be Simpson’s because it did not fit Simpson’s hand. Because the prosecution relied on the glove as evidence of Simpson’s presence at the scene, Cochran argued that the lack of fit proved Simpson’s innocence: “It makes no sense; it doesn’t fit; if it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit” was a refrain that Cochran also used in response to other points of the case.”
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I get asked a lot about whether being a practicing attorney is like being a lawyer on TV. I love watching legal movies and courtroom dramas. It’s one of the reasons I decided to become a lawyer. But sometimes they make me want to pull my hair out because they are ridiculous.
Today I’m taking a break from representing clients and teaching law students how to kick ass in law school to take on lawyers in the movies and on TV. While all legal movies and shows take dramatic license to make things more interesting (nobody wants to see hundreds of hours of brief writing), many of them have a grain of truth.
This is part of a continuing series of “Lawyer Reaction” videos. Got a legal movie or TV show you’d like me to critique? Let me know in the comments!
All clips used for fair use commentary, criticism, and educational purposes. See Hosseinzadeh v. Klein, 276 F.Supp.3d 34 (S.D.N.Y. 2017); Equals Three, LLC v. Jukin Media, Inc., 139 F. Supp. 3d 1094 (C.D. Cal. 2015).
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