Han Shot First- The Legal Geeks On Self Defense & Star Wars

Attorneys Jessica Mederson and Josh Gilliland reviewing “self defense” under Common Law and the Model Penal Code in analyzing whether Han Solo was legally justified in shooting Greedo first in the original Star Wars (Episode IV).


  1. Doesn’t Tatooine belong to the Hutts? Jabba the Hutt, and his agent Greedo, may have law enforcement authority. Han is trying to leave the jurisdiction at the time, though Greedo may not have known that when he pulled a weapon. Jabba later claimed Greedo wasn’t planning to kill Han, but it seems he was, so maybe Greedo was exceeding that authority.

    • That would imply breaching a smuggling contract (dumping cargo for fear of being bordered) carries criminal liability instead of just civil. This would also require that an illegal act against the Empire is both legal on Tatooine and a failure to perform such a contract is a criminal act. While any society with a Doctrine of Fear is begging for a revolution, it also might have a very liberal self-defense doctrine to ensure society is both unstable and in constant fear.

  2. Even if the Hutts owned Tatooine, the presence of Imperial Storm Troopers implies that sovereign authority over Tatooine is exercised by the Empire, not the Hutts; therefore the Empire has de facto and, most likely, de jure law enforcement authority. Simply put, Greedo threatened Han with death over an unenforceable, illegal contract and Han, believing his life to be in imminent danger, either by Greedo or at the hands of Jabba, had every right to use what ever force he deemed necessary to preserve his own life.