What Law is Being Kept on Defiance?

What law is Joshua Nolan keeping in Defiance?

BrokenEarthThe story of Defiance takes place in the not-too-distant future.

The Earth was terraformed in a war with aliens called Votans, literally wiping out cities and governments.

An armistice is entered between the races, not necessarily meaning peace, but an end to war.

So, what is the law in the former city of St. Louis if the city, state of Missouri and the government of the United States no longer exist?

Defiance appears to be a city-state, such as Sparta, comprised of humans and different races of Votans.

Moreover, the city was protected by a force shield, again pointing towards the status as a city-state.

St. Louis Gateway ArchThere are references to a town charter which is the controlling government document. This could be evidence of a “constitution.”

The city charter appears to mirror the US Constitution allowing for religious and cultural freedoms.

This was demonstrated by a Castithan ceremony punishing/torturing a Castithan who acted cowardly in a battle (which likely also violated the law, but was tolerated for political stability). However, given the nature of the torture, the Castithan is arrested for his own protection on the charge of loitering.

Loitering is the criminal offense of remaining in a certain place for no apparent reason. (See, Black’s Law Dictionary App). Loitering statutes are generally held to be unconstitutionally vague. Id.

For example, the City of St. Louis once had § 765.010, Ordinance 50549 of the Revised Ordinances of the City of St. Louis, 1960, which stated:

“No person shall loiter at the corner of streets, or in the vicinity of any place of amusement, or hotel, or public building, or thoroughfare, and refuse to disperse or vacate such places when requested so to do by a police officer.”

St. Louis v. Burton, 478 S.W.2d 320, 321 (Mo. 1972).

This law prohibiting “wandering the streets” was constitutionally prohibited on grounds of both vagueness and overbreadth. Burton, 478 S.W.2d 320, 323 (Mo. 1972).

Charging the victim with loitering again points to Defiance being a city-state. There are no state crimes being violated, other than the laws of the city itself. Moreover, with the undefined city charter of Defiance, and the lack of the US Constitution, it is unknown whether a court would find a law prohibiting loitering in Defiance to be valid.

However, there is a significant argument against Defiance being a city-state: There is an agreed upon currency which is used by others outside of Defiance. Currency is issued by a government, and usually backed so it has value, opposed to gold or silver. And where there is a government issuing currency, there are also laws.

Which brings us back to the original question: what is the law of Defiance? It appears to be that outlined by the city-charter and government. It could be a stand alone city-state in a “territory” of the former United States, perhaps explaining the use of currency. However, given the destruction of the Pale Wars, it is unknown what former US Jurisprudence survived or why currency has value.

We do know this: the Mayor’s sister is a prostitute who runs the local brothel/bar, which is a class C felony in Missouri today. § 567.060 R.S.Mo.

And that is strong evidence that Defiance is a city-state, because only a state could issue such a law.

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Josh Gilliland
Josh Gilliland is a California attorney who focuses his practice on eDiscovery. Josh is the co-creator of The Legal Geeks, which has made the ABA Journal Top Blawg 100 Blawg for 2013 to 2016, and was nominated for Best Podcast for the 2015 Geekie Awards. Josh has presented at legal conferences and comic book conventions across the United States. He also ties a mean bow tie.