Impersonating a State Leader in Doctor Who Enemy of the World

Tessa_SecondDoctorTeam_9689Raise your sonic screwdrivers and raise them high!

Doctor Who fans around the world are absolutely gleeful to have two classic Second Doctor stories found from the abyss of time. It is literally “new” old Doctor Who.

Enemy of the World takes place before December 31, 2018. The Second Doctor finds out he looks exactly like a would be global dictator named Salamander.

Patrick Troughton showed his acting chops playing both the hero and villain.

The Doctor is asked whether he was a doctor of law after saying he was not a medical doctor. The answer: Which Law?

The story poses a legal issue of the Doctor impersonating Salamander. What happens when someone impersonates a state leader?

As for which laws, I will focus on the United States:

Whoever falsely assumes or pretends to be an officer or employee acting under the authority of the United States or any department, agency or officer thereof, and acts as such, or in such pretended character demands or obtains any money, paper, document, or thing of value, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

18 USCS § 912

Lisa_Team4thDoctor_1557Statutes forbidding impersonation may require a showing that someone was deceived into following a “course [of action] he would not have pursued but for the deceitful conduct.” United States v. Alvarez, 132 S. Ct. 2537, 2554 (U.S. 2012), citing United States v. Lepowitch, 318 U.S. 702, 704, 63 S. Ct. 914, 87 L. Ed. 1091 (1943).

In episodes one and two of Enemy of the World, the Doctor impersonates Salamander.

The Doctor was successful in convincing Salamander’s security officer that he was Salamander. But for the Doctor’s conduct, the security officer would have taken a different course of action in carrying out his orders. If Salamander had been a US President, the Doctor would have broken the law.

Luckily, Salamander was not a US official, but a very mean man with dreams of global domination. That being said, I do not recommend ever to impersonate a world leader, especially a crazy one with dreams of conquest.

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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.