Star Wars Rebels: A New Legal System

Star Wars Rebels is a fantastic feeling of stepping back into Star Wars in 1977. Hats off for creating the same feeling of awe in discovering the Force, the view of a Tie Fighter Pilot in the cockpit, and Storm Troopers missing at point blank range. We even have Ezra yell, “It’s a trap!” Well done.

Rebel_Scum_AirStrike0715Rebels is an excellent look at the laws of the Empire.

Sure, the Imperials have a great sense of fashion, but it is a nightmarish legal system.

In the opening minutes of “Spark of the Rebellion,” we see a merchant farmer harassed by Imperial officers, because “all trade must be registered with the Empire.”

After being knocked to the ground, with an inspection officer eating some of the farmer’s fruit, the merchant is charged with treason.

A government has a very strong interest in regulating sales of food to ensure it is fit for human consumption and proper sales licenses. However, charging someone with treason for not filling out forms for street sales of fruit is nightmarish. At best this should be a county fine, not a firing squad by a militarized Department of Agriculture.

Our Rebel heroes stole blasters and other items from the Empire. This act would not just be grand theft, violate a ton of gun-related laws, but also terrorism in arming the residents of Tarken Town (who likely had they property taken in Eminent Domain proceedings without just compensation). However, the entire heist provides a huge look into the Empire’s law enforcement procedures.

The Empire does not use a police force, but its military to conduct law enforcement. While the Rebels did steal the crates from Storm Troopers, the responses to the theft was ordering an air strike to end a high speed chase. By way of comparison, police helicopters are not armed with air-to-surface missiles to fire on anyone fleeing from a crime scene.

Chewbacca_Defense_WookieesWe also learn the “Kessel Mines” are slave labor camps for political prisoners of the Empire. The fact there are slave labor camps for “traitors” makes the Empire sound a lot like Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, and every other totalitarian country. It is likely the Wookiees sent to Kessel were not tried for their “crimes” and merely sentenced administratively by the arresting officer (perhaps for indecent exposure). The Empire is a government without any sense of due process, because if there was, any good lawyer would defend those Wookiees with the Chewbacca Defense.

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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.