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Are Surviving Clone Troopers Guilty of War Crimes?

In the Star Wars Rebels episode The Lost Commanders, we learn that some clone troopers survived past the Clone Wars era and into the Galactic Empire era. Furthermore, during Star Wars Celebration 2017, Star Wars Rebels showrunner Dave Filoni hinted that the old man soldier featured in the Endor strike team in Return of the Jedi could be Rex. This got me thinking, if Rex could have survived into the rise of the New Republic, other clone troopers could have too. Although Rex, Wolffe, and Gregor were able to remove their inhibitor chips (hereafter chips) allowing them to disobey Order 66, many clones like Cody followed through with Order 66. If a clone like Cody survived into the New Republic era, could he be tried for the murders of the Jedi he executed through Order 66?

Rex (left), Gregor (center), and Wolffe (right).

In the Star Wars: The Clone Wars (hereafter The Clone Wars) episode Fugitive, Nala Se, a Kaminoan doctor, states that the chips inhibit aggression in the clones. However it is later revealed that the chips also had the ability to force the clones to comply with complete obedience to preprogrammed orders. The chips had almost a hypnotic effect as depicted in The Clone Wars episode Conspiracy, where the clone Tup, who has a defective chip that activated prematurely to Order 66, repeatedly mutters, “Good soldiers follow orders…” Later in the episode, Tup reacts to another Jedi master by going from a muddled mental state to crazily lunging at the Jedi Master. Tup’s actions were more like a compulsive reaction than a calculated decision. In events depicted in Revenge of the Sith, clones comply with Order 66 without any hesitation, gunning down Jedi Generals who had led them throughout the Clone Wars. The clones’ lack of any aggression in Revenge of the Sith may be a result of improved chip technology. However, Tup’s reaction revealed that the clones’ reaction to orders from the chip may be compulsive in nature.

Inhibitor chip

First, what kind of crimes would these clones be tried for? Technically, they were following the orders of the Supreme Chancellor Palpatine. In the Nuremberg and Eichmann cases, Nazi war criminals were tried for their war crimes, but many defended themselves by saying they were simply following orders. The Nuremberg and Eichmann cases are the closest historical examples we may use to analyze how the clones could be tried. In the Nuremberg and Eichmann trials, the defendants were tried under criminal liability and the defense presented the superior orders defense to show that the individual defendants did not have a “true moral choice” in respect to their actions. The Nuremberg and Eichmann trials focused on the actions and intent of individual defendants. In the Eichmann trial, the court found that Adolf Eichmann, a high ranking SS officer, unsuccessfully presented a “necessity” defense, because he had performed his orders “at all times con amore, that is with full zeal and devotion to the task.” Attorney General of Israel v. Eichmann, 16 Piske Din 2033 (1962) (Isr.) (hereafter Eichmann.)

Clone trooper Tup (right) moments before killing Jedi Master Tiplar (left) due to a malfunctioning inhibitor chip.

After applying these standards to clones, it appears that most clones would be able to successfully mount defenses against their crimes against the Jedi. Criminal law seeks to “punish individuals for acts for which they are morally culpable.” Ngyugen Thang Loi v. Dow Chem. Co. (In re Agent Orange Prod. Liab. Litig.), 373 F. Supp. 2d 7 (E.D.N.Y. 2005.) The clone troopers were unable to make a “moral” decision because the chips in their brains forced them to comply. Thus, the clones could not form any intent or make any moral choices in regards to their decision to execute their Jedi Generals. Instead, they were forced by an artificial compulsion to execute their Jedi superiors. In addition, in the Eichmann trial, the court used specific language stating that Adolf Eichmann performed his duties with “full zeal and devotion to the task.” (Eichmann, 1962.) Again, because the clones were following an almost compulsive and subconscious need to follow orders, it is unlikely that they were carrying out their orders with a similar “zeal and devotion.” (Ibid.)

A fervent defender of clones could also introduce a defense to show that the chips were akin to brain damage to the clones. In The Clone Wars episodes Conspiracy and Fugitive, AZI-3, the medical droid aiding Fives investigate Tup’s mysterious actions, first mistakes the chip as a tumor. The chip’s similarity to a tumor means that one could raise the defense that the chips acted as brain tumors which caused the clones to act murderously and irrationally.

Fives’ head after his inhibitor chip is removed.

In Brubaker v. Dickson (hereafter Brubaker), the court found that medical history of the defendant’s brain damage and medical analysis that the brain damage “was ‘of a type often associated with abnormal and otherwise unexplainable conduct’” was significant and remanded the case back down to the district court for further analysis of the significance of the brain damage. 310. F.2d 30, 33 (9th Cir. 1962.) The medical analysis also noted that the defendant was not “‘insane’ [but rather] had a compulsive personality marked by strong emotional instability.” (Ibid.) This defense is definitely something one could present when defending a clone trooper. The chips effectively acted as tumors or brain damage that caused the clones to perform “abnormal and otherwise unexplainable conduct.”

As a result, it appears that surviving clones should not fear being successfully prosecuted by any anti-Clone New Republic era prosecutors. Under our understanding of the legal standards of how war criminals are treated and how courts analyze brain damage, clones seem to be able to mount successful defenses against any charges against them.

Justice for Frankenstein’s Monster

The real monsters in the 1931 Universal classic Frankenstein are the twisted assistant Fritz who whipped the Monster and the angry lynch mob that burned the Monster alive. This was nothing but a revenge killing for the accidental death of Little Maria, who was negligently left alone by her father.  At its core, the classic film is a reanimated Pygmalion, where torturing a person turns him into a killer. Moreover, calling someone a “monster” can turn him or her into one. The question remains, what justice was there for Dr. Frankenstein’s Monster?

Henry Frankenstein brought the Monster to life, cobbled together from stolen bodies and an abnormal brain. The Monster first killed Fritz, who had tortured the Monster with fire and a whip. The next victim was Dr. Waldman, who drugged the Monster in self-defense, and was going to perform a dissection of the still living Monster to kill him. The final victim was Maria, a little girl who showed the Monster kindness. During a game where Maria and the Monster each threw flowers into the water to watch them float, the Monster threw Maria into the water as part of the game. Maria drowned and the Monster was horrified at the result of his actions.

The Monster acted in self-defense against the brutal torture by Fritz. Fritz antagonized the Monster with a torch and a whip. A reasonable person could subjectively believe their life was in danger if fire is shoved in their face. The Monster was tormented and acted to protect himself from fatal injury.

The Monster’s mental capacity was that of a child. It is highly possible the Monster did not understand the concept of death when he killed Fritz, thus did not fully appreciate the wrongfulness of his actions. The Monster clearly wanted the torture to stop and might not have understood he had killed Fritz, given the Monster attempted to keep Dr. Frankenstein and Dr. Waldman away from the hanging corpse.

Dr. Waldman was going to dissect the Monster in order to kill him. The Monster might not have understood the Doctor’s exact actions, but the motive was clear: kill the Monster. The Monster again acted in self-defense to preserve his own life.

Maria’s death was a reckless homicide. The Monster did not know throwing her into the water could result in her death, but a jury could find his actions were in the reckless disregard for her safety.

Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought. Cal. Penal Code § 187. The United States Supreme Court has held that children are constitutionally different from adults for the purposes of sentencing, because children have diminished culpability and greater prospects for reform. Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460, 471, 132 S. Ct. 2455, 2464 (2012) [citations omitted]. Children are still developing their character and are more vulnerable to negative influences. Id.

The same can be said of Frankenstein’s Monster. The “Monster” was only days old. To borrow from Dr. Frankenstein, the Monster had not yet lived. The Monster did not understand the world and needed to be taught how to live. This required giving him what any child needs, love, understanding, and compassion. The “Monster” was given none of those things, instead tormented by fire and ordered destroyed.

The real monsters in Frankenstein are the lynch mob that burned the Monster alive. Maria’s father carrying her corpse into town only inflamed rage. Law enforcement is supposed to uphold the public good, not fan the fires of revenge. The Burgermeister had no interest in following probable cause or affording the Monster the right to counsel or a fair trial. The soul purpose was to go out to kill the Monster to avenge the death of Maria. Only right can make right, which would have required a trial, so a person with limited mental capacity was not burned alive. The “justice” issued to the Monster was the equivalent of lynch mob hunting a four-year old with torches.

Anyone accused of a crime is entitled to due process of law. This even includes “monsters.” Civil societies do not executed children or those with diminished mental capacity. Those who decide they are the judge, jury, and executioner to exact death, are the real monsters in the world.

Roger Roger: Star Wars Autonomous Weapons & The Law

KILLER ROBOTS. The very mention of those soulless death machines conjures nightmares of Skynet becoming self-aware, Cylons on the warpath, or renegade Roy Batty. From Terminator to Battlestar Galactica, murderous automatons have woven their way into the public psyche, as has our fear that robots will take over the world and convert us all to batteries Matrix-style.

Star Wars admittedly lacks any single iconic killer robot (sorry, Darth Vader—you’re only part machine). Nevertheless, from battle droids to IG-88 or probe droids, the galaxy far far away is filled to the brim with autonomous weapon systems.

Despite their futuristic depiction in movies, automated weapon systems are nothing new in real world militaries. The U.S. military does not employ any fully autonomous weapon systems, but they’ve been using weapons with varying levels of autonomy for decades. For example, the Army’s Patriot missile system and the Navy’s close in weapon system (CIWS or “Sea-Whiz”), two semi-autonomous “man on the loop” weapon systems, have been in service for years.

Not exactly the T-1000, but remote Gatling guns and giant automated missiles will do.

The legality of autonomous weapon systems has become an increasingly important and controversial topic as technology has rapidly advanced. In 2015, Tesla founder Elon Musk and renowned scientist Stephen Hawking organized a coalition of 1,000 robotics experts who called for a ban on automated smart weapons. As the U.S. military’s arsenal continues to evolve, the lawfulness of increasingly automated weapons will remain a major issue on the international stage.

While the Galactic Empire has its fair share of automated weapons, we’ll keep our focus on the prequel era and the Separatist army’s droid legions. Before we tackle the legality of all those battle and destroyer droids, let’s take a step back and get some framework on the issue.

Watch your back, HAL 9000. The dreaded B-1 battle droid will haunt your dreams with its ruthless efficiency.

First, let’s figure out what the term “autonomous weapon system” means. There is no agreed upon international definition for the term, but the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) defines automated weapon systems as those that, when activated, are capable of selecting and engaging targets without further human intervention. In other words, although a human operator might have the ability to take control of the system, the system is capable of operating without any human involvement.

The Separatist Army’s legions of battle droids and other mechanical terrors clearly qualify as autonomous weapon systems. Take the mainstay of their forces, the trusty B-1 battle droid. While battle droids became slightly more advanced as the Clone Wars dragged on, they were always built to be capable of operating without further human (or Neimoidian if we’re going to be all technical about it) intervention.

Even in The Phantom Menace, when a single Trade Federation ship controlled the entire droid army, the droids themselves operated without any involvement from federation personnel. While the battle droids may have acted based on programming and Trade Federation orders, they were never directly controlled. Droids can be seen doing all sorts of independent tasks from guarding prisoners in the Theed Palace hangar to mounting a full assault on the Gungan army. The more advanced models, like the Commando Droids or Super Tactical Droids seen in The Clone Wars animated series, performed even more complicated tasks with total independence. Even though Separatist commanders retained the ability to shut down or override the droids, they still qualify as autonomous weapon systems.

Viceroy Gunray showcases the latest in autonomous laziness systems with his frivolous robot chair.

While the international community can’t agree on a definition for autonomous weapon systems, there is universal agreement that the law of armed conflict (LOAC) applies to them. To figure out whether a particular weapon is legal, we have to turn to the creatively named area of LOAC known as weapons law.

Weapons law focuses on the overall legality of the weapon, without regard to how it’s used. As an example, a poison like the Blue Shadow Virus in The Clone Wars, is deemed per se unlawful under LOAC, no matter what the intended use. Even if the Separatists wanted to use the virus against a lawful target, such as a group of clone troopers on patrol, it would still be illegal to use.

Whether autonomous or not, the legality of all weapons are determined by the same three distinct rules: (1) The weapon cannot cause unnecessary suffering or superfluous injury by nature; (2) The weapon cannot cause uncontrollable effects; (3) The weapon must not be indiscriminate by nature.

As humanity became increasingly good at creating horrible weapons, the outcry for rules that would reign in the suffering grew. The ban on weapons that cause unnecessary suffering was one of the earliest prohibitions codified in international law, first appearing in the 1899 Hague Convention. The rule, which is now woven into international law, is intended to ban weapons that, by their nature, aggravate a combatant’s wounds. A prime real world example is projectiles filled with glass, which cause major additional wounding. The glass fragments are then very difficult to remove because they cannot be seen on x-ray, which only compounds the suffering.

The very finest in terrible, horrible, no good Imperial weaponry. Grand Moff Tarkin would be so proud.

In Star Wars Rebels, the Empire’s dreaded T-7 ion disruptor rifles are a gruesome example of the sort of weapon that would be banned by this rule. T-7s were long rifles that would disintegrate organic beings atom by atom, leading to an excruciating death. While Boba Fett might fully approve of those effects, the T-7 disruptor is exactly the sort of weapon that would be banned in the real world. Coincidentally, the Galactic senate ultimately banned disruptors due to their terrible effects.

In contrast, the bulk of the Separatist Army would not violate this rule. Battle droids function like normal soldiers, armed with blasters and standard programming to engage and destroy the enemy. Even though those droids could theoretically be programmed or ordered to cause unnecessary suffering, they aren’t designed cause those effects. That distinction is critical because the rule focuses on the weapon system’s effect on a targeted individual, not the manner in which it is used. Any weapon system can be used in an illegal manner, but that doesn’t mean that the weapon itself is automatically illegal.

Second, weapons law prohibits the use of weapons that have uncontrollable effects, regardless of how accurately they can strike targets. Unfortunately for the Separatists, their prized Blue Shadow Virus gets the axe under this rule. While the virus might only be used against a lawful target like clone troopers, there’s no way to control its spread. Those same clones could easily infect civilians and other innocents, triggering an uncontrollable spread of the virus. However, Separatist automated droid forces don’t cause the same spiraling uncontrollable effects. Although swarms of droids were wielded to inflict devastating damage, their blasters, rocket launchers, and other conventional weaponry cause predictable damage with controllable effects. The droids’ automation doesn’t change that conclusion.

The Threepio-Battle Droid hybrid: An uncontrollable powder keg of murderous robot rage.

Finally, LOAC prohibits weapons that are indiscriminate by their very nature. Under Additional Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions, any means of combat that cannot be directed against a specific military objective is unlawful. In other words, if the weapon cannot be aimed at a lawful military target, it’s probably not legal. Though not autonomous, the Death Star, everyone’s favorite orbital war crime, is a perfect example of an illegal weapon that is indiscriminate in nature. The battle station was designed to destroy entire planets, which is probably the most black and white example of indiscriminate targeting ever (just ask the poor Alderaanians).

Separatist droid forces don’t run afoul of this rule. Battle droids were often made to kill indiscriminately throughout the Clone Wars, as we saw with their killing of Naboo civilians in The Phantom Menace. But just because they can be used in that manner doesn’t mean they are indiscriminate by their very nature. The droid forces aren’t pre-programmed to kill anyone they come into contact with. Similarly, they have the ability to aim their weapons (even if they happen to make Stormtroopers look like crack shots) and select their targets. Given their programming, the lack of individual control over the droids doesn’t render them indiscriminate weapon systems.

Just as with any conventional weapon, the legality of new autonomous weaponry must go through a legal review process. Under Article 36 of Additional Protocol I, High Contracting Parties such as the U.S. are required to determine whether the Geneva Conventions or international law would prohibit the new piece of weaponry. In practice, the U.S. conducts a complex and thorough weapons review process. The process starts early in the weapon’s development process and continues through production to ensure the weapon is legal. As we’ve seen, the fact that a weapon system is automated doesn’t control the analysis, but instead is merely one factor.

Count Dooku’s reaction after being told the Separatists must conduct legal reviews on all of their droid weapons.

I’m going to go out a limb and declare that the Separatists don’t have any mechanism for reviewing the legality of their weaponry. Their frequent loose adherence to the law of war strongly suggests that they’re not all too concerned with the opinions of galactic lawyers. Nevertheless, Viceroy Gunray can rest easy on his robot chair—while the Separatist droid hordes may be fully automated, they don’t run afoul of the law of armed conflict.

Could a Vulcan Adopt a Human Child?

Star Trek Discovery boldly went where Star Trek has only once gone before: interspecies adoption. Ambassador Savek was the legal guardian of Lieutenant Commander Michael Burnham. Would a court appoint a Vulcan to be the parent of a human child?

As a preliminary matter, an adult can adopt a minor who is not married. Cal. Fam. Code § 8600. Burnham’s parents were killed in a Klingon terror raid, thus making her an orphan as a child. Furthermore, a prospective adoptive parent cannot be discriminated against because of race, color, or national origin of the parent or child. See, Cal. Fam. Code § 8708. As such, a court prohibiting Savek from adopting Burnham would be discrimination based upon race and national origin because he was Vulcan.

The issue is raising a human child on Vulcan would be on whether it was in the best interest of the child. Courts will examine adoption petitioners in person and must be satisfied that the child’s best interests will be promoted by the adoption. Cal. Fam. Code § 8612(a) and (c). Moreover, the prospective adoptive parents must state in an agreement that the child will be treated as the adoptive parent’s lawful child. Cal. Fam. Code § 8612(b).

A court would have no problem finding that Ambassador Savek had the financial means, proper home, and ability to raise Burnham as an adopted daughter. However, any home with a Sehlat should raise concerns for having an animal with six inch fangs as a pet. Furthermore, a home with a the lack of any emotional support would arguably go against placing a human child with the trauma of her parents’ death in a Vulcan home. However, as Savek was married to the human Amanda, a court could find that Burnham would have a home that provided a strong academic setting and emotional support for a healthy upbringing. Vulcan hopefully had counseling professionals who could help Burnham with the trauma of a terror attack.

If that is what a court found, it arguably did not happen. Burnhman’s showed extremely little humanity when Savek brought her to the USS Shenzhou. It appears Amanda had a non-existent impact on Burnham’s personal development. Furthermore, Savek’s intent with Burnham serving onboard the Shenzhou was to re-introduce her to humans. After seven years on a Federation starship, Burnhman became unstable under threat from Klingons, assaulted her captain, and attempted a mutiny. While Savek adopting Burnham was legal, it arguably was not in Burnham’s best interests, as her emotional response to a death resulted in her abandoning her own plan to capture the Klingon T’Kuvma and instead kill him. A non-Vulcan upbringing could have given Burnham the emotional tools necessary to not start a protracted war because of a revenge killing.

Xavier’s Ailing Mind: A Study Into Intent

Introduction

“As I live and breathe, the Wolverine!”

The movie “Logan” has already had a number of articles on this site devoted to it. After watching it a second time I realized someone could easily fill a book with the legal analysis of this movie. One of the biggest legal questions to me however is what, if anything would Charles Xavier be guilty of after the Westchester incident. This article will examine laws in the state of New York as well as some federal law.

In the movie the audience is given snippets of something referred to as the “Westchester Incident” this is when Charles has a seizure which causes his psychic abilities to lash out and paralyze anyone within close proximity to him. In his first attack he injured over 600 people and kills seven mutants, though unmentioned this is believed to be the X-Men.

Intent

Causing the death of anyone in the United States causes the court to examine the situation surrounding these events and determine intent. In New York Murder in the first degree has such a requirement (PEN § 125.27 Murder in the first degree). This aspect of intent is also present in second degree and aggravated murder. A seizure caused the death and injury there has no aspect of intent as such this eliminates every class of murder under the New York penal code. Further a defense of mental disease or defect is a defense to all classes of murder as well.

Mental Disease or Defect

Mental Disease or Defect Under New York Penal Code (New York Penal § 40.15 – Mental Disease or Defect) the defense of Mental Disease or Defect is what is known as an affirmative defense. The defendant is saying “yes, I did this act but there is a reason that I should not be held accountable for that.” The prosecution then no longer must prove that the defendant committed the crime but they were not suffering from a mental disease or defect. The most common example being an “Insanity” plea. Charles would undergo both mental and physical examinations and it would show that he did suffer from seizures and when the seizures happened his powers would lash out in destructive manner.

Manslaughter

Without intent there can be no murder but could it be manslaughter? Under New York Penal code (PEN § 125.15 Manslaughter in the first degree) there is also a matter of intent. The actions of the person charged must have been of a negligent or intended act that will normally cause harm but not kill. Once again, because the act was of mental disease or defect he is not guilty of manslaughter.

Criminally Negligent Homicide

New York has another offense that may fit. Criminally Negligent homicide lacks the intent requirement of the aforementioned crimes. For this charge to stand the prosecution would have to prove the incident was caused by Xavier’s negligence and normal use of such would have the expectant result of damage. Thinking does not normally result in damage to others and even in a powerful mind such as Xavier’s the usual result is communication not paralysis and death. From the films and comic books we know Xavier does not have a history of seizures so the court would likely find that because he had no prior history he could not be criminally negligent.

Weapons of Mass Destruction

Weapon of Mass Destruction We learn that Charles Xavier’s brain is considered a weapon of mass destruction by the HSI. The HSI is the investigative branch of the Department of Homeland Security. Under Federal Law a weapon of mass destruction is defined as:

(2) the term “weapon of mass destruction” means—
(A) any destructive device as defined in section 921 of this title;
(B) any weapon that is designed or intended to cause death or serious bodily injury through the release, dissemination, or impact of toxic or poisonous chemicals, or their precursors;
(C) any weapon involving a biological agent, toxin, or vector (as those terms are defined in section 178 of this title); or
(D) any weapon that is designed to release radiation or radioactivity at a level dangerous to human life;

This is a federal offense under Use of a weapon of mass destruction (18 U.S. Code § 2332a).
Section 921 lists explosive devices and section 178 lists many toxins such as animal venom and poison. Under the federal code Charles Xavier could not be charged with use of a weapon of mass destruction because a human being cannot be defined as a weapon of mass destruction. The incident however could lead to a new addendum adding a mutant component to the definition which would mean any time Xavier used his powers he was committing this federal offense. Without knowledge of any changes to the law in X-Men universe we must consider this akin to a suspect being considered armed and dangerous. This effect has no true legal recourse however it tells any authority to approach with caution as well as increasing the priority of answering such a call.
Civil Remedies

Could the victims and families of the victims gain any level of compensation for the incident? Here there is some possibility though when comparing having a seizure to other potentially hazardous activities such as driving we find that the court is reluctant to rule against those that have suffered a seizure if there is no history of them. However due to the power of Xavier’s mind those victims could potentially win damages in a court setting. This is entirely due to the standard of proof going from beyond a reasonable doubt to on the preponderance of evidence.
So it looks like Xavier would be free and clear as long as he maintains his medication regimen and keeps his doctor’s appointments… or is it?

Typhoid Mary

If you are not familiar with the story of Mary Mallon, who later became known as Typhoid Mary, this was the first known case of an asymptomatic carrier of the virus that causes typhoid fever. However, she was the cause of at least six deaths in New York in the 1920’s because she worked as a cook. Though she was not subject to criminal prosecution she was medically quarantined twice for a period of 26 years until she died. It is not clear under what authority the state of New York had to quarantine Ms. Mallon though. How does this have anything to do with Xavier?

Doctors could rule that Xavier is a threat to the public health and be placed under medical quarantine because of this. Under modern medical practices this could be done through psychological commitment. In a way Logan did exactly what the authorities of New York would have been able to do had they captured him.

Conclusion

Though legally Xavier likely would not have been found guilty of any crime he could have faced potential damages in lawsuits and possible quarantine or psychological commitment. The important acts of intent and negligence are absent, despite his innocence on a legal basis he is punished by his knowledge that it happened because of him and he feels responsible.

Product Liability Litigation for Defective Stormtrooper Armor

The Empire’s Stormtroopers are emissaries of fear to subjugate civilian populations. However, Stormtrooper armor appears to have multiple fatal flaws for surviving blunt force trauma from melee weapons, arrows, and rocks.

Attackers with sticks incapacitated Stormtroopers on Jedha and Endor with blows to the head. Stromtrooper armor also was ineffective against primitive arrows.

Stromtrooper associations could sue the manufactures of body armor for defective design and possibly breach of warranty and fraud. In cases where fiber was sold to weaving companies who manufactured ballistic fabric, the ultimate manufactures of bullet proof vests were sued for body armor that had a 58% failure rate against bullets. See, First Choice Armor & Equip., Inc. v. Toyobo Am., Inc., 839 F. Supp. 2d 407 (D. Mass. 2012). Numerous police officer associations and local governments sued for design defect, breach of warrant, and fraud. See, S. States Police Benevolent Ass’n v. First Choice Armor & Equip., Inc., 241 F.R.D. 85 (D. Mass. 2007).

Imperial body armor appears in multiple divisions, with the main Stromtroopers wearing white armor. There are other armors that are similar in design, but with different colors for specialty of mission or deployment. These include, but are not limited to, the Death Troopers assigned to Director Krennic and Grand Admiral Thrawn; Scarif Stromtroopers; Cold Assault Stromtroopers seen at the Battle of Hoth; and Scout Troopers, seen at the Battle of Endor.

The Stormtroopers who were subdued with melee weapons on Jedha and Endor were the main line serving Stormtroopers. Scout Troopers were also pacified on Endor by Ewoks.

Stormtroopers suing for defective body armor would need to prove: that the armor did not perform as expected when used as intended; that the Stormtroopers were harmed; and the failure of the body armor to perform was a substantial factor in causing the Stormtroopers harm.

Head Injuries

Stormtroopers on Jedha and Scarif suffered head injuries with the walking stick used by Chirrut Imwe as a blunt force weapon. Stromtroopers and Scout Troopers on Endor also suffered head injuries from predatory Ewoks with rock axes.

If Stormtrooper helmets were supposed to prevent concussions from head injuries, the helmets clearly failed. These failures to protect Troopers from concussions were moments that ultimately resulted in the destruction of TWO Death Stars. If Imwe had not rescued Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor, the original Death Star plans would have never been stolen and provided to Rebels. Moreover, if carnivorous Ewoks with primitive axes had not overrun Stormtroopers on Endor, the Empire itself would not have fallen.

The issue on manufacturer liability would be whether Stormtrooper helmets were supposed to protect the wearer’s head from blunt force trauma. If the helmets were for communications, air filtration, and data management, then the intended use of the helmets were not for protection from concussive injuries. That being said, the armor is supposed to protect Stormtroopers from projectile weapons. Why does it fail when the wearer is hit with a stick?

Different Versions of Armor

The armor worn by Death Troopers, Scarif Stromtroopers, and Hovertank Pilots, all have similar armor that appears different in color and helmet design. Cold Assault Stromtrooper armor is the most dissimilar to other Stormtrooper armor.

There is no evidence of any of these armors failing to protect Troopers from blunt force trauma from melee weapons. However, these Troopers could sue the armor manufacturer under specific conditions. If same ballistic fabric and armor plating was used in all Imperial body armor, the Stormtroopers severing in different deployments could join in a potential class action. Additionally, if the Imperial armor manufacturer had the same warranty printed on each type of armor, then all could join in a prospective class action.

The Doctrine of Fear

The Empire’s concept of governance was through fear. Whether it was fear of the Emperor, fear of Darth Vader force choking an admiral, or fear from destroying civilian targets, the Empire ruled by terrifying others. Moreover, Imperials showed little regard for their own service members. Governor Tarkin ordered the destruction of the base on Scarif, instead of sending Stromtroopers and Tie Fighters to destroy the Alliance Fleet and ground forces. Given the low level regard for life, it is highly likely that Stormtrooper armor was not designed to protect the lives of Troopers, but to instill fear in the civilian population.

The Crimes Committed Stealing Elektra’s Dead Body

The Hand is an ancient criminal organization that committed a primeval crime by exhuming the body of Elektra Natchios: Body Stealing.

The Hand exhumed the deceased body of Elektra Natchios from her grave at the end of Daredevil season 2 and expounded upon those events in The Defenders episode “Worst Behavior.” This was done without any legal authority. Under New York law, anyone who opens a grave with the intent to remove the body is guilt of a class D felony. N.Y. Pub. Health Law § 4218. The members of the Hand who opened the grave clearly violated this New York law.

Anyone who removes a body with the intent to collect a reward or for malice is guilty of “body stealing,” also a class D felony. N.Y. Pub. Health Law § 4216. The fact members of the Hand exhumed the body was done so for either a reward from Alexandra, arguably the Thumb for the Hand. Alternatively, exhuming the body with the intent of resurrecting Elektra to be the Black Sky would qualify as malice.

Alexandra receiving the dead body of Elektra would be a misdemeanor. N.Y. Pub. Health Law § 4217.

The law does not account for criminal conspiracies using a mystical substance to bring the dead back to life. The Hand arguably participated in an unauthorized autopsy with their black magic, but damages are hard to determine since the deceased returned to life. Perhaps if Matt Murdock or Stick had power of attorney over Elektra, they could sue for wrongful life for all of the mayhem caused by Elektra as the Black Sky.