A Doctor on Doctor Strange’s Hippocratic Oath

Doctor Strange “The Oath” is a mystical adventure focused on the Hippocratic Oath. Dr. Raja Chatterjee is a doctor in Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine, and a Naval Officer. Dr. Chatterjee is also a lifelong geek.

Join Dr. Chatterjee and I as we discuss Doctor Strange “The Oath,” and the different oaths of professionalism doctors take in their careers, from the Hippocratic to Maimonides to Geneva.

We are very pleased to announce our first contest with a t-shirt promo code certificate from Red Chapter Clothing. I met the Red Chapter team at San Diego Comic Con (and bought four of their shirts). Red Chapter has awesome Marvel licensed shirts AND their shirts sold at both Disneyland and Disney World. We are thrilled to have them sponsoring $25 gift certificate codes as prizes.

Here are the rules: the first person to correctly answer the Doctor Strange trivia question will win the gift code. You can enter your answer on the below form.

Professor X’s Notice and Choice Privacy Dilemma

Professor X, the founder and leader of the X-Men, is one of the most powerful mutants on the planet. His psionic powers include telepathy and the ability to identify other nearby mutants. With his powers enhanced by Cerbero, Professor X identifies mutants to attract them to attend the Xavier School of Gifted Youngsters. Professor X’s ultimate goal? Peaceful co-existence between mutants and humankind, a co-existence based on trust and understanding. While his goals benevolent, his methods and their disrespect for basic privacy principles serve to undermine his entire mission.

What exactly are the issues standing in his way and how can the Professor seek to address them to further his mission? To dig into this question, first a quick primer on privacy law.

What is Personal Data?

Privacy law protects “personal data”, generally defined as any information that identifies an individual or relates to an identifiable individual. Many countries define certain categories of personal data more sensitive than others. For example, these “sensitive” categories of personal data can include: “racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, trade-union membership, and the processing of data concerning health or sex life,” (EU Data Protection Directive, Article 8) as well as biometric, genetic or criminal records.

Privacy Law and the Fair Information Practices Principles.

While the philosophical rationale for privacy law varies by jurisdiction, (e.g. EU law designates privacy as a “fundamental human right” and the U.S. law focuses protecting individuals from the “harm” caused by the mishandling of personal data), in reality, privacy law and practices rely on the same underlying principles known as the “Fair Information Practices Principles” (FIPPs) developed by the Organization for Economic Community Development over 30 years ago. (OECD Privacy Guidelines and updated in 2013) The FIPPs provide that when a person/entity collects personal data, that it should ensure that the individual has:

  • Notice. of how her personal data is being collected and used and with whom it is shared.
  • Consent. to how her personal data is used, especially if the proposed personal data uses are not readily understood by the individual or if the data are sensitive. and
  • Access. to understand what personal data has been collected and make corrections to such personal data.

A person/entity collecting personal data must further adhere to principles of: (i) minimization collecting and keeping, only what is truly needed; (ii) quality/accuracy ensuring data is accurate; (iii) security keeping data secure; (iv) destruction, when data is no longer needed, destroying it securely; and (v) assurance/accountability make certain you’re actually practicing what you preach.

In my years of reading X-Men comic books and watching X-Men films, I don’t ever recall Professor X alone, or in his use of Cerebro, following these principles. Let’s delve a little deeper into the Professor’s practices and how he could improve. 

Privacy and Professor X

Professor X has the natural ability to scan his surroundings to identify mutants and read the thoughts of mutants and non-mutants alike. However, if you walked by the Professor in real life, would you recognize Professor X as someone with psychic powers? Even if you saw him with his mutant protégés (e.g. Angel with his wings or the blue haired Beast), you’d more likely think that the Professor was just your average mutant-positive human with some really cool friends.

The Central Park Scenario

Clearly, the Professor has a problem with notice and consent, two key privacy principles. Let’s assume the Professor is traveling through Central Park to find recruits for the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters. As he scans the crowds of mutants and non-mutants alike, he’s collecting personal data and “sensitive” personal data (e.g. whether or not you were homo-sapien or homo-superior and the nature of your mutant power). However, humans and mutants would neither be aware of nor do they consent to such searches or the collection of information about them. Further, he’s gathering information from thousands of individuals to find that one proverbial needle in a hay stack. Finally, what about the mutant that just wants to be left alone. Just because the Professor can identify mutants, should he?

If the Professor wanted to adhere to privacy principles, what could he do? The simplest thing he could is stop scanning people without notice and consent. This might make his mutant hunts of Central Park a little impracticable, but at least he wouldn’t be violating people’s/mutant’s privacy.

Conducting scans in Central Park would be difficult due to the nature of the “genetic” trait information the Professor collected. Collection of such information would require explicit “opt-in” consent. If he wanted to do scans of individuals in Central Park, he could do so by posting clear notices at the park’s perimeter informing persons entering the park that psychic scans are being performed and if an individual wanted to ‘consent’, that individual would just have to “think” the words “I consent”. Upon receiving such a signal, the Professor could hone in on that individual’s thoughts and scan accordingly. This would be most effective because those individuals who either didn’t see the signs or did not otherwise take affirmative action to consent would not be scanned.

What if an individual initially consented and subsequently changed her mind and wanted to “opt-out” or unconsent? As a privacy principles go, revoking consent needs to be just as easy as giving consent. Thus in this case, the individual who initially thought “I consent” could merely think “I withdraw” to “opt-out” of subsequent scans.

The above approach is better than that described in the X-Men books, which present Magneto’s helmet as an “opt-out” option instead of an “opt-in.” When Magneto wears the helmet, the Professor cannot scan or locate him, but the opposite is true when he removes the helmet. Of course, the problem with the helmet is that it must be worn at all times which makes the opt-out onerous to say the least. Plus it requires the individual to take affirmative actions to “opt-out”, contrary to the obligations to obtain explicit consent when collecting sensitive personal data. One can only imagine the case of “helmet hair” Magneto has, especially if he can’t take the helmet off in the shower. The other more troubling aspect is that the Professor and his protégés have an awfully hard time respecting Magneto’s choice when they try to remove Magneto’s helmet against his will – that would hardly be consistent with allowing individuals to express freely given consent – a requirement under nearly every privacy law. Finally, it is also unreasonable for us normal folk to be expected to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars to create the equivalent of a tin foil hat and bucking against fashion and insisting that wearing psychic blocking helmets is “cool.”

Reaching the Mass Audience

Professor X might have to consider going the old school advertising route through online or television advertising. In this classic archived TV commercial from the ’80s, he’s clearly thought about this.

While this was a great attempt to attract those individuals who are truly interested in applying to the school minimizing the data collected, the Professor’s attempts fail again, because this commercial does not disclose that by calling the phone number you’re consenting to a scan of your homo-superior nature as part of the process. Consent can never be valid if you don’t know to what you are consenting. In fact, you’re more likely just get a simple rejection card in the mail.

To scan this poor uninteresting human, the Professor most certainly used Cerebro to amplify his mutant sensing abilities. Cerebro merely amplifies the Professor’s privacy dilemma. Was Cerebro designed with privacy principles in mind and in particular is Cerebro secure? It doesn’t take a mutant to recognize that creating a system that enables two-way psychic connections could be a security problem if the mutant connected at the other end has bad intentions.

Clearly, Cerebro is not really too secure. Seriously, your only option is to destroy Cerebro when a bad connection is made? How about making it “one way” only or a simple on/off switch? A little bit of advanced planning could have avoided some serious drama and uncalled for (alleged) casualties (yes, I’m calling out you Havoc! Show yourself!). Unlike the Professor, not all of us have a small band of mutants who can rebuild a mansion with a little bit of mental effort.

Where Mutants and the Real World Meet

You might think these issues of psychic or behavioral monitoring only exist in the world of comics, but even in today’s primitive, non-super hero world, such issues exist. When you walk around in a retail store today with your smartphone and wifi on, the retailer is often able to gather information about the parts of the store in which you walk and linger or the displays that attract your attention. Unlike Professor X, these systems gather only non-sensitive information about devices and stores are not tracking whether or not you’re a mutant menace trying to flex your homo-superior muscle, instead they use this information to try to better understand the flow of their stores to make them more efficient, more appealing and inviting to their customers. Retailers realize their customer relationships rely on trust and that technologies gathering information might raise concerns, so they’re working on ways to provide notice to individuals when their stores are using such technologies in an effort to both provide notice and choice. You can find an example of these efforts with organizations like the Future of Privacy Forum (www.fpf.org) and their smart places initiative at www.smart-places.org.

Perhaps Professor X could take a page from their book.

A Postscript

A final reminder that privacy principles and laws, just like the relationship of mutant kind to the Marvel universe continues to evolve. However, privacy principles and their protection of personal data will always engender the same basic goals that Professor X wants for mutant kind, those of understanding, fairness and not allowing the qualities that make all of us be gathered and used without our knowledge or to our detriment. So next time Professor X fires up Cerebro, he should ask himself, “Am I truly respecting humans in the way I want them to respect me?” This is a question applies as much to the real world of privacy as it does in the comic books.

Special thanks to the Legal Geeks, Jules Polenetsky, CEO of the Future of Privacy Forum (fpf.org) and Miriam Wugmeister, Partner at the law firm of Morrison & Foerster (mofo.com) for their willingness to review my geeky musings.

San Francisco Comic Con Schedule for The Legal Geeks

We hope you can join us at San Francisco Comic Con, September 2 to 4, 2016! We have five panels that cover Star Trek, Daredevil/Jessica Jones (both Saturday and Sunday), Star Wars, and Agents of SHIELD/Agent Carter/Captain America. We are extremely honored to participate in the first SFCC. Check out our schedule below.

Friday

STAR TREK: NOT EVERY CASE IS THE KOBAYASHI MARU

7:30pm – 8:30pm | Pacific H

The world of Star Trek has presented legal issues in infinite diversity in infinite combinations. Join the away team to discovery the new world of assumption of risk for Red Shirts, whether Tribbles are an invasive species, or if Scotty argue the insanity defense for being possessed by Jack the Ripper, and more from every Generation of Star Trek.

Panelists: Angela Story and Joshua Gilliland

Saturday

BLIND JUSTICE ON THE ROCKS: THE LAW OF DAREDEVIL AND JESSICA JONES

11:30am – 12:30pm | Pacific J

Marvel’s Daredevil and Jessica Jones both focus on lawyers and the practice of law, from Matt Murdock’s creative pro bono community service to Jessica Jones serving a summons. Join us to determine if Karen Page properly acted in self-defense, whether Matt Murdock or Jeri Hogath is most likely to be disbarred, and how the insanity defense applies to those under mind control. Join us when court is in session.

Panelists: Neel Chatterjee and Joshua Gilliland

THE LAW AWAKENS: STAR WARS LAW
4:00pm – 5:00pm | Pacific H

Star Wars is more than a space opera, it is an adventure in the law! Was Han Legally Justified to Shoot First? Did Kylo Ren commit desecration of Anakin Skywalker’s corpse? What are the employee safety issues in Jabba’s Palace? Did Poe lose his ownership rights to BB-8? Could someone be prosecuted for torturing a Droid? Join us to know the ways of the law.

Panelists: Megan Hitchcock and Joshua Gilliland

Sunday

LEGAL DAREDEVILS: MATT MURDOCK, JESSICA JONES, AND FRANK CASTLE

11:30am – 12:30pm | Pacific A

Marvel’s Daredevil and Jessica Jones both focus on lawyers and the practice of law, from Matt Murdock’s creative pro bono community service to Jessica Jones serving a summons. Join us to determine if Karen Page properly acted in self-defense, whether Matt Murdock or Jeri Hogath is most likely to be disbarred, and how the insanity defense applies to those under mind control. Join us when court is in session.

Panelists: Christine Peek and Joshua Gilliland

CIVIL WAR TO CIVIL RIGHTS: THE LAW OF THE MCU

2:30pm – 3:30pm | Pacific A

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a world where SHIELD conducts global surveillance with every cell phone camera on Earth without a search warrant, Inhumans are held in suspended animation without a trial, and Captain America stopped the mass assassination of millions of Americans. Our panel will explore the Constitutional issues that include wiretaps, search warrants, and Civil Rights from Captain America Civil War, Captain America The Winter Soldier, Agents of SHIELD, Avengers Age of Ultron, Agent Carter, and more.

Panelists: Sylvia La Rosa and Joshua Gilliland

It’s a Kind of Magic: Doctor Strange’s Oath

Doctor Strange “The Oath” is a mystical adventure focused on one mission: Save Wong’s life from cancer. Did Doctor Stephen Strange meet his legal duties as a licensed physician? Did Strange violate his duty of confidentiality to Wong by telling the Night Nurse of his condition? What about imprisoning Brigand in his own mind? It is time to join the Doctor for legal rounds.

You Can Do Magic: Duty of Physicians in New York State

Doctor Stephen Strange is a licensed physician in New York. State laws defines that the practice of medicine is the “diagnosing, treating, operating or prescribing for any human disease, pain, injury, deformity or physical condition.” N.Y. Educ. Law § 6521 (Consol.). In order to be a physician, state law requires that physicians have earned a degree of doctor of medicine (M.D.); have gained experience; passed an examination board; and be at least 21-years old. See, N.Y. Educ. Law § 6524 (Consol.). Only someone licensed in New York can use the title “physician.” N.Y. Educ. Law § 6522 (Consol.).

Doctor Strange clearly engaged in the “diagnosing, treating, operating or prescribing for any human disease, pain, injury, deformity or physical condition” of Wong. Granted, most doctors do not have trans-dimensional battles to find a cure for cancer. In the story, Strange defeats a psychedelic beast for Otkid’s Elixar, which has the power to “erase what troubles the mind of man.”

The “Oath” is not about any mystical oath Doctor Strange took, but the “Hippocratic Oath.” The modern version of the Oath is available on John Hopkins Sheridan Libraries & University Museums:

I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:

I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.

I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures which are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.

I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.

I will not be ashamed to say “I know not,” nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient’s recovery.

I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.

I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.

I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.

I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.

If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help. 

Doctor Strange met the requirements within in the Oath to take “all measures which are required,” in order to find a cure for Wong. Furthermore, Doctor Strange sought to uphold his “with special obligations to all my fellow human beings,” by recognizing the importance of the Otkid’s Elixar.

Stephen Strange was right to have the Elixar tested before administering it to Wong. It is professional misconduct to practice medicine with “gross negligence on a particular occasion or negligence or incompetence on more than one occasion.” N.Y. Educ. Law § 6509 (Consol.). Case law has found that administering drugs inappropriately and without adequate testing, coupled with other wrongdoing on multiple occasions, was grounds to find a doctor had acted negligently, grossly negligent, grossly incompetent, and engaged in unprofessional conduct. Prokopiw v Commissioner of Education, 1989 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 5016 (N.Y. App. Div. 3d Dep’t 1989), app. dismissed, 1990 N.Y. LEXIS 118 (N.Y. 1990).

Secret World: The Duty of Confidentiality

Doctor Strange told the Night Nurse that Wong had cancer in explaining how he (Strange) had been shot. Wong had stated he could not donate blood due to his “situation” and also that their troubles began because of his disease. This is problematic, because while both Doctor Strange and the Night Nurse were doctors, Strange was the Night Nurse’s patient and Wong was Doctor Strange’s patient.

DoctorStrange_Breach_Confidentiality

Medical professionals are not to “disclose any information which he acquired in attending a patient in a professional capacity, and which was necessary to enable him to act in that capacity.” N.Y. C.P.L.R. Law § 4504. The patient can waive this right. Id.

Wong arguably waived the doctor-patient privilege when he mentioned both his “condition” and “disease” in front of the Night Nurse. Wong also had to lay down in the operating room. The Night Nurse could rationally believe that she had two patients to care for based on Wong’s conduct. However, an express waiver would make this issue easier to resolve.

Strange Magic: Don’t Tick Off the Sorcerer Supreme

Brigand robbed Doctor Strange of Otkid’s Elixar and shot him with the handgun Hitler used to commit suicide. Doctor Strange, the Night Nurse, and Wong eventually captured Brigand. Strange interrogated Brigand by physically entering Brigand’s mind through the collective consciousness of humanity. Brigand eventually gave Strange the information Strange needed to find who hired Brigand. Due to evidence against Brigand being mystically covered, Doctor Strange physically imprisoned Brigand within his own mind.

Doctor Strange imprisoning Brigand would be a case of first impression for unlawful imprisonment. It could also be grounds for Doctor Strange to lose his medical license. New York states that it is professional misconduct if a physician is convicted of a crime under New York, Federal law, or the laws of another jurisdiction that would also be a crime in New York. N.Y. Educ. Law § 6509.

New York defines unlawful imprisonment in the first degree if he “restrains another person under circumstances which expose the latter to a risk of serious physical injury.” N.Y. Penal Law § 135.10 (Consol.).

Physically imprisoning Brigand within his own mind arguably would expose him to “serious physical injury.” Brigand’s mind could be described as “freaky” and not in a fun way. Moreover, Brigand’s own subconscious could pose a danger to himself, ranging from madness to physical injury.

The fact the evidence against Brigand would be problematic should not give Doctor Strange license to act as a judge. The good Doctor should show more respect for “the laws of man,” as it is those laws that gave Doctor Strange his medical license.

This Magic Moment

Attorneys and doctors are professions dedicated to helping others. Both doctors and lawyers have “practices” where they are entrusted with helping others.

For attorneys, that help comes in the form of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” For doctors, it is the health of their patient.

“The Oath” is an excellent Doctor Strange adventure that connects the dedication of doctors to help their patients and the surreal world of the Sorcerer Supreme.

Daredevil Cannot Change Venue from New York to Texas

Charles Soule is hitting the bullseye with the Daredevil/Punisher “Seventh Circle” limited series. The premise is simple: get a defendant to the airport alive so he can stand trial. The story is a classic tale of due process of law verse vigilantism.

The story is awesome; however, the legal justification to fly a New York defendant to Texas is flawed. “Seventh Circle” begins with a New York State defendant named Sergey Antonov being taken to the airport to be tried in Texas. New York State Prosecutor Matt Murdock told Antonov the change of venue was needed because “too many people here hate you.” Daredevil/Punisher, issue 1.

New York State would NOT transfer an accused person to be tried in Texas. New York law allows for a change of venue in order for a Defendant to have a fair trial to another county in New York State, not another state. N.Y. Crim. Proc. Law § 230.20.

Daredevil/Punisher got it right that Matt Murdock could bring the motion to change the venue of the trial, because the State or the Defendant can bring a motion if there is good cause. Id. Proving good cause because “everyone hates” the Defendant is another matter.

The usual way to ensure a fair trial is with jury voir dire. People v. Boudin (App.Div. 1982) 457 N.Y.S.2d 302, 305. The purpose of asking the potential jurors questions is to root out prejudice. If there was a prospective juror who was a victim of organized crime, or someone who had immediate family in law enforcement, for the trial of a mob boss, those could be valid reasons to thank a juror for their service and excuse them.

Daredevil_Change_of_Venue_New_York_6369

One case that had a change of venue had 76 news articles appear about the case in a 50-day period. People v. Boudin (App.Div. 1982) 457 N.Y.S.2d 302, 305-306. There were thirty-two front-page stories with more than 50 photos. Id. The local paper that featured the stories was ready by 2/3 of the households in that county. Id.

One Court explained how a tidal wave of press could justify a change of venue:

A criminal defendant has the right to a fair trial, and a trial that is not dominated by a “wave of public passion” that is not overwhelmed by press coverage and that is not conducted in a “carnival atmosphere.” Removal of an action pursuant to CPL 230.20 (2), or “change of venue” is a means of preventing this type of unfairness.

People v. Boss (App.Div. 1999) 701 N.Y.S.2d 342, 343-345, citing Irvin v Dowd, 366 US 717, 728, Murphy v Florida, 421 US 794, 798, and Sheppard v Maxwell, 384 US 333, 358.

“Seventh Circle” is silent on why “people hate” the Defendant, besides being evil and poisoning an opposing mob family’s Christmas dinner. Other cases that have found exceptional circumstances for a change of venue have included:

1) Repeated television broadcasts of lengthy interview of defendant in which he admitted the commission of the charged murder;

2) Widespread publication of court’s ruling on suppression motion with detailed rendition of testimony adduced at pretrial hearing;

3) Television broadcast of defendant’s re-enactment of the crime; and

4) Television broadcast of damaging interviews with defendant permitted by police.

Boudin, at * 305, citing Rideau v Louisiana, 373 U.S. 723, People v Marturano, 24 AD2d 733, People v Luedecke, 22 AD2d 636, and People v Martin, 19 NY2d 864.

It is extremely possible that a high profile organized crime case with extensive press coverage could warrant a transfer of venue. Moreover, we do not know if the fictional Court tried empanelling a jury, only to have it fail. Regardless, even if there was good cause, the State of New York would not have a case tried in Texas.

The change of venue aside, “Seventh Circle” is a fantastic adventure with Daredevil and Punisher. Matt Murdock is the prosecutor dedicated to a defendant having a fair trial. Frank Castle is the killing machine Hell bent on murdering a defendant. The artwork is great and the story solid. My compliments to the creative team for a great Daredevil/Punisher story.

Did the Jury in Civil War 2 Nullify the Murder Charges Against Hawkeye?

Hawkeye murdered the Hulk in Civil War 2 issue 3. Issue 4 opens with a jury verdict in Federal Court of “Not Guilty.” Was justice really served on Hawkeye? Did the jury acquit Clint Barton because the Hulk has destroyed more property than perhaps any “hero” in the Marvel Universe? Tune in for my thoughts on the Trial of Hawkeye.

Comic Con The Final Frontier

“Awe inspiring” is the best way to describe our second appearance at San Diego Comic Con. Our Star Trek panel brought together the most talented speakers I have ever moderated. I thank all of them for joining the adventure to discuss Star Trek and Supergirl at Comic Con.

Jess_Josh_StarTrek_SDCC_PodcastStar Trek is one of the greatest loves of my life.  From the tearful car ride home after Wrath of Khan, to watching Deep Space Nine in college, or Voyager in law school, I have always stood a little taller whenever I hear, “Space, the final frontier.” It was an honor to have a small part in celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek with our panel, “Star Trek: Where Lawyers Boldly Go.”

SDCC_StarTrek_Where_Lawyers_Boldly_Go

Comic Con is a lot like V’Ger: Huge. There are around a dozen panels an hour from 10am to 8pm (a few even later). There are contests, photo opts, and of course, the Exhibit Hall. There is no shortage of things to do. Here are some of our moments:

Star Trek: Where Lawyers Boldly Go

California Supreme Court Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuellar, Neel Chatterjee, Christine Peek, Paul Grewal, Megan Hitchcock, and Jessica Mederson, all had amazing legal analysis of the different trial episodes in Star Trek.

Christine Peek prepared a mind map connecting the different trial episodes. A huge thank you to special effects wizard Jesse Toves, who prepared a Star Trek themed mind map for our agenda.

Mind-Map-drawing-2Mind-Map-drawing-2Christine Peek’s material on Judgment could be used to teach a trial advocacy class. Christine covered everything from the duty of competency to how she would cross-examine Duras. We’ll post her material in a future blog post.

SDCC_Neel_Megan_6122SDCC_Neel_Megan_6122

Neel Chatterjee prepared amazing case summaries and legal analysis. Neel also wore his love of Star Trek on his sleeve, presenting in full Starfleet Wrath of Khan era uniform.

SDCC_Grewal_Cuellar_6061

Justice Cuellar is an extremely inspiring individual. He spoke on watching Star Trek as a young boy in Mexico on his grandmother’s black and white TV set. The Justice then shared his thoughts on how the Prime Directive has been applied throughout the series and movies. Justice Cuellar and Paul Grewal’s analysis of Measure of a Man was masterful on equal protection and artificial intelligence. The Justice also identified his favorite starship as the USS Voyager, because it is “svelte, sleek design, smart, fast, incredibly resilient, and wasted little space.”

SDCC_Jessica_Cuellar_6105

Nearly 400 people attended our Star Trek panel. There were approximately 100 to 150 people who identified themselves as attorneys. One attendee in a Darth Vader dress introduced herself as a California Judge in Compton. There is no question that long before many attorneys and judges practiced law, they grew up watching Star Trek.

SDCC_Megan_Paul_6084

Paul Grewal explaining the similarities between the Klingon legal system and the United States. 

Jimmy Olsen Asks the Tough Questions on Kryptonian Justice

Our second SDCC panel explored the legal issues in Supergirl. My brother Gabe Diani moderated the session as the Golden Age Jimmy Olsen.

SDCC_Supergirl_6184We had a blast discussing whether imprisoning people in the Phantom Zone violates the 8th Amendment, liability for property damage in battling super-villains, and whether Supergirl’s super hearing could subject her to an invasion of privacy claim.

SDCC_Supergirl_0330SDCC_Supergirl_6184Thank you to all of our panelists and attendees. Our slides are available below.

Kryptonian_Law_Supergirl

Celebrating the Forrest J. Ackerman Centennial

Famous Monsters is pulling out all the stops to honor the first cosplayer and the man who coined the phrase “sci fi”: Forrest J. Ackerman.SDCC_FM_6255SDCC_FM_6255

FM had an all-star panel honoring “Uncle Forry” for his 100th birthday. Legends shared their memories of Ackerman, including Bjo and John Trimble, the couple who ran the “Save Star Trek” campaign. Without their campaign, there would not have been a third season of Star Trek, which would have resulted in the show never being syndicated. The Trimbles also met under Ackerman’s grand piano, which is its own unique story.SDCC_StarTrek_Saviors_6269

Bjo and John Trimble.
Bjo and John Trimble.

Memorable Panels

There were many great panels, including a tribute to Jack Kirby, one with the Women of Marvel, Super-Hero Therapy, and out-of-this-world Star Trek panels with NASA and the Smithsonian. I was extremely surprised to find out the official Jack Kirby biographer was the jury foreman at our Mock Trial of the Winter Soldier.

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Dr. Janina Scarlet at the Super-Hero Therapy panel. 

It’s “Legal Research” 

San Diego Comic Con was an excellent opportunity to pick up props for future blog posts. I am ready for Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Doctor Strange, and other upcoming releases. I was especially impressed with the t-shirts from Red Chapter and will feature them in the fall.

SDCC_Megan_Hoth_6005Braving long lines for a purchase is always a reason to celebrate. 

Always a Monster Party

No Comic Con is complete without Monster Party. It was great visiting with my friends Matt Weinhold, Larry Strothe, James Gonis, and Shawn Sheridan. I had a blast joining them for their SDCC recording to talk about our Comic Con adventures.

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Yes, James did cosplay as Jor-El from the 1978 Superman movie.

Make It So 

San Diego Comic Con 2016 was a career milestone. These were the most high profile panels I have ever prepared. I thank all of the attorneys who joined us for the adventure. I look forward to 2017.

Supply Pod Warp Speed