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It’s a Wonderful Lawsuit Holiday Podcast!

Nothing says Christmas like holiday movies. Jessica and I sat down to discuss the classic It’s a Wonderful Life, where we explore the Establishment Clause, Conversion, and Property in one of the greatest science fiction films of all time. We also discuss Miracle on 34th Street, with how defending Kris Kringle from an involuntary confinement was the ultimate test of attorney ethics.


Call for Law Students for Batman Themed Mock Trial at San Diego Comic Fest!

The Batman first appeared when Detective Comics # 27 hit the newsstands in March 1939. To celebrate the last 80 years of adventures, we are organizing a mock trial inspired by Grant Morrison’s 1989 Graphic Novel Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth. 

We are seeking four to six law students to join us at San Diego Comic Fest, held on March 7 to 10, 2019, at the Four Points by Sheraton on Aero Drive in San Diego. The mock trial will be on March 9, 2019.  

Here are the Facts for the Mock Trial: Harvey Dent had his silver dollar taken away as part of his treatment at Arkham Asylum. Psychotherapist Ruth Adams claimed Dent was being “cured” of his obsession with duality. Dent’s treatment was replacing his coin with a six-sided die and then Tarot cards. Dr. Adams next stage of treatment was to introduce Dent to I-Ching. Dr. Adams believed Dent would have a completely functional judgment facility that did not result in black and white absolutes.

Result of Treatment: Dent was unable to make basic decisions, such as when to go to the bathroom. The treatment left Dent hollow and sitting under a table the day the inmates took over asylum.  

The Lawsuit: Attorneys retained by the Wayne Foundation have brought suit against Arkham Asylum, the late Arkham Administrator Charles Cavendish, Dr.Ruth Adams, and DOES 1-50, claiming that Harvey Dent’s treatment violated the 8th Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. Attorneys for the state have brought a summary judgment motion on the grounds that Dent’s coin was not taken away as a form of punishment, but a form of treatment.

Attorneys retained by the Wayne Foundation on Dent’s behalf have brought suit against Arkham Asylum, the late Arkham Administrator Charles Cavendish, Dr.Ruth Adams, and DOES 1-50, claiming that Dent’s treatment violated the 8th Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. Attorneys for the state will argue that Dent’s coin was not taken away as a form of punishment, but a form of treatment.

The two teams of law students will represent Plaintiff Harvey Dent and Defendant Arkham Asylum, et al. The law students will get to prepare their case with advice from practicing attorneys, prepare psychologists for witness examination, and argue their case before a Federal Judge. 

There are More Villains than Heroes on The Gifted

It is really hard to find any “heroes” on The Gifted. In this fictional world, the United States has enacted harsh anti-mutant laws after a mass fatality incident known as “7-15.” The event was a mutant rights protest that devolved into a riot with thousands killed in Dallas on July 15, 2013. Flash forward to present day where the X-Men are in hiding and the following events are transpiring:

The United States hunts and imprisons mutants based more on their DNA than on their actual crimes with an agency known as Sentinel Services;

The Inner Circle is executing a violent conspiracy to overthrow of the US Government to establish a Mutant Homeland;

A hate group known as the Purifiers call themselves patriots, while marching yelling “You will not replace us,” and engaging in domestic terrorism and armed attacks against mutants; and

The Mutant Underground has gone from a group trying to keep mutants safe to kidnapping and torturing people in order to stop the Inner Circle.

There are no heroes, just those who are committing the least Constitutional violations, crimes, or torts.  

The United States Government

Any agency with the initials “SS” will never be on the right side of history. Arresting people for their race and not because of any actual crimes, is a big jump into tyranny. The theme since the first episode is that Mutants were called dangerous and immediately lost their rights. Laws in this world are designed to protect humans from Mutants, automatically removing any sense of humanity from those being persecuted. 

Mutants arrested wear collars that inflict pain if the mutant attempts to use their powers. There is a good question on how to imprison someone who has super-human abilities, but pain compliance easily invokes issues of torture.

The exact legal arguments are not clearly stated, but there is the undercurrent that Mutants are not human. If that position was taken beyond racism to enacting laws, the Government could argue that Mutants are not “persons” under the 14th Amendment, thus have no legal rights. Provided that human beings and Mutants can have children together, claiming they are two separate species runs into big scientific challenges.

The Government’s treatment of Mutants on its face is race-based discrimination because of the Mutants’ DNA, not because of any actions they have committed. These sorts of laws should not survive strict scrutiny. Moreover, imprisoning Mutants based on race would be a gross violation of the 14th and 5th Amendment Rights to not deprive any of their life without due process of law; a violation of the 4th Amendment warrant requirement for probable cause; a violation of the 6th Amendment right to a trial in any criminal prosecution; and the use of shock collars a violation of the 8th Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment.

The Inner Circle

The Inner Circle’s superpower is proving every negative thing said about them by their enemies right.

Magneto’s influence is heavily seen in the Inner Circle. The Inner Circle had an impressive body count that took a very public increase when one teenage mutant went rogue and killed 37 people. By turning the victims inside out. The Inner Circle was playing a PR game with a forced video confession to expose a discriminatory bank. Unfortunately, that message was totally lost when an angry child soldier put human beings through a blender.

Mass murder aside, the Inner Circle is planning to overthrow the US Government. Every member of that group could be charged with Treason 18 USCS § 2381; Domestic Terrorism 18 USCS § 2331(5); Murder 18 USCS § 1111; Rebellion or Insurrection 18 USCS § 2383; and Enlistment to Serve Against the United States 18 USCS § 2390.

These are not the good guys.

The Purifiers

These guys are REALY not the good guys. The Purifiers are a heartbeat away from chanting with Tiki Torches and wearing white hoods. Ironically, the Purifiers and Inner Circle are committing murder in the name of self-preservation. The Purifiers are racists who attack others, deploy Klan-style tactics to instill fear, and engage in open hostilities against US Citizens because they do not think law enforcement is protecting the human race. The FBI should be hunting these guys down, because they are the monsters of the story.

The Mutant Underground

These are supposed to be the good guys, who have turned from helping people escape oppression to kidnapping and torture. These actions are the definition of “means justify the ends” in order to stop both the Purifiers and Inner Circle. 

The Mutant Underground kidnapped a security expert with physical force, teleportation, and then a getaway car. Prosecuting them for these crimes would test the issue of how teleportation would apply to the definition of kidnapping. The Federal law is broad and includes seizes, confines, inveigles, decoys, abducts, or carries away in the definition. Forcing someone through a teleportation portal would meet the definition of kidnapping as a form of carrying someone away or abduction. See, 18 U.S.C.S. § 1201(a). Physically restraining the detainee and threatening him for compliance would be torture.

With all of these bad acts, who should the audience cheer for? Who isn’t a “bad guy” in this series?

The lesson from The Gifted is how cruelty and discrimination is fundamentally wrong.  Those who are persecuted naturally want to protect themselves from those who will do them harm. This raises the immediate issue of two wrongs do not make a right. Moreover, might does not make right. What this fictional world needs is Professor X, because where everyone is going is down a dark path.

We Made ABA Journal Web 100!

The ABA Journal selected The Legal Geeks for the 2018 Web 100. We are deeply honored to be recognized for our blog. This year has been one with amazing memories, with Jessica, Thomas Harper, and I each presenting at different Nerd Nites across the country, with no shortage of movies and TV shows for us to analyze each week.

We proudly organized three mock trials this year, including a competency hearing for Frankenstein’s Creature at San Diego Comic Fest; vindicated Droid Rights at WonderCon; and the Court Martial of Poe Dameron at San Diego Comic Con. We also had amazing panels, including Lawyers vs Kaiju at WonderCon, Judges on Star Wars at SDCC, and Star Wars author Claudia Gray joined us at San Francisco Comic Con.

Many of the lawyers who have participated at our mock trials shared multiple guest posts with us, focusing on Star Wars and Marvel movies.

To borrow from two other esquires, 2018 has been an excellent adventure. Thank you to the ABA Journal, judges, and all of our readers, for making this a year to remember.

Superman the Movie 40th Anniversary Podcast

Superman the Movie opened on December 15, 1978. This film is truly the first superhero movie of the modern era with effects that brought a comic book character to life. Jessica and I sat down to discuss the legal issues in the movie and its legacy on the comic book movies we love today.


Bombed with Lived Turkeys in Cincinnati

The classic WKRP in Cincinnati episode “Turkeys Away,” is one of the greatest moments in television history. The radio station had a surprise Thanksgiving promotion that involved a helicopter “setting free” live turkeys from 2,000 feet above the Pinedale Shopping Mall. Unfortunately, the turkeys could not fly.

Dropping Turkeys from a Helicopter is Animal Abuse

There are many ways to prepare turkeys for Thanksgiving dinner. Dropping them from a helicopter is not one of them.

Ohio law states that no person shall needlessly mutilate or kill an animal. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 959.13(A)(1). Dropping a flightless bird from 2,000 feet luckily has not appeared in Ohio case law, but would be the textbook definition of “mutilate.” Reporter Les Nessman described the turkeys hitting the ground like bags of wet cement. There is no question that the turkeys were mutilated by their high velocity impact on pavement and cars.

It was Negligence to Drop Turkeys from a Helicopter 

Station manager Arthur Carlson claimed he thought turkeys could fly. Moreover, he stated his plan “should have worked.” There is a strong argument Carlson was negligent for his plan that resulted in the Pinedale Shopping Mall being bombed with live turkeys.

In order to prove Arthur Carlson was negligent, there first must be a duty; a breach of that duty, and an injury resulting from that breach. Menifee v. Ohio Welding Prods., Inc., 472 N.E.2d 707, 710 (Ohio 1984). The test to determine whether the risk of injury was foreseeable is whether “a reasonably prudent person would have anticipated that an injury was likely to result from the performance or nonperformance of an act.” Id., citations omitted.

Dropping objects out of a helicopter is objectively a dangerous activity that could result in those on the ground being injured. As such, there would be a duty to not drop objects from a helicopter on a parking lot with people. However, Carlson honesty thought turkeys could fly. Was that reasonable?

There is a strong argument that Carlson should have researched whether turkeys could fly, instead of assuming they could. Has anyone seen a flock of turkeys migrate south for the winter? Moreover, since Herb Tarlek purchased the turkeys at a farm, did Carlson think they somehow were kept in pens to avoid flying away?

There is a compelling argument that a reasonably prudent person would not have thrown a second turkey out of a helicopter after seeing the first turkey did not take flight upon release. Even if Carlson had a good faith reasonable belief that turkeys could fly, that belief was no longer reasonable after seeing the first bird in free fall.

Those suffering property damage from turkeys crashing into their cars could recover from Carlson’s negligence, because dropping turkeys out of a helicopter would have been a breach of Carlson’s duty to not drop flightless birds out of a helicopter over a populated area. However, being reasonably prudent would not have made one of the greatest moments in television history.

Rest in Peace Stan Lee

There are very few people who are cultural icons that redefined pop culture. Stan Lee was one such individual who helped inspire imagination and joy for decades. Lee did not do this alone, as other titans such as Jack Kirby, Joe Simon, Steve Ditko, Bill Everett, all were invaluable to creating the pop culture golden age we live in today, especially Jack Kirby.

Stan Lee was a force of nature who represented the best of being a geek. Lee was honored at the first Geekie Awards in 2013, where Lee wowed the crowd with his “Ode to Geeks.” Stan the Man will be greatly missed and his memory will be eternal.

AbbyShot's Eleventh Doctor's Purple Coat