SharksWithLasers -- Seth Cooper

A CUTTING-EDGE BLOG FOR THE WORLD OF THE 21st CENTURY, Currently operated by Seth L. Cooper, a 27 year-old attorney in Seattle (sethlcooper at comcast dot net)

Thursday, December 02, 2004

SOMETHING THEY NEVER TAUGHT ME IN LAW SCHOOL: THE CHEWBACCA DEFENSE! Law school taught me plenty of good things, but sadly, it occurred to me this morning that it never taught me about the almighty Chewbacca Defense. Could this have been because the concept emerged from an episode of South Park and my professors didn’t want to risk their tight control over my and my fellow students’ young minds?

So what exactly is the Chewbacca Defense, you might ask? Hopefully you already know, but if you didn’t there is an excellent explanation available on another web site:

The Chewbacca Defense is a satirical term for any legal strategy that seeks to overwhelm its audience with nonsensical arguments and thus confuse them into failing to take account of the opposing arguments and, ultimately, to reject them. It is thus a kind of logical fallacy, specifically a red herring fallacy and non sequitur similar to argumentum ad nauseam.

The Chewbacca Defense emerged on an episode of South Park, where big-shot attorney Johnny Cochrane made an impassioned plea to the jury in closing arguments. Since no elegant explanation can really do the Chewbacca Defense justice, the text of the Chewbacca Defense is included below:

Ladies and gentlemen of the supposed jury, Chef's attorney would certainly want you to believe his client wrote Stinky Britches ten years ago, and they make a good case. Hell, I almost felt pity myself. But ladies and gentlemen of the supposed jury, I have one final thing I want you to consider. Ladies and gentlemen, (pulls down picture of Chewbacca) this is Chewbacca. Chewbacca is a Wookiee from the planet Kashyyyk, but Chewbacca lives on the planet Endor. Now think about it. That does not make sense...(jury looks shocked).

Why would a Wookiee -- an eight-foot-tall Wookiee -- want to live on Endor with a bunch of two-foot-tall Ewoks? That does not make sense.

But more important, you have to ask yourself: What does this have to do with this case? (calmly)...Nothing. Ladies and gentlemen, it has nothing to do with this case...It does not make sense.

Look at me. I'm a lawyer defending a major record company and I'm talkin' about Chewbacca. Does that make sense? Ladies and gentlemen I am not making any sense. None of this makes sense.

And so you have to remember when you're in that jury room deliberating and conjugating the Emancipation Proclamation, does it make sense? No. Ladies and gentlemen of the supposed jury, it does not make sense.

If Chewbacca lives on Endor you must acquit! The defense rests.

There's really nothing else to say now, is there?

(Downtown Seattle, WA)


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