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Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

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The Chewbacca Defense

By: Luke Gilman | Other Posts by
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Over the break it was revealed that one of my section-mates has survived a year and a half of law school without encountering the Chewbacca Defense. What are we learning in law school if not the fundamental building blocks of legal logic and rhetoric?

The Chewbacca Defense originated in a 1998 South Park episode Chef Aid where Johnny Cochran is hired to use the defense that proved successful in the O.J. Simpson trial.

Cochran: Ladies and gentlemen of this supposed jury, Chef’s attorney would certainly want you to believe that 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 this supposed jury, I have one final thing I want you to consider. Ladies and gentlemen, 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!

Gerald Broflovski: Damn it!

Chef: What?

Gerald: He’s using the Chewbacca Defense!

Cochran: 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? 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 this supposed jury, it does not make sense! If Chewbacca lives on Endor, you must acquit! The defense rests.

Lest you dismiss the Chewbacca defense as a relic of pop culture or just another reason the internet is making us dumber, allow me to point out that the Chewbacca Defense has entered our legal lexicon, cited in presentations to our nation’s judiciary. (See Anjali R. Swienton, M.F.S., J.D. Erin Kenneally, M.F.S., J.D.. Poking the Wookie: the Chewbacca Defense in Digital Evidence Cases (.pdf). SciLaw Forensics, Ltd.) I only hope I live long enough to see it cited in a law review article.

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