A Death Ray that explodes after being dropped once is a poorly-designed Death Ray.
September 28, 2012 10:06 AM   Subscribe

Dr. Horrible and products liability. Doctor Who and the necessity defense. Firefly and contract law. The Legal Geeks blog is exactly what it sounds like.
posted by Navelgazer (41 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite

 
geeks. Gotta love 'em. (Heh. I was about to quote a line, then noticed Navelgazer already used it as the title.)
posted by Zed at 10:12 AM on September 28, 2012


Point of order:

The Doctor is a diplomatic representative of Gallifrey, and as such is most likely protected by Diplomatic Immunity from being bound by standard United States Federal Law.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:13 AM on September 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


Similar idea in the comic book universe:
http://lawandthemultiverse.com/
posted by 2manyusernames at 10:13 AM on September 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


Law And The Multiverse is Mefi's own!

(plus I made the logo!)
posted by The Whelk at 10:14 AM on September 28, 2012 [7 favorites]


I'm pretty sure you automatically forfeit diplomatic attachment to any government that you set on fire and then trap in an interdimensional time vortex.

I'd love to see the Geeks address Rich Burlew's "Unlikely Heroes Defense" from Order of the Stick.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:16 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure you automatically forfeit diplomatic attachment to any government that you set on fire and then trap in an interdimensional time vortex.

Ah, but that government still exists, does it not? Yes, they are in a time vortex, but they still live and individual members conduct their affairs.

All the more reason why The Doctor, as he is the only member of that government outside the vortex and thus the only being capable of serving as intermediary between our plane of existance and his own, seems like he should be doubly-qualified for diplomatic immunity.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:27 AM on September 28, 2012


I think it's nicely geeky that the first things we do are to argue with the legal theories. The Doctor has diplomatic immunity, huh?

For myself, and Dr. Horrible, the Death Ray was never a product offered for sale, it was a stolen prototype. They'd have to sue under ordinary negligence. Even there they have an issue since it fell into the hands of an experienced hero who could be presumed to know to take appropriate safety measures.
posted by tyllwin at 10:28 AM on September 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


tyllwin, I'm not disagreeing with your analysis on the products-liability side of things, but doesn't that push it directly into a textbook "inherently dangerous activities" situation?
posted by Navelgazer at 10:30 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think the Dr. Horrible issue may also be complicated by the fact that Horrible was warning Hammer that the weapon was defective, not pleading for his life. Hammer clearly understood that, because his reply was not to justify his impending murder attempt, but to say he had no time to listen to warnings. He was also clearly aware of the likelihood of weapons malfunctions, based on his previous encounters with Horrible. If the manufacturer issues a recall, and then someone uses the product anyway, how does that affect liability?
posted by Karmakaze at 10:31 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Doctor is a diplomatic representative of Gallifrey, and as such is most likely protected by Diplomatic Immunity from being bound by standard United States Federal Law.


"Not to mention blah blah Shadow Proclamation blah blah"


The above was actually a line from the pilot for the dropped spin-off Rose Tyler: Defense Council.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:32 AM on September 28, 2012 [5 favorites]


How would you even determine jurisdiction in a case like that?
posted by blue_beetle at 10:34 AM on September 28, 2012


MCMikeNamara: Rose Tyler: Defense Council

I demand you make this now.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:44 AM on September 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh god, the Shadow Proclamation. RTD's Speechifying Sonic Screwdriver.
posted by kmz at 10:45 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why assume a death ray has to survive a drop that would damage, say, a phone?

Anyway, the quotes from the bench are amusing.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:47 AM on September 28, 2012


Ah, but that government still exists, does it not? Yes, they are in a time vortex, but they still live and individual members conduct their affairs.

Affairs largely oriented toward getting out of the time vortex, which makes the man who put them there singularly ill-equipped to represent their interests.

(This is all neglecting the fact that the Doctor was clearly acting under the auspices of the Indian government in the episode in question, which means (a) their law controls; and (b) he may be entitled to a version of qualified immunity, if Indian courts have such a concept.)
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:13 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


(This is all neglecting the fact that the Doctor was clearly acting under the auspices of the Indian government in the episode in question, which means (a) their law controls; and (b) he may be entitled to a version of qualified immunity, if Indian courts have such a concept.)

That's actually precisely what I'm getting at - that I'm not certain whose jurisdiction The Doctor can be said to be under at any point in time (or space). What is his precise citizenship?

Affairs largely oriented toward getting out of the time vortex, which makes the man who put them there singularly ill-equipped to represent their interests.

Unless, they were a deposed government, which it certainly seems they are. Rassilon's hostile nature and actions towards the United States (along with the rest of the universe) would certainly seem to characterize him as the leader of a hostile force. So perhaps The Doctor is indeed a representative of a government after all -- the new regime of Gallifrey, of which he is currently the sole member, and as such deserves diplomatic recognition; and with that comes diplomatic immunity.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:18 AM on September 28, 2012


As an adjunct professor teaching legal research at a law school, I am looking forward to mining this blog for fact patterns.
posted by cereselle at 11:21 AM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm still waiting for a blog that does the same sort of thing for crime shows and legal procedure. Jethro Gibbs should pay for his crimes!

Would crimes aboard a Silurian ship involving two foreign nationals (the Doctor, and Solomon, a 24th century near-human) be subject to Indian Space Agency jurisdiction? They would seem to have occurred within the ISA's territorial space.

Leaving aside the question of the Doctor's exact plenipotentiary status, I'd imagine that the presence of another head of state might muddy the waters a little.
posted by zamboni at 11:30 AM on September 28, 2012


(This is all neglecting the fact that the Doctor was clearly acting under the auspices of the Indian government in the episode in question, which means (a) their law controls; and (b) he may be entitled to a version of qualified immunity, if Indian courts have such a concept.)

Well if you want realism, the 24th-century Indian space-government would never attempt to prosecute such a case anyway, preferring to save face after an incident in which they fired missiles upon a drifting ship full of dinosaurs, aliens and Queen Nefertiti of ancient Egypt. But too much reality just makes it dry, in my opinion.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:32 AM on September 28, 2012


I'm still waiting for a blog that does the same sort of thing for crime shows and legal procedure. Jethro Gibbs should pay for his crimes!

Hoo boy, if you think the Doctor's jurisdiction is a mess, I can't wait to see what they'd do with Ziva "I'm In Mossad No Wait Now I'm Not Gotcha" David.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:37 AM on September 28, 2012


Wouldn't Earth (or it's individual nations) need to recognize the sovereignty of Gallifrey and establish diplomatic relations in order for The Doctor to be a diplomat? Where's the Galifreyan embassy? (Is it the T.A.R.D.I.S.?)
posted by feistycakes at 11:41 AM on September 28, 2012


Wouldn't Earth (or it's individual nations) need to recognize the sovereignty of Gallifrey and establish diplomatic relations in order for The Doctor to be a diplomat?

UNIT may be a sufficient entity for this purpose.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:47 AM on September 28, 2012


Also, more seriously (?) it seems to be kind of an important theme that nobody knows who the Doctor is right now, so it is highly unlikely that he would be treated as an intergalactic diplomat. If he were prosecuted at all, it would likely be under international jurisdiction or Indian law.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:53 AM on September 28, 2012


Perhaps Gallifrey has an embassy with Earth... but not with Humans? It could be with Silurians or Horses. So Humans would be an interested third party, but not legally recognized.

(The new series just needs more Time Lords. Sure, Doctor vs Master is great, but I would really like to see the Doctor go up against one of his own who is not just evil for the sake of being evil. Perhaps one who is to the Silurians as the Doctor is to Humans. Or those guys who are human except have a squiggly line on their cheek, who make really good cyborgs.)
posted by BeeDo at 11:57 AM on September 28, 2012


Also, more seriously (?) it seems to be kind of an important theme that nobody knows who the Doctor is right now, so it is highly unlikely that he would be treated as an intergalactic diplomat.

Wait wait wait - some people do know, though. The UNIT representative from the most recent episode certainly knew.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:58 AM on September 28, 2012


The Doctor might be in a more favourable position were he to be an American.

I doubt strongly, however, that he works for an accredited mission - unless someone from Gallifrey has presented their credentials. Also, that he complies with immigration rules and visa requirements, health and safety legislation, forgery, emissions regulations, criminal damage or burglary law. Practically every episode.

He is the original illegal alien. However, as I do not believe the legal status of non-human sentient beings has ever been tested in the courts, I predict a very long and involved series of cases were he ever to end up in front of the beak.
posted by Devonian at 11:59 AM on September 28, 2012


Wait wait wait - some people do know, though. The UNIT representative from the most recent episode certainly knew.

Yes, but as far as I recall it's unclear when the events of last episode happened. They seem to mostly fit into the timeline of "Pond Life" to me, placing them prior to the events in the Dalek Asylum.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:01 PM on September 28, 2012


I thought that Pond Life preceded all of that, because Amy and Rory split up at the end of Pond Life and then reconciled in the Dalek Asylum. And everything else this season has happened after that.

....Wibbly wobbly.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:05 PM on September 28, 2012


Well they definitely happened before the Western episode, because they talk about having had recent difficulties with Henry VIII in that one.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:05 PM on September 28, 2012


(Alternately, "Town Called Mercy" happened during the party in the cube episode)
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:06 PM on September 28, 2012


Wait wait wait - some people do know, though. The UNIT representative from the most recent episode certainly knew.

That threw me for a loop until the reveal about her parentage. I figured that she'd be less swayed by rumors of the Doctor's death than anyone else.

(Remember, only the Daleks were mindwiped. Everyone else just thinks him dead.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:32 PM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think you're all missing out on the fact that the Doctor is the last Time Lord and would therefore be an endangered species under various national laws and international treaties, regardless of his diplomatic status. That might not save him from incarceration (or the zoo), but would at least take more punitive punishments off the table.
posted by Panjandrum at 12:33 PM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Combine my geekly delights with the stuff that I do on a daily basis just so people will give me money to pay for my life's necessities?

No thanks.


Seriously, it's bad enough when unwanted legal analysis bursts from my skull like an uninvited facehugger during regular day to day stuff, but please, don't combine it with my delights of mind and eye. It's a souring of something wonderful and distinct, a blending of two things which produces a vomit like substance, which true, probably has a nifty miniature cocktail umbrella on top, but is in essence an unholy union that undoubtedly is like that baby space parasite sucking on the energy of the Enterprise.


But, hey, kudos to those who have a passion for both and want to see 'em get it on in grand style!
posted by Atreides at 12:34 PM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


bookmarking and averting eyes .... spoilers for people who wait for Netflix to wander in with episodes!!!!!!!!!!!!!! or who have slept since the last available series and has no idea how it left off except for some vague happiness related to River Song ...
posted by tilde at 12:38 PM on September 28, 2012


Remember, only the Daleks were mindwiped. Everyone else just thinks him dead.

If that were the case, he would have been in Solomon's computer.
posted by BeeDo at 12:38 PM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Assuming that the Doctor has to follow an Earth based judicial system, I'm pretty sure it would be "English and Welsh" law...

(Although, pratically, if there IS a murder on the ISS, who DOES have jurisdiction?)
posted by ewan at 12:57 PM on September 28, 2012


I think the Doctor is well-versed in the law. After all, he did stay his own execution on Gallifrey by invoking Article 17 and running for President of the High Council.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 1:41 PM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


(Although, pratically, if there IS a murder on the ISS, who DOES have jurisdiction?)

Probably not Wales.
posted by maryr at 2:20 PM on September 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


Apparently it depends on in which part of the ISS the murder takes place. But what if you kill someone on EVA, I wonder? (Presumably some analogy would be drawn from maritime law which has to deal with similar problems?)
posted by hattifattener at 7:07 PM on September 28, 2012


The two words that best describe Solomon are “greed” and “cruelty.”

Hmm. Would calling him "Shylock" have been too obvious?
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:17 AM on September 29, 2012


I doubt strongly, however, that he works for an accredited mission - unless someone from Gallifrey has presented their credentials

I think you'll find the credentials you require on this piece of psychic paper.
posted by Superfrankenstein at 8:15 AM on September 29, 2012


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