Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Real Lawyer Reacts to South Park Chewbacca Defense

Difficulty: 0

- [Devin] Thanks to Skillshare

for keeping Legal Eagle in the air.

Learn to think like a lawyer for free for two months

by clicking the link in the dooply-doo.

- I'm trying to be cool about this,

but you can't just rip people's music off.

It's against the law.

- I am above the law.

(Devin chuckles)

- A record company above law?

I've never heard anything like that.

(bright music)

Hey, legal eagles, it's time to think like a lawyer,

and today, we are covering the episode of South Park

that gave rise to the Chewbacca defense.

This is probably one of the most-quoted things by lawyers

in the entire world.

And it's great to go back and see the genesis

of the Chewbacca defense,

because my friends and I use it all the time.

- 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.

- As always, be sure to comment in the form of an objection,

which I'll either sustain or overrule,

and stick around until the end of the video

where I give the South Park

Chef Aid Chewbacca defense episode a grade

for legal realism.

So, without further ado,

let's dig in to South Park Chef Aid.

(bright music)

Okay, so, the background here

is that Chef wrote a song

called "Stinky Britches."

You got stinky britches

Stinky, stinky ♪ - What did you say?

- He's singing some new hit song.

- I wrote that song 20 years ago.

- And now it's being covered by major rock artists,

including Alanis Morissette...

Stinky, stinky britches

Stinky britches

So, because he wrote the song,

he goes to the record company

to ask that he be credited

for having written the song.

He actually doesn't ask for monetary compensation.

He just wants a credit for having written the song...


"Stinky Britches."

Stinky britches

You got those stinky britches

- So, you see, Mr. Big Record Producer,

"Stinky Britches" was something I wrote several years ago.

- Hmm, I really see no resemblance

between that song and "Stinky Britches"

by our artist Alanis Morissette.

- Huh?

- It's the same (bleep) song.

- I don't think that's the kind of song

that Alanis Morissette would write.

Also, I don't know how people are able to determine

that this is the same song,

given just the two seconds of the song that they're playing,

and it shares just, really, this lyric.

I mean, presumably, this song is exactly the same,

so I think we can understand

that it is supposed to be the same song,

but understand that in the real world,

just because the same lyric is in multiple songs

does not necessarily mean

that copyright infringement has occurred.

- I'm trying to be cool about this,

but you can't just rip people's music off.

It's against the law.

- I am above the law.

(Devin chuckles)

- A record company above the law?

I've never heard anything like that.

- Mr. Chef, I'm afraid you leave me no alternative.

We're going to sue you.

- Sue me?

You stole one of my songs, and you're gonna sue me?

- Yes.

I suggest you get a real good lawyer.

We'll have the best in the business.

- We'll get my dad to be Chef's lawyer.

- Yeah, and he's Jewish.

- God.

Okay, so, that might sound insane,

that someone wrote a song,

that a music label then copied that song,

and the music label sues the person

who originally wrote the song.

There is, actually, a real mechanism in real life

that would allow that to happen.

There's something called declaratory relief

that allows someone,

that once a controversy has occurred,

to then go to court.

While they're effectively the plaintiff,

really what they're doing is saying

I'm worried that this other person is going to sue me

or that there is some controversy

that needs to be adjudicated, and as a result,

I'm going to take the affirmative step of filing suit

and just adjudicating this thing.

So, while it might seem crazy that the victim

could be the defendant in a law suit like this,

it's actually totally plausible

that the music company

might be so worried about this lawsuit

that they take the affirmative step

of filing suit against Chef,

and the mechanism that they would be using

is called declaratory relief.

So, actually could happen.

Stinky, stinky britches

Stinky britches

You know, I actually don't think

that that Alanis Morissette's "Stinky Britches" song

sounds like the one that Chef sang earlier on

in this episode.

Stinky britches

You got those Stinky Britches

Of course, we've seen in the news recently

that there have been

some major copyright infringement actions

between songs that I don't think sound

anything like each other,

and frankly I think the juries got it wrong.

For example, we saw in

the "Blurred Lines" Marvin Gaye lawsuit

and the Katy Perry "Dark Horse" lawsuit,

both of which the juries found for the plaintiff.

I don't think that there is a really good reason

why that should count as copyright infringement.

I've been meaning to do a video on this,

but in the meantime,

check out Adam Neely's videos on these subjects.

He's done a really good job of breaking down the lawsuits

from a music theory perspective,

and I think my hunch is right

that these lawsuits should not have held for the plaintiff,

let alone penalized the defendants by millions of dollars.

- Now, just let me do all the talking, Chef.

We're gonna bring these (beep) down.

- Right.

- This court is now in session.

Who is representing the defense?

- I am, your honor.

Gerald Broflovski.

- And representing the prosecution?

- I am, your honor.

Johnnie Cochran.

(crowd gasps)

- Uh oh.

- Why uh oh?

- Chef, that's Johnnie Cochran.

He's the guy who got O.J. off.

- Uh-oh.

- All right, so, for the younger viewers out there,

that is true,

that there was a famous lawyer named Johnnie Cochran

who was the lead counsel in the O.J. Simpson murder trial.

O.J. Simpson, for those of you that don't remember,

was a star football player

and was alleged to have murdered his wife

and his wife's lover.

Famously, O.J. Simpson had many different lawyers,

but the most famous and lead counsel was Johnnie Cochran

who was well-known for coming up

with phrases that would be repeated throughout the trial.

When I covered the Seinfeld finale

that involved a trial,

they also created a parody of Johnnie Cochran,

whose name was Jackie Childs,

who exhibited similar flamboyance in court.

- I am shocked and chagrined.

- I think we're going to see a lot of some parodies

of Johnnie Cochran in this South Park trial.

- And so on this 15th day of what is considered to be

the most important trial of the day,

Johnnie Cochran has appeared to defend Capitalist Records.

The question now is will Cochran use

his famous Chewbacca Defense?

- So, famously, for some reason, the O.J. Simpson trial,

they allowed cameras inside of the courtroom,

and it just turned into this phenomenon

that the entire nation was obsessed with.

I actually remember in middle school, I think.

We stopped classes.

We rolled in a T.V. into the classroom

and we watched the verdict being read

because we knew it was going to be a historical event,

and as a result,

the news coverage about the O.J. Simpson trial,

and, of course, the Chef trial in this particular case,

were just insane,

and there were cameras and talking heads.

It was really sort of the beginning

of the cable news sort of punditry that we see today.

- What's a Chewbacca defense?

- I don't know.

- That's what Cochran used in the O.J. Simpson trial.

- (beep) I hate that Cochran guy.

If he was here in front of me,

I'd be like, hey!

You stupid son of a (beep).

(sputters incoherently)

I may kick you in the nuts.

- I'm sure that would scare the hell out of him, Cartman.

- Yeah, so,

what Cartman has done here

is a pretty good parody

of what I see all the time on Twitter,

which is people who don't have a law degree

or any experience in the legal profession

second-guessing seasoned professionals.

- And so in summation, ladies and gentlemen of the jury.

- Oh, okay, we're already in summation for some reason.

Apparently, the trial was the next day

and we're starting with closing arguments

instead of actually going through the trial

and there is no discovery.

This kind of trial would take, conservatively,

two years to get to trial, if it even got to trial,

and 99% of cases do not even get to trial.

They settle or they are dismissed early on,

and they come nowhere near the actual courtroom or a jury,

so, this is very, very wrong.

Very wrong.

- You've heard the version of my client's song

recorded over 20 years ago.

You've heard the exact same song produced by these cheats

in the past month.

I'd say it's pretty much an open-and-shut case.

Make the right decision.

Thank you.

- And, you know, if you had a very strong case

and you really thought that the two songs

sounded identical to each other,

there's no reason that your closing argument

needs to be particularly fancy.

You could just play them back-to-back

or next to each other,

and that might be very persuasive evidence.

But, again, if you had a very strong case,

it's very unlikely to get to trial.

That's actually one thing

that people often forget about trials

is that only marginal cases go to trial,

and that's both on a civil level and a criminal level,

because it has to be a really close call,

otherwise it would not get

to that point in the judicial system.

So, when you have an open-and-shut case,

it's gonna be dealt with long before you ever get to trial.

- Mr. Johnnie Cochran, your closing arguments.

- Ladies and gentlemen of the supposed jury.

- The supposed jury. - The defense attorney

would certainly want you to believe that his client

wrote "Stinky Britches" 10 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.

- That's true. - Now think about that.

That does not make sense.

- Dammit. - What?

- He's using the Chewbacca Defense.

- So, this is a parody of Johnnie Cochran's famous saying

during the O.J. Simpson trial.

- If it doesn't fit,

you must acquit.

- Now, in the actual O.J. Simpson trial,

there was a bloody glove found at the crime scene.

Both the prosecution and defense

made a very big deal about this particular bloody glove,

and in one of the biggest blunders of all-time

as prosecutors,

the prosecutors had O.J. Simpson take the stand,

even though he was taking the fifth as to everything else,

and they had him try on the glove.

Now, they gave him plenty of forewarning to know

that he was going to be asked to put it on,

and he wore a latex glove underneath the leather glove

as he was trying to try it on,

so he had to time to bulk up his hand

and he had the ability to sort of spread out his fingers

and he was wearing a latex glove

so as to not contaminate it.

And for all of those reasons,

the defense said that the glove didn't fit O.J. Simpson,

and so the defense made a huge deal out of this

in the closing argument.

And people make fun of Johnnie Cochran

for this childish saying

that if the glove doesn't fit, you must acquit.

But the thing is, it sticks with you.

Even now, 20 years later,

we're still talking about this particular defense

and it stuck with the jury, too.

I think it's actually a stroke of brilliance

that Johnnie Cochran was able to capitalize

on this bad fact

that the prosecution misplayed their hand,

no pun intended,

and lo and behold,

the jury did in fact find O.J. Simpson to be not guilty.

So, that is the underlying real-life thing

that actually happened

that gave rise to this parody version,

the Chewbacca Defense.

- 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 importantly,

you have to ask yourself

what does this have to do with this case?


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 talking about Chewbacca.

- Yeah.

- 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?


Ladies and gentlemen of this supposed jury,

it does not make sense.

If Chewbacca lives on Endor, you must acquit.

- Okay, so, there are a lot of problems

with this particular theme

and this parody of the O.J. Simpson glove defense.

Number one, Chewbacca, I think,

was on Endor for like the Battle of Endor,

and I don't know that he actually lives on Endor.

He, you know, goes around the galaxy with Han Solo,

so I'm not even sure it's accurate to say

that Chewbacca actually lives on Endor.

He's from Kashyyyk, obviously.

But, let's put that aside

and let's focus on the actual legal issues

and not the Star Wars implications.

I'm sure I'm gonna get tons of comments

about how I don't even understand

the Star Wars extended universe.

This is just non sequitur after non sequitur.

It's literally trying to take something

that doesn't make sense

and saying, for no reason whatsoever,

that if that doesn't make sense,

that this jury should not find in favor of Chef.

- The defense rests.

- Okay, then.

(Devin laughs)

- So, yeah.

Even the judge recognizes that it's total gibberish

and makes no sense whatsoever,

and just because it doesn't make sense,

that doesn't actually give a reason

for why the jury should find for the plaintiff

in this particular case.

But that being said,

it has made a huge mark on lawyers in general.

My friends and I will often say

we are using the Chewbacca Defense

or that opposing counsel is using the Chewbacca Defense

when they're doing something

that doesn't make any sense at all.

Doesn't really work.

Judges don't like it.

Juries don't believe it,

and it doesn't work out the way you think it would.

- How find you the jury?

- We find the defendant, Jerome Chef McElroy,

guilty as charged.

(attendees gasp)

- And that doesn't even make any sense

because this is a civil case.

This is a civil case for a declaratory relief.

It's not even a criminal case

where you could find someone guilty.

You can't find someone guilty in a civil case.

You would have to have a criminal case for that.

- Mr. Chef, you've been found guilty

of harassing a major record label.

- Harassing.

- The full fee of two million dollars will be handed over

within 24 hours.

- Do I look like I have two million dollars?

- Well, you have 24 hours to find it

or else you'll have to go to jail

for eight million years.

- Also not a thing.

Yeah, okay, so a number of things are very wrong here.

Number one, you can't sentence someone to go to jail

in a civil case.

You can't find them guilty in a civil case.

What Chef was doing was in no way harassment

and wouldn't even be grounds for anything like that.

On top of that, you wouldn't be given

a choice between going to jail

and paying a huge fine,

even if it was a criminal case,

and frankly, this is probably one of the biggest issues

in civil law,

is that if there was a judgment for two million dollars

against some poor individual

who's just a chef at a local school,

they're not going to be able to pay that,

so they'd effectively be judgment proof,

and they'd just file for bankruptcy

and discharge the debt that is owed.

- And that chair, too.

I want that chair.

- Hey, that's my favorite chair!

- You heard the judge.

Since you lost the case,

I can seize whatever I want to pay my legal fees.

Yeah, take that water cooler, too.

- So, while this timeline is totally unrealistic,

what is actually realistic is, sometimes,

if you have a judgment in court,

you can use that to get all of the things

of the person who the debt is against.

Or you can get a wage garnishment

so that if they have a salary,

you can get a percentage,

sometimes a very high percentage,

of that salary in order to pay back

the debt that is owed.

And in order to get the court to sign off

on turning over physical property,

you would need something called a writ of attachment,

which is something that would happen

in the months after the trial,

saying that you are owed this judgment

and the only way to get it

is to basically take the physical possessions

of the defendant or the plaintiff, in this case.

The funny thing is,

if you're able to get a writ of attachment,

you get the sheriff of the city or the municipality

to enforce it,

so law enforcement will actually go to the house

of the person against whom you have a judgment

and they will help you take all of the things

and make sure that the person is not trying to stop you,

so, presumably in this particular case,

there would have been a writ of attachment

and the physical goods would have been sold

to discharge the debt.

It's a real thing.

- Ladies and gentlemen of the supposed jury,

you must now decide whether or not to reverse the decision

for my client Chef.

I know he seems guilty, but ladies and gentlemen,

this is Chewbacca.

- Okay, hold on.

Before Johnnie Cochran gets into

the second Chewbacca Defense,

let's think like a lawyer.

(energetic rock music)

There's no such thing as a jury reversing the decision

of another jury.

There's a principle in the law called res judicata

that says once a case is determined,

that's it.

It's done.

And in the case of a jury trial,

you might be able to get the appeals court to weigh in

and say that there was some defect from a legal perspective,

but you would never be able to get a second jury

on exactly the same factual matter

to render another factual decision.

That's absolutely not allowed at all.

Once the facts are settled,

they're settled.

- Now, think about that for one minute.

That does not make sense.

Why am I talking about Chewbacca

when a man's life is on the line?


I tell you why.

I don't know.

It doesn't make sense.

If Chewbacca does not make sense, you must acquit.

Here, look at the monkey.

Look at the silly monkey.

(man groans) (head explodes)

- Ah.

It's totally unrealistic, but it's really funny.

Look at the silly monkey. - Look at thee silly monkey.

(bright music)

- All right, now it's time

to give the South Park Chewbacca defense episode

a grade for legal realism.

(gavel pounding)

On the one hand, this episode sort of hints at things

that you don't really see in legal dramas very much

like writs of attachment

and declaratory relief

where a defendant sues a plaintiff.

That's really cool.

That doesn't happen very often.

And the Chewbacca Defense

has been adopted by lawyers everywhere.

We use it all the time.

- On the other hand is basically everything else.

The timing is all screwed up.

The second trial makes no sense at all.

The legal arguments are intentionally insane.

So, I'm gonna have to give this episode of South Park

a C-minus for legal accuracy.

It really needs to go back to South Park High.

(Cartman stammering incoherently)

- I may kick you in the nuts.

- Now, you can only get sued by the music industry

if you have a song first,

so if you want to learn how to make your own hit song

that will be covered by Alanis Morissette

and then be subject to a multimillion-dollar lawsuit,

you'll first need to learn how to mix and produce

your own songs.

To do that, I'd recommend Young Guru's Skillshare course.

Learn how to mix music with DJ Young Guru.

He covers everything you could possibly want

to know about making music,

including organizing the mix,

tweaking the levels,

and adding effects.

He can't keep you from getting sued by Capitalist Records,

but he can help you make a diss track sound awesome,

awesome, awesome.



Awesome, insane.

- Wow, he's good.

- Skillshare is an online learning community

that has nearly 30,000 classes on everything,

like music, design, technology, and business.

Legal Eagles will get two free months of Skillshare

when you click on the link below.

Plus, it really helps out the channel.

The free premium membership gives you unlimited access

to must-know topics,

so you can improve your skills

and learn new things,

all free for two months,

so take Young Guru's Skillshare class

and start making your own "Stinky Britches."

Stinky britches

You got stinky britches

Do you agree with my grade?

Leave your objections in the comments,

and check out my other real lawyer reactions over here

where I will see you in court.

The Description of Real Lawyer Reacts to South Park Chewbacca Defense