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Video: When Darth Vader goes on trial, the Empire strikes back

Star Wars

For many of you, the turning of the calendar merely means today is May 4, 2016. For sci-fi geeks who like puns, it’s Star Wars Day – as in May the 4th Be With You.

The celebration (observation?) is now in its fifth year, having started in 2011 at a film festival in Toronto. Amazingly, the play on the Jedi phrase dates back to an ad congratulating Margaret Thatcher on her first day as British prime minister in 1979 taken out by her own party.

To bring this into our humble blog, Star Wars itself has been a framing device over the years for points of law. Just this year, Gonzaga Law School‘s Air and Space Law Society and the Intellectual Property Law Association put Luke Skywalker on trial for the destruction of the Death Star. This may be the most common trope for using George Lucas’ universe to explain points of law. Gonzaga’s event included this quote:

“Ever since our Death Star got blown up, our health care has really gone down the tube,” Storm Trooper 12 said.

On its own, that’s better writing than any of the minutiae of trade negotiation law that was the background of the three prequels.

Cornell College in Iowa also mined the prequels for a mock trial, The Jedi Order v. Anakin Skywalker. Here, the Boy Vader was charged with murder in the death of Count Dooku, the former Jedi-turned-Sith Lord Darth Tyrannus who met his demise at the beginning of “Revenge of the Sith.”

There are plenty of other examples. But to this point, we’ve only found one mock trial that’s been uploaded to YouTube in its entirety. And it happened just this past month. In Canada.

Yes, Canada’s Law Day took place in mid-April. So this seems appropriate since this is the time when our country is marking Law Week with our own activities. And Edmonton’s courts decided to present an example of how Family Court works by having Luke and Leia Skywalker sue their deadbeat fallen father for back child support. And by way of counterclaim, Darth Vader was asking for, in the judge’s words:

Should Mr. Vader get the injunction restraining his children from trying to kill him?

The above video involves singing, dancing, costumes, makeup, and an attentive audience. And it was filmed by the YouTube user A Portuguese in Canada, who has been uploading information about the legal process of immigrating to the Great White North and becoming a permanent Canadian resident – a topic that becomes relevant via threats of the electorate in the United States every four years.

Edmonton Law Day also included a second Star Wars mock trial: “R. v. Darth Vader – The Crown is prosecuting Darth Vader for using the force for evil. Will the Crown prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt?” No word on the verdict there, but if you have video of this or any other Star Wars mock trial, please let us know.

Adam Music Adam Music is the web editor of Before the Blog. After 20-plus years in the online side of print journalism, he joined the ABA in July 2015. His experience includes stints at the Chicago Sun-Times,, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.