What's Happening



collapse/expand topics back to Main/HollywoodLaw

03:17:41 PM Dec 21st 2013
Could someone who knows something about law consolidate this string of conversation into a single entry, or simply rule that it's not an example:

  • In Dirty Harry, the villain is released because Callahan tortures him into revealing his murder victim's location; the moral here is that such rights just present Off on a Technicality, which merely allows criminals to get away with murder. In reality, however, this is to prevent suspects from being forced to falsely confess, and the body of the murder victim would be excluded by the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine, since he was coerced to reveal this.
    • [1] - Fruit of the poison tree doesn't always attach, and in this situation the prosecutors could have at least tried to claim exigent circumstance or inevitable discovery. Under the law as it exists now, its doubtful that any of the evidence other than the original confession would be excluded. Figuring out what would have happened when the movie was filmed is harder, but they could have at least kept the defendant in jail and then run through the appeals process.
    • All of which Harry Callahan would know, being a police detective, but it's very doubtful that with such a horrible case the district attorney would choose to believe the suspect instead of him and dismiss the case, unless it was proven beyond any doubt. Nor would it grant the killer an automatic release anyway. He had assaulted Callahan and attempted to murder him, a police detective, felonies good enough to put him away for a very long time, even life.
    • Harry thought the girl was still alive, and he knew that Scorpio was guilty; so he was trying to save the girl, not stop him; if he wanted that, he could have just plugged Scorpio with his .44 Magnum and claimed he resisted arrest. Likewise he could have just pointed the gun at him, and said "talk— or die— and then denied it afterward. Rather, this was an obvious message against "bleeding heart laws which tie the hands of the police--" as lampshaded by Scorpio responding to Harry's demands by screaming "I want a lawyer! I have the right to a lawyer!"
    • Any evidence they find could likely be admissible under exigent circumstance. However, the whole point of the rules is to keep cops from torturing random people to get information that they don't have. Also Scorpio's reactions were understandable. I'd be screaming for a lawyer if Dirty Harry was beating me up for information.
    • The District Attorney lampshaded Harry's Hollywood Law style:
      District Attorney Rothko: You're lucky I'm not indicting you for assault with intent to commit murder.
      Harry Callahan: What?
      District Attorney Rothko: Where the hell does it say that you've got a right to kick down doors, torture suspects, deny medical attention and legal counsel? Where have you been? Does Escobedo ring a bell? Miranda? I mean, you must have heard of the Fourth Amendment. What I'm saying is that man had rights.
      Harry Callahan: Well, I'm all broken up over that man's rights.
    • Dirty Harry also brings up a common trope, i.e. that mistreatment of a suspect is an automatic acquittal, even if they simply aren't read their rights. In reality this is 100% false; rather, coerced confessions are simply excluded from the evidence, however the suspect can still be tried on admissible evidence. In the Dirty Harry case, there was plenty of evidence to convict the murderer— including the wounds that Harry had legally inflicted on him previously, thus identifying him as the killer. Furthermore, police do have the right to kick down doors, if they can claim "exigent circumstances—'' which definitely existed in this scenario.
    • The search is claimed to be in violation of Scorpio's Fourth Amendment rights. The doctor that treated Scorpio mentions the groundskeeper of the 49ers' stadium allows Scorpio to live there, which would constitute consensual, contract living. However, the groundskeeper, as an employee of the stadium and not the owner, has, in all probability, no legal standing to grant that kind of permission, which therefore makes Scorpio a squatter, and thus is not protected by the Fourth Amendment, so everything but his confession would be admissible, plus the felonies he committed when accepting the ransom (assault with a deadly weapon against a police officer, illegal possession of an automatic weapon, resisting arrest and possibly attempted murder of a police officer).

06:12:43 PM Jun 7th 2013
edited by
  • "Indictment: The McMartin Trial is chock full of Hollywood Law and just having a general artistic pass, ranging from withholding evidence (both sides), badgering of witnesses, falsified confessions, perjury, illegal seizure/destruction of property, improper instances of strip/cavity searches and being held in the incorrect facilities, and everyone involved generally acting like the suspects are guilty before evidence has even been attained. Then again, that was the point, as it was a more-or-less accurate retelling of the real McMartin trial with several aspects played up or changed for Rule of Drama. The sad part is the fact that about 85% of the atrocious law seen actually happened, as this was one of the cases that sparked the irrational belief of their being a "national conspiracy of Satanic day care centers, ritually abusing our children." All the defendants were eventually acquitted, thankfully."

I don't think this counts as Hollywood Law if the events in the film actually happened that way.
05:06:18 AM May 20th 2013
edited by
  • "Regarding the rape, the traditional law — still the law in much of the US today — is that tricking someone into sex by impersonation is not a crime unless the perpetrator is impersonating the victim's spouse."

Really depends on the state. It's called Rape by Fraud or Rape by Deception, and some states have laws about it, some don't. But it no longer always has to be the spouse that's impersonated. Edit or cut entry?

  • "Holes: Wrongly Accused protagonist Stanley Yelnats at his trial doesn't have a lawyer. Not "got a bad lawyer" or "can't afford a good one", he doesn't have a lawyer at all, even though that's constitutionally mandated in America. The curse on his family must be quite powerful to do that."

Stanley did have a lawyer in the book -specifically stated as incompetent and not very good at his job. The patents lawyer his dad hires finds out in about ten minutes why Stanley couldn't have done what he was accused of, and has some sharp words for/about Stanley's defense lawyer (implied to be the lowest ranking public defender or somesuch) not figuring it out himself. The curse was apparently more that he got the worst possible lawyer.

(Figuring it out himself would mean doing stuff like having possible witnesses at the school interviewed and finding out just how legal the search of Stanley's home/room was.)
07:07:22 PM Jan 30th 2013
edited by MithrandirOlorin
The first Common Example is quite subjective in seems, in my opinion Innocent People are railroaded IN REAL LIFE far more often then in fiction. Fiction more often then not says as long as you are a decent person something will save you.
07:13:43 PM Jan 30th 2013
edited by MithrandirOlorin
Allot of the others are things I think should be true. The Defense should certainly not be limited in what kind of defense they can present, it's the prosecution I'm more concerned with keeping restrained.

I approve of The CSI Effect, because I do think the burden of proof to convict should be high.
07:16:44 PM Jan 30th 2013
edited by MithrandirOlorin
And I really object to what's Jury Nullification, Jury Nullification is a right that shod be protected, that Judged actively persecute it is the crime.

Very recently one did state did pass a law required Judges to inform Juries of their right to Nullify. http://chuckbaldwinlive.com/home/archives/5031

How come no NCIS examples?
09:15:11 AM Jan 31st 2013
" Another one featured Alan's assistant refusing to pay her federal income taxes. She was charged criminally, and argued that she didn't pay because she disagreed with various government policies. Alan then asked the jury to return a Not Guilty verdict for that reason, and they did so. Perhaps needless to say, that's not a valid defense, such evidence would never be admitted, and Alan's argument would also not be permitted. There are many real life cases on this issue, because so many out there are eager to not pay their taxes...

An entire trial in L.A. Law was dedicated to ridiculing the idea of a tax-protester who refused to pay his federal taxes because of silly government programs like measuring cow-flatulence etc; the jury just told him the obvious moral (i.e. "preachy message") of the story: that "the little people" only had the right to vote against policies they don't like— otherwise they should just shut up and pay their taxes. "

The funny thing there is no law requiring you to pay the Labor Income tax. The IRS just basically bullies Juries into convicting people and the only response when someone asks to be shown the law is "Well it's obviously a law", but "obviously" shouldn't be a legal precedent, if someone asked to be show the Law against Murder the state should be required to provide it.
05:31:22 AM Mar 5th 2013
There most certainly is a law that requires you to pay income tax, like it or not. Courts are well aware of all tax protester arguments-each one has been ruled invalid repeatedly.
04:08:43 PM May 31st 2013
There people Juries have acquitted because of the IRS's refusal to show a law.
04:56:16 PM Jul 31st 2013
edited by
There are multiple laws-one requiring that you file an income tax returns, others that you pay certain amounts, etc. I'm sure juries have acquitted people for income tax evasion, probably through jury nullification at times. Personally I don't have a problem with it in principle-juries are there to be a check on the power of the government, after all. Better to argue on ethical or political grounds that you should not have to (not that this will work any better in many cases). In case you're really interested, here are the laws: 26 U.S.C. § 1, imposing an income tax, 26 U.S.C. § 61 and § 63, defining what "taxable income" is, 26 U.S.C. § 6012(a), requiring that you file an income tax return, 26 U.S.C. § 6151, requiring that you pay income tax owed, and 26 U.S.C. § 6072, stating when your return is due (on April 15th each year). There is more, naturally-the Internal Revenue Code is complex and long, but to say that there's no law requiring that you pay income tax is just ridiculous. All this can easily be found out.
07:52:24 AM Dec 10th 2012
I deleted a bunch of Conversation in the Main Page examples/subpoints with contradictory arguments. They may be actual examples, but someone with better knowledge of them (and law) would have to decide whether they're the non-examples I consider them, or relevant for the page. If they're relevant, do rewrite them as proper examples, and not more natter.

back to Main/HollywoodLaw

TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy