Topic: United States/Animation - American animation
In a jury trial, a Chewbacca defense is a legal strategy in which a criminal defense lawyer tries to confuse the jury rather than refute the case of the prosecutor. It is an intentional distraction or obfuscation.
As a Chewbacca defense distracts and misleads, it is an example of a red herring. It is also an example of an irrelevant conclusion, a type of informal fallacy in which one making an argument fails to address the issue in question. Often an opposing counsel can legally object to such arguments by declaring them irrelevant, character evidence, or argumentative.
The name Chewbacca defense comes from "Chef Aid", an episode of the American animated series South Park. The episode, which premiered on October 7, 1998, satirizes the O. J. Simpson murder trial—particularly attorney Johnnie Cochran's closing argument for the defense. In the episode, Cochran (voiced by Trey Parker) bases his argument on a false premise about the 1983 film Return of the Jedi. He asks the jury why a Wookiee like Chewbacca would want to live on Endor with the much smaller Ewoks when "it does not make sense". He argues that if Chewbacca living on Endor does not make sense—and if even mentioning Chewbacca in the case does not make sense—then the jury must acquit.
In the Simpson murder trial, the real Johnnie Cochran tried to convince jurors that a glove found at the crime scene, alleged to have been left by the killer, could not be Simpson's because it did not fit Simpson's hand. Because the prosecution relied on the glove as evidence of Simpson's presence at the scene, Cochran argued that the lack of fit proved Simpson's innocence: "It makes no sense; it doesn't fit; if it doesn't fit, you must acquit." "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit" was a refrain that Cochran also used in response to other points of the case.