Eight months after the events of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Poe Dameron was put up before a court-martial in San Diego this week. The charges? Disobeying orders. Mutiny. Conduct Unbecoming of an Officer.
He was in a fight for his life and it played out in front of a jury of San Diego Comic-Con attendees. Put on by The Legal Geeks, a podcast and blog dedicated to dissecting the legal issues in nerddom, and the Rebel Legion’s Sunrider Base, the mock court-martial trial of Poe Dameron might have been one of the most entertaining fan panels I’ve ever seen at a convention.
Presided over by an actual judge, United States Magistrate Judge Mitch Dembin, a pair of prosecutors, real-life JAG officer Thomas Harper and trial attorney Megan Hitchcock, and defense attorneys, Assistant US Attorney Steve B Chu and trial attorney Christine Peek, donned Resistance uniforms and set to work on Poe Dameron. Poe himself was there to answer for his crimes, played by Marcus Holt. General Leia Organa was a witness for the prosecution, played by Rachel Williams.
I was on hand to cover the event and I have to tell you that this was, hands down, one of the most entertaining hours of programming I’ve ever seen at a convention, San Diego or otherwise.
Here are the charges being read to the recently demoted Captain Dameron.
The judge, lawyers, witnesses, and Poe himself remained in character for the entire panel, taking the proceedings as seriously as they could with an audience laughing and clapping in the background. It was an impressive feat since the deadpan deliveries of legal barbs were hilariously perfect.
Here is one of my favorite exchanges between the prosecutor and General Organa:
Here’s the defense calling upon Poe to defend himself:
And his cross-examination by the prosecution:
The highlight for me might have been Thomas Harper’s closing arguments against Poe Dameron. It’s so fun to see a topic so silly taken so seriously.
I think this is the best sort of programming to do at conventions. Talking about how well received a movie may or may not be is a lot less fun than getting into the nitty gritty details of a universe. Does Poe Dameron merit a court-martial trial? Were his actions justified? These are much more interesting questions to argue than whether or not a troll that barely likes Star Wars thinks Rian Johnson did a good job or not. (Hint: he did.) It's a fascinating thought exercise that springs out of the questions of the movie. Would Poe face a court-martial?
The full panel was recorded and will be released by The Legal Geeks soon. You’ll get to see Poe try to establish his defense based on Order 66 and the extraordinary circumstances he felt he was under. You’ll be able to catch every perfect reaction from the cosplayers in each role. Keep an eye The Legal Geeks website for that release. And beg your local convention to have them come to do the same at your show. You might not have a better time in a panel than this.
Oh... and the verdict? They found Poe not guilty of Conduct Unbecoming of an Officer, but they did find him guilty on the other two charges. The judge didn't think the universe was safe with Poe's recklessness in it, so he sentenced him to ten years... At Rura Penthe...