She-Hulk, also known as “Jennifer Susan Walters,” is the cousin of Bruce Banner (aka The Incredible Hulk) and has served as a member of the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D, and… an associate at Goodman, Lieber, Kurtzberg & Holliway, a firm which, in the Marvel Universe, is one of the most prestigious on the East Coast. Naturally, there’s a lot of material for Law and the Multiverse here. In fact, we’ve written a bit about She-Hulk’s issues with legal ethics before.
In issue # 1 of her third solo-series (starting in 2004), She-Hulk was working as an assistant district attorney for New York City. At this point in her life, she was basically living as She-Hulk full-time, only reverting to her Walters form when sleeping (and even then only involuntarily). During closing arguments of a trial, she was called away to help the Avengers save the world from A.I.M. The judge let her do this, because, well, it kind of needed to be done, but he then declared a mistrial when the defense pointed out that the jury could very easily be said to be improperly influenced by the prosecuting attorney saving their collective butts from imminent death. It must be said that defense counsel has a point here, and judges do, in fact, declare mistrials when it seems likely that there is some undue influence going on, something to indicate that the jury is predisposed to favor one side or the other on the basis of anything other than what they’ve seen at trial. So as far as that goes, the writer is correct.
But he’s probably missed something: if a mistrial can be granted because She-Hulk saving the world during trial would improperly influence the jury, then why wouldn’t the jury’s knowledge that she’d done the same thing on countless prior occasions be an issue? One of the things that attorneys ask during voir dire is whether the jurors know basically anyone involved in either side of the case. Having any kind of personal relationship with either attorney would easily constitute grounds to strike for cause, and there would be a good argument for striking jurors whose lives had been saved by the prosecutor. This means that empaneling a jury with She-Hulk as one of the attorneys is going to be almost impossible.
Which, unfortunately, calls into question She-Hulk’s ability to be a litigator at all. This goes beyond just an attorney being a newsworthy figure. Even those attorneys that have attained some kind of media attention for their practice don’t have all that much trouble finding jurors who have never heard of them. Kenneth Starr, the head of the legal team that investigated President Clinton, attained some measure of fame/notoriety, but he’s hardly a household name. But She-Hulk is another matter entirely. She’d be nationally and even internationally known, and she’s definitely portrayed as a celebrity. Everyone knows who she is and what she’s done, though admittedly being seven feet tall and green doesn’t help much there. Showing up as Walters doesn’t necessarily help either, as her mundane identity isn’t secret. So it’s really a question as to whether she could really practice law the way she’s shown to practice it. This is something we’ll probably need to ignore if we want to let the story go on, which is definitely worth doing, because there’s a lot of other stuff in here.
So that’s the first issues of the latest She-Hulk run. The authors get some things right, but so far the presentation of legal issues is only okay. But to be fair the same can be said of most fictional portrayals of the legal system. We’ll continue to look at this series down the road.