Guest Post: Defending Loki

This guest post was written by Joe Suhre, of Suhre & Associates, LLC, a firm with offices in Chicago, Illinois, Dayton, Ohio, and Columbus, Ohio. Joe received a Criminal Justice degree from Xavier University and worked for 6 years as an auxiliary police officer. He later received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Cincinnati.

In the closing sequence of Marvel’s The Avengers, The World Security Council that evidently has the authority to order a nuclear strike on New York City, questions Nick Fury about the disposition of Loki. Calling Loki a war criminal, they ask Mr. Fury why he let Thor take Loki away when he should be answering for his crimes.

In this iteration of the Multiverse, evidently the bureaucracy of the United States has given way to the autocratic decisions of an infighting oligarchy that ignores due process and extradition laws. Well, at least Nick Fury does.

I think I would have rather seen a little more adherence to law and let Loki have his day in a U.S. Court. I say this, because as a criminal defense attorney, I believe there is a reasonable defense for Loki.

Loki’s Past, the Key to His Defense

Based on Loki’s actions and behavior, Loki’s best defense would have to be the truth—he is insane—but not a generic insane; Loki suffers from grandiose delusional disorder, a very complex psychosis where non-hallucination influenced delusions become core beliefs and the main motivation for daily activities.

Loki’s delusions began when he was very young. As his defense attorney, I would chronicle his delusions from early childhood on, showing how specific events helped create and support his grandiose delusions. I would produce expert witnesses and then introduce testimony from Loki’s past that would that Loki’s behavior is consistent with his delusions.

Establishing the Beginning of Loki’s Delusions

Loki was born the son of Laufy, king of the Frost Giants. Laufy kept his infant son in seclusion due to his non-giant size. Odin, leader of the Asgardian gods led his armies to victory against the Frost Giants where Laufy was killed in battle. Loki was discovered hidden in the giant’s main fortress. His size, considered diminutive by his own kind, was actually similar to Odin and other Asgardians. Odin took Loki back to Asgard and raised him alongside his biological son Thor.

Even though Loki was raised as a god in Odin’s court, he would eventually learn the truth; Odin, Loki’s father since he could remember, destroyed Loki’s true family. He would never be favored above Thor. He was a “god” by association, not by blood. Despite his home address, Asgardians did not respect him as they did Thor.

As Thor rose from favor to more favor, the contradictions in Loki’s circumstances drove him to seek out the dark arts and mischief.

Expert Witnesses

After going over his past, I would bring in a child psychiatrist as an expert witness who would explain how the tragic and ironic events in Loki’s life from infancy to adulthood led him to replace the realities of his life with delusions.

My next expert witness would be an adult psychiatrist who had interviewed Loki extensively. I would have him or her explain the complexity of delusion disorder to the court and describe Loki’s dominant delusions. Since I am not a psychiatrist, I don’t know everything a doctor would find. My assumption would be that Loki’s main delusions would be his belief that he is the rightful king of Asgard, that he is smarter than everyone, and that as king of Asgard he is the rightful ruler of Midgard (Earth).

Corroborating the Findings of the Experts

Expert witnesses are indispensable to back up an insanity plea but equally vital are the actions and statements of the accused that would back up the claims of the experts. My next witness would show examples of Loki’s behavior that matched the findings of my experts.

Some of the instances I would use would be the following:

  • Loki’s introduction in the Avengers, “I am Loki of Asgard, and I am burdened with glorious purpose.”
  • Loki demanding a crowd of people to kneel to him and when they do states, “Is not this simpler? Is this not your natural state? It’s the unspoken truth of humanity, that you crave subjugation. The bright lure of freedom diminishes your life’s joy in a mad scramble for power, for identity. You were made to be ruled. In the end, you will always kneel.”
  • You are, all of you are beneath me. I am a god, you dull creature, and I will not be bullied…
  • Bruce Banner’s assessment was also an interesting observation, “I don’t think we should be focusing on Loki. That guy’s brain is a bag full of cats, you could smell crazy on him.”

Interspersed between Loki’s moments of delusion are cases where he acts normal and even helpful. This is typical for grandiose delusion disorder since people suffering from the same exhibit normal behavior when they aren’t trying to advance their delusions.

Conclusions

This part of the trial would typically be quite lengthy because we are attempting to establish a severe mental illness that would explain his crimes and his mental state during that time. We would not dispute the facts of the case, only the intent of the accused and his ability or inability to distinguish the morality of his actions.

We may weave through our defense the “McNaughton rule.” This rule creates a presumption of sanity, unless the defense proves “at the time of committing the act, the accused was laboring under such a defect of reason, from disease of the mind, as not to know the nature and quality of the act he was doing or, if he did know it, that he did not know what he was doing was wrong.” The McNaughton rule is the standard for insanity in almost half of the states.

In 1972, the American Law Institute, a panel of legal experts, developed a new rule for insanity as part of the Model Penal Code. This rule says that a defendant is not responsible for criminal conduct where (s)he, as a result of mental disease or defect, did not possess “substantial capacity either to appreciate the criminality of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law.” This new rule was based on the District of Columbia Circuit’s decision in the federal appellate case, United States v. Brawner, 471 F.2d 969 (1972).

One of the most famous recent uses of the insanity defense came in United States v. Hinckley, concerning the assassination attempt against then-President Ronald Reagan.

In 1984, Congress passed, and President Ronald Reagan signed, the Comprehensive Crime Control Act. The federal insanity defense now requires the defendant to prove, by “clear and convincing evidence,” that “at the time of the commission of the acts constituting the offense, the defendant, as a result of a severe mental disease or defect, was unable to appreciate the nature and quality or the wrongfulness of his acts” (18 U.S.C. § 17). This is generally viewed as a return to the “knowing right from wrong” standard. The Act also contained the Insanity Defense Reform Act of 1984, 18 U.S.C. § 4241, which sets out sentencing and other provisions for dealing with offenders who are or have been suffering from a mental disease or defect.

The Verdict

Proving Loki’s delusion wouldn’t be difficult. However, on top of his grandiose delusion disorder is his Asgardian culture that believes in the glory of war, utterly destroying one’s enemies, and a totalitarian monarchy, that would further qualify him as being “unable to appreciate the nature and quality or the wrongfulness of his acts,” under Federal guidelines.

Even though John Hinckley, Jr. was found not guilty by reason of insanity, he has yet to be given unsupervised released from his hospital. Loki would most likely receive similar treatment after his verdict. However, maybe after 100 years of therapy and counseling Loki could be cured and lead a normal autocratic warrior life in Asgard.

70 Responses to Guest Post: Defending Loki

  1. I’m not sure if Loki would pass the test. Somewhat justified delusions of grandeur aside, he’s not, legally speaking, insane, in that he can comprehend the criminality of his actions. Also, if you’re going by the movies, Odin didn’t kill Laufey. In fact, Loki killed Laufey in Thor, which raises an interesting question: since Loki arranged for Laufey to be able to attack the comatose Odin, intending to betray Laufey to make it look like he was “defending” Odin and Odin’s wife Frigga, is Loki guilty of murder if he was the mastermind behind the assassination attempt, or is it justifiable homicide?

    • I’m not a lawyer, but I think it’s far from justifiable. Even if he killed Laufey in self defense he would be legally at fault if he was the one that caused the altercation to happen in the first place. As defense of others – arranging the attack on Asgard is like pushing someone in front of a car to have an excuse to kill the driver. Besides just not being a valid defense, it would make things worse by proving premeditation.

    • Levi.
      Thank you for pointing out the conundrum of the Marvel Multiverse, especially as it applies to Loki and the entire Asgardian gang. The Sagas and Eddas of Iceland, Norwegian folklore, Marvel comic books, Marvel Movies, and even present day Asatru gatherings, all detail the genealogy and history of Asgard. They disagree on multiple details. In our modern culture however, the movies are becoming the common reference. I hesitated to bring up Laufy, knowing of the conflicting plot points between the movies and the literature. Within the context of the article though, you make a valid point. I should have defaulted to the movie plot.

      As far as Loki’s sanity, I mentioned in my article that the sanity defense would be a lengthy process. The movies just show the tip of the iceberg. An actual trial defense would need to pull information from the comic books and the other sources above to be complete. Within that broader setting, I believe you would be able to show Loki had little understanding of right and wrong; at least from an earthly perspective.

      I see little in common between the moral code of US law and the capricious judgments of Asgard. Loki’s misguided belief that he is Asgard’s rightful king means he wouldn’t see any of his actions against earth as having any moral consequences. We are however, defending him in a US court under US law, which means he would be afforded the same rights as any defendant in our system.

      • The comics are not canon. If you mean the original comics, they are a different character (basically an alternate universe); if you mean the movie tie-in comics, they are also not canon as the movies have contradicted them and the movies take precedence (eg. Loki meets Malekith in one issue and he resembles his original comic-book counterpart; he is nothing like the Malekith in Thor 2, whom Loki does not know).

        Loki does not claim to be the rightful King of Asgard; he claims he WAS the rightful king of Asgard. He is trying to regain his throne. He never tried to justify his actions in The Avengers along those lines; he tried to justify them by saying that humans are inferior and exist to be ruled by beings like him. As far as Asgard is concerned, he is exaggerating the former and he is wrong on the latter, and its likely just an excuse anyway-I find it hard to believe that attacking Earth was anything but a ploy to somehow get back into and take over Asgard, and if I was the prosecution I’d not be afraid to bring that up. In other words, Earth meant nothing to him and whether he was worshipped as a god or not was irrelevant.

        Sending the Destroyer to attack a small town to draw out and kill Thor might be legally okay as far as Asgard is concerned, if he was the rightful king then (though he got to that position after committing illegal acts, so he’s not delusional to claim he was rightful, but he’s skirting the truth), but nobody is charging him for that. Earth wants him for New York, and he wasn’t the rightful king of Asgard then and he doesn’t claim he was. Asgard wants him for treason, murder, attempted murder and attempted genocide.

  2. Loki is a Frost Giant by race and, I suppose, legally an Asguardian…from the Asguardian point of view. Here on Earth he’s an alien and, based upon previous posts, has no legal standing and no right to due process. The introduction of non-humans has been too recent for it to be likely for laws haveing been changed to encompass them.

    If they did, I’d throw the fairly traumatic experience of falling from the Bifros into the void in to the insanty mix.

  3. And while we’re at it, there’s Loki’s actions in Germany in Avengers, from murder to terrorism to whatever else the German authorities might want to extradite for…after Washington and Asgard City were done with him.

  4. I’m not so sure the bureaucracy in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is that much different from ours. What Nick Fury did wasn’t much different from an extraordinary rendition. Thor was a valid representative of a foreign government, albeit one that does not have official diplomatic recognition by the United States, and Asgard was indicating they were going to try Loki for genocide themselves. It’s actually possible the handover was fully legal – an extradition hearing might only be warranted anyhow if Loki was opposing the extradition (I admit this isn’t an area of the law I am up on) and he might well have decided he’d rather be tried by Asgardian law than US law.

    I’d also say I don’t think Loki is legally insane. He knew his actions were “wrong” in so far as they were violations of the law. It’s worth noting that he indicated repeatedly he knew his actions were wrong by Asgard law too. The fact that he chose to overturn the law because he felt he was the better ruler does not make him insane. He knew he wasn’t supposed to be doing what he did.

    He might actually have a better argument that he was under a compulsion to act (imposed by Thanatos) or that he was being forced to act (again by Thanatos) although I doubt either argument would succeed.

    • Thanos.

      And yeah, it probably wouldn’t succeed, especially since its not true (and Thor and others could attest that his behaviour predates meeting Thanos). He might be better off saying he was coerced, which was at least partly true (since The Other appeared to torture him as a warning), although really we, the audience, can probably say quite safely that Loki was doing exactly what he wanted to.

      • I would argue the point of whether or not it’s true. His actions prior to the fall from the Bifrost have rather different motivations. I do believe that at this point he didn’t necessarily want the throne, he wanted Odin’s love, which he’d never felt he had. Getting Thor out of the way, permanently, was about eliminating the other possible target for that love. Killing Jotunheim was meant to prove himself a worthy Asgardian, copying SPOILERS the attempted genocide of the Dark Elves by Odin’s father Bor. In The Avengers, whatever he might say, it never really seems to be about Earth, because his plans are terrible. Or at least insufficiently complex for his stated abilities (magic and plotting).

        Whether he was controlled or coerced, one of the two is true, but its impossible to tell. Loki seemed to use the Chitauri Invasion as a means to an end, that end being returning to Asgard. Whether he was still suicidal, or hadn’t counted on Odin being prepared to execute him if not for Frigga, if he anticipated imprisonment, he thought he could get out of it if given the opportunity. Taking the throne of Asgard this time is, as far as they seem to be setting it up, with things the cast have said in interviews, about preparing for the inevitable return of Thanos, particularly since they may have the Infinity Gauntlet in the Asgardian Treasure Room.

      • His motives have changed (somewhat; ultimately, it still all stems from resentment, jealousy and an inferiority complex), but his behaviour is not unprecedented. If anything his actions in Thor 1 were worse- attempted xenocide versus world domination and all that.

        Neither controlled nor coerced are necessarily true. He may or may not have wished to take over the Earth (his plan may indeed have been terrible, but that could just mean that he seriously underestimated humanity; plus, its not like he’s led an invasion before, so far as we know). We don’t know the circumstances of his involvement with Thanos but the dialogue between him and the Other – along the lines of “remember what he (Thanos) has done for you”- suggests that the plan was Loki’s idea- you give me an army, I give you the Tesseract, because I know where it is and I know the planet. Sounds like he was trying to make himself useful and get something out of it at the same time. So coercion likely only applies insofar as he wasn’t allowed to back out from what he set in motion.

        Can’t find this anywhere, but I’m sure I saw a quote from the producers after the Avengers came out that Loki got exactly what he wanted at the end of that film, which presumably meant that the whole invasion was a ruse to get a hold of the Tesseract and get himself and it back to Asgard. And…then work something out. Do bear in mind that it was Loki, not Odin, who sent the Aether to the Collector, which sets of the plot of GotG, which involves Thanos. This could all be part of a grander plan.

  5. What I’d like to see now is the case for the prosecution.

    • The prosecution case is pretty easy for this one, surely? You have plenty of charges to pick from – you can easily save a few for later – and there are a lot of respectable witnesses. (Clint Barton and Steve Rogers alone are a pretty damning set of witness testimony, although putting Stark or Banner on the stand is something of a risk.)

      The prosecution’s only problem is picking apart the one defence that might work – the one outlined above. Thor’s testimony will be helpful here – remember, Loki committed to his first Asgardian invasion plan before he knew the truth of his parentage. While that’s not a fact of the case directly, being a crime committed outside SHIELD’s jurisdiction, it could easily be introduced as evidence that Loki’s criminal ambition predates the causes of his insanity.

      (A court is unlikely to be sympathetic to the suggestion that just “growing up second in line for the throne” is in itself a justification for anything.)

      • If you’re referring to the Jotnar in the treasure room, his own justification seems to have been proving a point to Odin regarding Thor, not trying to replace Thor at that point. Not that it’s any less of a crime against Asgardian law, probably, but in arguing intent and a pattern of behaviour, it’s important.

    • Actually, the only justification he gives for it that I recall was “just a bit of fun”.

  6. If you are a being with supernatural powers and second in line to the throne in a monarchy with real powers, is the desire to rule the worlds a delusion or just ambition?

    Second, isn’t Nick Fury a member of an international military organization? Under what basis would he hand over prisoners to the US? And if he did, isn’t that a violation of posse comitatus?

    • Not only is acting like a would be tyrant not a delusion if you’re Loki. that applies to some of the other things he said. Claiming “I am a god” when you’re literally the same being listed as a god in our encyclopedias really has nothing to do with delusions. Yeah, in a way they’re just powerful aliens who we once thought to be gods, but even then, these circumstances are very different from a normal person suddenly calling himself a god.

      Also, how does US law deal with civil wars and usurpers in other countries anyway? Any losing faction in a civil war has, merely by virtue of acting as a government and doing government-like things, “murdered” (used military force), “kidnapped” (put people in jail), “stolen” (collected taxes), etc. Does that automatically turn the losers in a civil war into international criminals as well just because they used force in ways that are legal for governments?

    • Seeing as the most notorious of his several crimes against the humanities were committed in NYC – on US soil – a case for extradition from the UN to the USA could be made…although I’m not sure which venue would host the extradition hearing and under what rules.

  7. What is the jury selection standard for the World Security Council? If Loki were tried in the U.S., wouldn’t they need to get Asgardians or Frost Giants in order for him to be tried by a group of his peers?

  8. Dillon.

    As has been shown in jury cases since the foundation of the US Government, the term “peers” does not place any such requirements upon the Court. The jurists need not all be of the same Race (no need for all-black, all-asian, all-mixed-race, etc), Gender (no need for all male or all female), Social Standing (no need for all wealthy or all poor) or affiliation (no need for all Democrat, or all racist).

    The Supreme Court determined that the term “peers” was meant to indicate “citizens of legal age”. This allows the States to create prospective jury pools from a combination of Voter Registration rolls & DMV records. This goes back to the Declaration of Independence’s “All Men Are Created Equal”… thus, they are all “peers”.

    • If “peers” were more narrowly defined the whole system would break down – imagine what would happen if defendants could insist on a jury composed only of criminals!

      • James Pollock

        Wouldn’t demanding a jury of all criminals be a confession?

      • Terry Washington

        What’s the voir dire for a prospective juror in a hypothetical trial of Loki? His/her attitudes to self styled deities or superhumanly powered beings(heroes and villains alike)? Why not try him by military tribunal as were the co-conspirators in the 1865 assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, the German saboteurs in 1942( under FDR) and more recently the “enemy combatants” in Guantanamo Bay?

  9. Assume, arguendo, that the Loki in quo was Loki-1610 (Ultimate Universe), and not Loki-199999 (Movie).

    Under this scenario, Loki M’OdinSon is half god on his father’s side; if it becomes impossible to deliver goods due to destruction caused by his misdeeds, would the seller be excused as the failure was caused by an act of half-god? Would damages be halved? What if the destruction was caused by a demi-god (e.g. Hercules)?

    What about the Phoenix Force (directly incarnate, rather than resident in a human agent)? Would it be necessary to prove that the entity responsible was not Jean Grey or a clone thereof?

    Also, if, at some time when Loki-6150 retained the power to shuffle time-and-space, he were to be arrested, charged with a criminal offense, and were held in circumstances prohibiting the use of his powers, could he plead Autrefois Acquit, given that upon his release, or during some inevitable escape, he could subsequently alter the past to make that statement true?

  10. The above defense is why I have trouble taking court “experts” seriously. Loki was (and is) a significantly superior being in terms of strength, health, intelligence, longevity, and the ability to cast powerful spells. To see himself as equivalent to humans would be, in fact, the delusion.

    Whedon did an excellent job of intertwining the actual superiority of Loki with the claimed superiority of other tyrants, including the (very) obvious reference to Hitler.

    Loki self-evidently knew what he was doing the entire time; to him, humans are innately inferior, and are as such not subject to the same moral concern he might accord to a fellow being. We were almost literally like cattle to him. When is the last time anyone worried about the rights of cows, PETA excepted?

    • I suppose that Loki could make an argument to this effect in front of an Asgardian court, but it fails on two counts:
      One, humans are still sentient beings. The gap between Asgardian and human in that regard does not appear to be much (this is, presumably, a side-effect of Asgardians being fictional beings created by real-life humans).
      Two, in this scenario, Loki is tried before a human court. I do not believe that a defense of “my client is an extremely powerful alien/god, therefore he can’t be punished for crimes committed against “lower beings” i.e. everyone in this courtroom. That’s not how the justice system works. Especially not when compared to all of the other Asgardians (Thor, Odin) who haven’t tried to take over the world and kill people, thus suggesting that Loki committed his crimes because he is Loki, not because he is Asgardian. Comparing the prosecutor, the judge and the jury and everyone they know to cows is not a good way to get court sympathy.
      Lastly, I don’t think that an Asgardian court would be any more sympathetic, though that might be the result of Loki being an Asgardian expatriate wanted for crimes against the king.

      • In Thor: The Dark World Loki actually DID make that argument to an Asgardian court (if by “court” we mean marched in chains before his monarch / father Odin). It was dismissed since Odin didn’t accept that they were gods, though the fact that he was on trial for crimes committed in Asgard / against Asgardians probably mattered more here (especially since said crimes were against Odin and Thor, Odin’s other son). The fact that he was an Asgardian prince and temporarily Asgards dictator meant that his actions against Earth and Jotunheimm constituted an unsanctioned act of war.

        No, they aren’t all that sympathetic. Odin actually says he was prepared to execute him but his wife Frigga- ergo Loki’s foster mother- got it commuted to centuries of imprisonment.

  11. Ummm, Odin didn’t kill Laufey. Loki did. It happened in the first Thor movie. . .

  12. I do not expect to have any difficulty qualifying Ms. Danielle Moonstar of Earth-616, and Ms. Barbara Norriss, late of Earth-1610, as expert witnesses on the subject of the social status of humans in Asgards.
    Whilst Ms. Norris may face a tough cross, the danger of opening up all sorts of collateral issues (as well as all sorts of collateral damage if Thor gets pissed) make this a good bet.

    I would also think about whether Bova could testify on the status of cow and cow-like persons. I’m sure Crystal a written deposition by Black Bolt would suffice to qualify her. Defense can question him orally should it desire. Prosecution waives its right to be present but does not waive its right to notice sufficient to get behind a few more mountains.

  13. Of course I’m not sure what the rules of evidence are for expert witness from another timeline.

  14. It seems that there was a deleted scene that established that Loki was placed ahead of Thor before Odin fell into a coma. How would being the heir to the throne affect the case?

  15. I think Loki actually has a pronounced Inferiority Complex, which may underline the case for his Grandiose Delusional Disorder (or at least that he has a sufficiently extreme case of it to be labelled legally insane) since, while he does have ideas and beliefs about his own superiority, deep down he actually feels worthless.

    He is probably an example of Millon’s Compensatory Narcissist, with his ideas of grandeur being a constructed fantasy designed, essentially, to make him feel better about himself, and thus he is probably mostly, aware that his claims to superiority are not true (unlikely to seriously admit to it, but aware). He also shows signs of a Borderline Personality, with his identity disturbance, feelings of worthlessness, self-destructive tendencies and habit of taking out his frustrations on family members (in part because he knows they will forgive him, or at least still love him), and a desire to be loved or praised.

    And of course, he shows all the signs of an Anti-Social and Sadistic Personality, neither of which will endear him to a judge or jury if proven, which they likely will be. In any case having a disorder of any sort is not sufficient to be declared legally insane, except perhaps when the disorder is especially extreme to the point where the subject truly cannot tell the difference between legally right and wrong; in the case of Loki, we know that is not true, because he demonstrates several times that he knows that others people and the laws of these various lands consider his actions to be legally wrong.

    • Without offering any judgment on Loki’s mental state, he does complain, and bitterly, of knowing only Thor’s shadow, of hearing endlessly of Thor’s greatness, in The Avengers.

  16. I think it would be more concise to simply say “you cannot prosecute my client because he is the villain. “

  17. I don’t believe Banner’s assessment is reliable considering that he is not a qualified psychiatrist.

    In any case looking at the example of Thor, Freya and even Odin it seems clear to me that Loki’s actions (particularly deliberately launching an invasion force in a city populated by civilians) do not meet the Asgardian ideal at all.

    • “I don’t believe Banner’s assessment is reliable considering that he is not a qualified psychiatrist.”

      Hard to say. The movie origin for the Hulk (a failed attempt to dublicate the Super-Soldier serum) suggests that Banner may be a medical doctor. He was definitely a medical doctor in the TV origin story.

      • James Pollock

        And besides, Banner actually met and interacted with Loki, so he can testify as to his own observations, whether he qualifies as an expert or not.

      • I don’t know what a court’s general standards are for what medical doctors are permitted to speak on, but there is still a major difference between a general medical practitioner (or even a specialized one) and a psychiatrist.

        Also being in his presence only means that Banner saw Loki, it doesn’t mean he had the opportunity for extended observation for the purposes of determining sanity.

      • His assessment of Loki (who he never really met) was “That guy’s brain is a bag full of cats, you could smell crazy on him.” So either he’s not a qualified psychiatrist, or he is a really obviously bad one. Regardless, I don’t think his opinion counts for much.

  18. That reminds me. Would Loki allow his enemies to claim he’s insane? If not, what happens?

    • I’m fairly sure that a number of people with the sort of severe mental illness we’re talking about do not believe themselves to have a mental illness. I believe usually there’s some sort of assessment of capacity by qualified psychiatrists to see if they have the ability to plead guilty/non-guilty etc.

      • But who is a specialist on the psychology of an alien species? Even if the court is ready to disregard that issue, which psychiatrist can evaluate a patient who is hundreds of years old and raised among aliens?

      • There doesn’t seem to be any significant difference between the psychology of humans and Asgardians, and likely not between either and the bulk of sentient aliens in the universe. Thor could probably help establish that as well.

        Also, mental illness =/= insanity.

      • Terry Washington

        Perhaps Loki could apply for a change of venue, citing public prejudice against not just self-proclaimed deities but “super-villains” in general in New York likely to cloud the judgement of potential jurors. Similar claims have been made during the NI “Troubles” with Nationalist/Republican spokesmen accusing several judges(both in the “Province” and on the “mainland” UK) of harbouring sectarian(anti-Roman Catholic) and generically anti-Irish biases.
        Whilst these claims have yet to be upheld, not only must justice be done, it must be SEEN to be done!

    • A prejudice against Catholics or Irish is not remotely comparable to a prejudice against would-be tyrants and supervillains. Might as well say New York is prejudiced against would-be and actual thieves, rapists and murderers.

      • The defendant could move for a change of venue under Rule 21 (a). Assuming that the media-199999 is as well behaved as media-616 et. al., there are grounds to presume prejudice.

        Failing that, using a telepath at voir dire should be able to detect actual prejudice, which ought to be grounds for challenge for cause for the entire panel. [whether a temporary mind-wipe of prejudicial knowledge, monitored by both parties, could cure this. Presumably jurors would regularly be shielded once selected, and and psi-shielded and monitored for evidence of jury tampering as part of any major criminal trial.]

  19. Terry Washington

    I’m not certain if a US court( whether the State of New York or a US Federal Court) is a fit place for Loki(or any self proclaimed deity). Firstly as a “god” he could demand the right to be tried by his peers( fellow deities) not mere mortals- just as Moondragon was brought before Odin when Thor and his fellow Avengers thwarted her plan to conquer the Universe and secondly what prison could hold an individual possessing such power as he does! Perhaps the International Criminal Court in the Hague could address the issue of jurisdiction but as the US has neither signed or ratified it(indeed Obama like Bush before him has expressly asserted that the ICC has no jurisdiction over the US military or by implication Americans as a class), it is difficult to see how this matter can be resolved!

    • As mentioned above the term “peers” means only “citizens of legal age”; as far as the court is concerned, mere mortals ARE his peers. Beyond that, none of his fellow Asgardians are citizens of the United States anyway, and all of his crimes on Earth (bar his attack in Germany) were committed in the United States (so international courts are mostly a non-issue).

      And “self-proclaimed deity” is a broad term. Maxie Zeus from Batman is a “self-proclaimed deity”, but that doesn’t mean the court should scour the insane asylums for people who think they are Poseidon or Ra just so he gets people on his side. And bare in mind that Asgardians as a whole do not consider themselves deities in the Marvel movie verse.

  20. I loved your article. Personally, I find slapping Loki with the label “war criminal” appalling in itself. Doesn’t this actually diminish war crimes? Although Loki invaded Earth with an alien army, I didn’t see him commit any actual war crimes. To my knowledge, he didn’t torture prisoners or gas people or inter people in camps or even attack weddings with drones. His invasion might have resulted in loss of life (two thousand casualties, I think the movie states at one point–when Thor says, “He’s adopted) but aren’t there always casualties in war? That’s just normal war, isn’t it? Loki’s biggest crime is that he lost. Marvel’s biggest crime is diluting the meaning of the term “war criminal.”

    • Terry Washington

      Who’d want to defend Loki anyway- but if even the defeated Axis officials could find lawyers to represent them at Nuremburg and other international war crimes tribunals, as do Mafia dons, violent white supremacists, serial killers paedophiles(priestly and other wise),and more recently Islamic fundamentalists, then why not a self proclaimed Asgardian deity?

      • The law requires that everybody is entitled to (and will get) legal defence. Whether anyone wants to defend the client in question is irrelevant- if they refuse or don’t do it to the best of their ability they WILL be disbarred. The Nazi’s at Nuremberg didn’t find anybody; they were ASSIGNED their attorneys (though they had the right to ask for a different one, or defend themselves which- wisely- none of them did).

        There are of course lawyers out there who do cater to disreputable clientele`, and a few who seem to enjoy the notoriety of it, but that’s irrelevant. The lawyer can despise their client and think they are guilty as hell- they STILL have to defend them. And if for some reason they can’t or won’t, another lawyer will be found.

    • With regards to war crimes, his Chitauri army is seen gunning down civilians in cold blood (or attempting to). That, yes, is a war crime.

      Also he never formally declared war (rather, he said he was going to crush us like ants), another no-no.

      Then there is his brainwashing of enemy soldiers and civilian scientists- pretty sure that could count as slave labour, also a war crime.

      So yes, I think calling him a war criminal is justified. In fact the only reason its legally iffy is that Loki is not the representative of any country that any nation on Earth formally recognises and is not, thus, capable of waging war. But he’d still be guilty of Crimes Against Humanity- in his case, literally.

      • Jonathan,
        Let me preface this by saying that I’m not trying to be sarcastic, I’m honestly curious about how this works. I don’t understand how the war crimes committed by Loki’s army are Loki’s war crimes. LBJ was Commander and Chief at the time of the My Lai Massacre, but I don’t think he was ever charged with a war crime. Same thing with Abu ghraib–those certainly smell like war crimes, but Bush was never charged with anything. (Honestly, I find LBJ and Bush much more disgusting than Loki, but maybe that’s just because they aren’t adorable. And really, if Hiddles looked like Cheney, I wouldn’t even be here.)

      • Terry Washington

        So what if Loki never formally declared war against the US(and by extension the people of Earth)? in reality neither Al Qaeda or the USSR formally declared war , but made clear by word and deed their hostility to us!

      • LBJ was not involved in the My Lai massacre, except in the general sense that he was in charge of the US at the time and commanded the war effort. Although it was not the only war crime committed during the Vietnam War by US forces, neither was any order given by the President to commit it. The commander-in-chief is not responsible for specific crimes carried out by individual soldiers, unless he either gave the order or explicitly condoned such actions beforehand. Responsibility for a war crime begins with whoever originally issued the order and continues downward towards the perpetrators.

        Al-Qaeda are not at war with the United States or anyone else; Only states can be in a state of war. Al-Qaeda and other such extremists are basically criminals; Abu Ghraib raises issues over international law, but not war crimes.

        Attacking a nation without declaring war on it beforehand is itself a war crime; the USSR never even attacked the United States, but if they had it would have been a war crime unless they declared it first. Loki attacked without declaring war and, thus, he could be charged with a war crime (that and others).

        The only issue with him is, as I said, the fact that only states can be in a state of war, and Loki is in a bit of a legal limbo there. Firstly, he is an independent actor affiliated with no country (as Asgard has rejected him) so whether he represents the empire of Thanos is questionable; secondly, no country on Earth is even aware of the empire of Thanos, let alone recognises it, and if nobody recognises it then its technically not considered a state and, thus, the United States cannot be at war with it. They would probably recognise it quickly if they knew about it, but that still leaves Loki in a fix (with regards to whether he should be tried as a war criminal or just a plain criminal) since Loki still attacked Earth before that.

        Of course, that also raises the question of whether Loki even has the power to declare war or not; ultimately, the real war criminal in that regard would be Thanos.

      • Terry Washington

        HOW the hell can we find a form of execution for Loki (a deity) when it’s hard enough to execute superhumanly powered mortals like Wolverine(pardon the pun!)?
        Also I dispute the claim as LBJ did not order the My Lai massacre he was de facto innocent. Neither he as President or his successor Richard Nixon did nothing to punish the ringleader of the massacre, US Army Lt William Calley-I think Nixon pardoned Calley before resigning the Presidency. As we saw with the Yamashita case- a Japanese Army general was executed after WWII for a massacre he neither ordered or sanctioned-he simply did nothing to prevent it.
        As Harry S.Truman pithily noted- “the buck stops here!”(with the President in the Oval Office) in the American system of government.

  21. A couple of stray thoughts …

    Regarding Midgardians as an inferior race is not confined to Loki. In T2, Odin refers to Jane’s presence in Asgard as being equivalent to ‘a goat in the feast hall’ (or words to that effect). That isn’t to say he feels it’s okay to kill or enslave them — he brought an army to repulse a Jotunn invasion of Midgard, and Thor is required to swear to defend the Nine Realms (of which Midgard is one) — but the case could be made that Loki was raised in that racist mindset.

    There’s also the influence of the Tesseract to consider. It’s described in AoS as being evil, and it does seem to be in some way sentient (Barton, Selvig, and Loki all refer to it as ‘she/her’ and attribute actions and purpose to it). The GoD is linked to it and seems to amp up negative emotions just by being in the room — and Loki spends a lot of time walking around with it in his hand.

    • Being raised in a racist mindset won’t ever be considered a valid defence. Plenty of people have committed racist crimes and still been punished for them despite being raised in a racist culture or household.

      The Tesseract isn’t evil, whatever AoS says, and even if it was his crimes predate acquiring it. The AoS team call it evil because they don’t know any better. The Tesseract is actually the Space Stone; its purpose is simply to open doorways between worlds and bend space. Loki didn’t use it to brainwash or corrupt anybody nor was he corrupted by it himself; his spear had a different source and, again, he was a genocidal lunatic before he got his hands on it. His spear does that because its a weapon of Thanos, and while the Stone may be sentient and have a will of its own we still don’t know enough to call it evil or ascribe to it sinister purpose.

      • Would Loki’s crimes and behavior prior to the Earth invasion even be considered relevant if he were being tried by an Earth court? Is there precedent in the Marvel universe for Earth courts having jurisdiction outside Earth? As far as being genocidal goes, Odin is also genocidal, so this seems to be an Asgardian societal norm. (Odin is also a flaming hypocrite, but that’s beside the point.) Their culture is completely different. By modern standards, the Vikings, themselves, would be considered war criminals. (I’m pretty sure some buttsore monks would testify to that.)

      • Some of his crimes were committed on Earth (eg. sending the Destroyer to smash and kill until Thor showed up); as for his crimes in Asgard (and against Jottunheim), yes they would matter. Having a history of genocidal mania would be relevant here.

        Odin also having displayed genocidal tendencies doesn’t mean that its an “Asgard societal norm”; that two people from the same family endorse the same crime doesn’t count against an entire society or species. And the circumstances were different, not to mention he wasn’t portrayed s being in the right; his flaming hypocrisy is absolutely NOT besides the point- it IS the point, as it demonstrates that even by his own standards he is on morally shaky ground.

        Earth courts don’t give a shit what kind of society you come from. As far as they are concerned, as long as you are in a country, you obey its laws. Doesn’t matter if murder and genocide are acceptable and normal where you come from; doesn’t matter even if you are ignorant of the law (which Loki clearly was not) or ignorant of the CONCEPT of law- you do the crime, you do the time. Period. The only exceptions are for the mentally incompetent (and those who can blag or barter their way out of it), and those may be detained on other grounds anyway.

      • well, isn’t there also the great exception of plea bargaining as well? As in, I give you Thanos, and you let me walk? It seems to me that Loki’s post-sentencing cooperation could be extremely valuable.

      • He CAN’T give us Thanos. He can name him and tell us stuff about him, but neither he nor anyone he knows- including the governments of Earth- are capable of bringing Thanos here to stand trial. For a plea bargain to work we’d either have to be capable of arresting Thanos or already have him in custody; as it happens, not only is Thanos is completely beyond our reach, its likely that he is so powerful and dangerous that we probably wouldn’t be able to keep him prisoner in the first place. Not to mention he seems to be based on Ultimate Thanos so he’s got a hostile intergalactic empire backing him up as well.

        What Loki could plea for would be more likely exchanging information on an enemy power in return for a lighter sentence- that is, the USA doesn’t execute him. He’d reveal that Earth is now technically in a state of war with an evil alien force and he can help us fight it, but no way would any court let him walk. He’d be put in a Super Super-MAX prison (“super” super because he’s superhuman) and might be given special privileges (eg. books to read) in return for his co-operation, but he’d never be allowed out.

      • “his spear had a different source”

        Natasha’s use of the spear to shut down the Tesseract portal (because ‘you can’t defend against yourself’) would tend to contradict that.

  22. Then it sounds like Loki would be in the same position as Armin Zola after he was captured by Col. Chester Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones) in the Captain America movie….I think I remember Tommy Lee Jones referring to enemy intelligence as “according to my new best friend” (i.e. Zola). Seems to me there’s a lot of plea bargaining in the Marvel universe.

    • Not quite. Loki had more freedom than Zola and was clearly pursuing his own agenda- namely world domination (whether the world in question is Earth, or Asgard, or all Nine worlds, it doesn’t paint him in a good picture) plus he’s a god (or demigod to borrow Stark’s phrase) who possesses magical powers of illusion.

      In short, Loki- unlike Zola- is the single most dangerous criminal humanity has ever faced. Any information he gives has to be treated far more suspiciously since it can be assumed that Loki will constantly be trying to find a way to escape and somehow gain control of a world again. Plus Thanos, unlike the Red Skull, is a distant threat so while the intelligence is credible the threat is not imminent. That puts Loki in a weaker position which means he might not be too forthcoming.

      We don’t know what happened to Zola in-between movies, though he’s confirmed to be in the sequel; regardless it can be safely assumed that he was treated better than Loki would have been.

      • sucks to be Loki, then….even Zola was treated better by Red Skull (“Not a scratch, doctor, not a scratch!”) than Loki was by Thanos and the Other.

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