Running A Real-Life Legal Rule Over “Breaking Bad”

Running A Real-Life Legal Rule Over "Breaking Bad"

“Breaking Bad” created waves in the legal and ‘non-legal’ community, but now a law student has addressed the issue of just how its characters might have fared if a real-life legal system was imposed.

The New Mexico Law Review has released an edition that examinees a range of issues relating to Walter White, attorney Saul Goodman and others, which generated a cult following internationally. Among the issues that Law Journal editor Matthew Zidovsky wanted examined was the impact of the Fourth Amendment and legal ethics.

“The whole point of the issue is to create a legal dialogue in New Mexico,” Zidovsky said. “Because we know the show so well, it’s easy to break down the legal questions that come up.”

“Breaking Bad” follows former high school teacher Walter White, played by Bryan Cranston, producing methamphetamine with a former student, Jesse Pinkman, played by Aaron Paul while Saul Goodman plays the seedy lawyer who will stop at nothing to win the day for his clients.

Zidovsky said when he watched the show as a law student, he and other students spotted a number of legal problems, from the way Drug Enforcement Administration agents violate constitutional laws during investigations to the unethical lawyering by Saul, who launders money for drug kingpins.

“He was so over the top,” Zidovsky said. “Anything he would do was beyond what is allowed as a professional lawyer.”

Among the articles in the review is a piece by Western State College of Law professor Elizabeth Jones who compares the questionable police tactics by officers in “Breaking Bad” to the U.S. Justice Department’s harsh report into Albuquerque police over excessive force.

Another piece by Utah State University political science professor Greg Goelzhauser looks at the potential prosecution of Walter White to examine how states with no death penalty may affect federal death penalty cases. New Mexico, where “Breaking Bad” is set, does not have the death penalty any longer.

Zidovsky said that article is timely because it comes a week after a federal jury in Boston determined that convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev should get the death penalty in the 2013 attack. Three people were killed and more than 260 were injured when Tsarnaev and his brother placed two pressure-cooker bombs near the marathon finish line.
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