Movie References in Judicial Opinions

I’m generally skeptical of movie and pop culture references in judicial opinions, as they usually get more points for being cute than for being illuminating. But today’s opinion by Judge Kavanaugh in Uthman v. Obama had a movie reference that I thought worked pretty well. The issue in the case was whether there was enough evidence to believe that Uthman was a part of Al Qaeda and could be detained at Gitmo. The Court’s conclusion: Yes, there was. Here’s the paragraph, with the reference in bold:

Uthman’s account piles coincidence upon coincidence upon coincidence. Here, as with the liable or guilty party in any civil or criminal case, it remains possible that Uthman was innocently going about his business and just happened to show up in a variety of extraordinary places – a kind of Forrest Gump in the war against al Qaeda. But Uthman’s account at best strains credulity; and the far more likely explanation for the plethora of damning circumstantial evidence is that he was part of al Qaeda.

I think that works: It’s just one phrase, but it manages to evoke the distinctive plot of a well-known movie in a way that conjures up the image pretty effectively.

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