Traumafessions :: Reader Brayden H. on the Brutal Beating of Johnny Five

johnny five is alive

This one part in a movie from my childhood made me cry so hard. The crooks beating up Johnny Five. That was my personal nightmare.

There, there Brayden, I know the scene is highly upsetting, but the legal proceedings that followed the savage beating were, believe it or not, even more disturbing. Studied by first year law students across the country, and still heavily debated in criminal prosecution circles, the beating of Johnny Five produced one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in the late ‘80s with the case of People v. DeBarge, et al. Traditionally, witnesses in criminal prosecutions utilized the Fifth Amendment to avoid answering questions that may incriminate them. In People v. DeBarge, et al., the witness for the defense opted not to take the Fifth, and instead took the unusual and unprecedented move of repeatedly badgering the prosecuting attorney with the singsong response, “Who is Johnny?” A subsequent courtroom appearance by then glamorous starlet ALLY SHEEDY, in what appeared to be an acid-wash apron, and a cardboard cutout of STEVE GUTTENBERG further deadlocked the jury, which led the prosecuting attorney to suffer a nervous breakdown and don a pair of GROUCHO MARX glasses. The judge had no choice but to declare a mistrial, and the perpetrators responsible for the beating walked. Whereas Johnny Five was repaired after his unfortunate attack, many Constitutional scholars feel that the justice system has never been the same since.

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Derek Obrien
13 years ago

I must have been the only one who saw this movie who sided with the security chief Skroeder, as played by the excellent GW Bailey. And not because I found the robot cloyingly saccharine, but because Skroder was essentially correct: it was too big a risk to let an out-of-control robot financed by the military run loose among civilians. Especially one where Steve Guttenberg had a hand in its design. Actually, they had me at “Steve Guttenberg”…

13 years ago

Ah, Johnny Five. Testing the limits and barriers of our legal system. Thank you!