Talk:The Star Chamber

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Fair use rationale for Image:TheStarChamberFilm.jpg[edit]

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Image:TheStarChamberFilm.jpg is being used on this article. I notice the image page specifies that the image is being used under fair use but there is no explanation or rationale as to why its use in this Wikipedia article constitutes fair use. In addition to the boilerplate fair use template, you must also write out on the image description page a specific explanation or rationale for why using this image in each article is consistent with fair use.

Please go to the image description page and edit it to include a fair use rationale. Using one of the templates at Wikipedia:Fair use rationale guideline is an easy way to insure that your image is in compliance with Wikipedia policy, but remember that you must complete the template. Do not simply insert a blank template on an image page.

If there is other fair use media, consider checking that you have specified the fair use rationale on the other images used on this page. Note that any fair use images lacking such an explanation can be deleted one week after being tagged, as described on criteria for speedy deletion. If you have any questions please ask them at the Media copyright questions page. Thank you.

BetacommandBot (talk) 07:06, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

RE: Legal accuracy[edit]

A dispute has arisen over whether the section of the article "Legal accuracy" is Original Research or not.

(Moved from user talk pages, and slightly refactored for clarity)

(HidariMigi,) In your edit description of your recent reversion, you stated that case law is not considered a reliable source and thus the information provided is original research. Yet case opinions are published in court reporters and are internationally recognized as reliable sources of law, especially in common law countries such as the United States. I am unable to find any Wikipedia policy stating that case law is not a reliable source, and I have come across numerous other citations to case law on Wikipedia that are not disputed. In fact, according to Wikipedia:Reliable_source_examples#Law:

There are several legal structures for the creation, validation and enforcement of law and the resulting corpus of law is only valid in the jurisdiction of origin. The opinion of experts within the jurisdiction is therefore preferred, in general, to that of outside commentators. Legal material may also be divided into the legal statement itself, material to support or inform that legal statement and judgements of opinion when applying the law in practice.
When discussing legal texts, it is more reliable to quote from the text, appropriately qualified jurists or textbooks than from newspaper reporting.

(emphasis added). Can you please further clarify how published case opinions do not constitute reliable sources? Thanks. –Prototime (talk · contribs) 16:58, 20 March 2011 (UTC)


It appears you have a misunderstanding about what is meant by the citation requirement for reliable sourcing. The issue is not whether the case law you point to is reliable or not-- but whether the citation directly discusses the subject of the article. In the article The Star Chamber the section contains an interpretation of the film's depiction of events, and then cites court cases to support the claims-- but has no actual source for the interpretation. That is why it's Original Research -- it's presenting a novel interpretation.

Remember, the mantra for Wikipedia is "verifiability, not truth," as noted at Verifiability:

The threshold for inclusion is...whether readers can check that material in Wikipedia has already been published by a reliable source, not whether editors think it is true.

What the section is doing, would be construed as a "Synthesis" -- creating an argument that, "The movie says X about the law, but these court cases say Y, and thus the movie is Z."

So stated at Reliable sources and original research:

Sources must support the material clearly and directly: drawing inferences from multiple sources to advance a novel position—called original synthesis, or original SYN—is prohibited by the NOR policy.

Hope that clarifies why the section you added was Original Research. If you can find a published article which directly discusses The Star Chamber and the legal issues that the section raises, those would be appropriate to cite. --HidariMigi (talk) 08:24, 21 March 2011 (UTC)

I appreciate your response. I understand that WP:NOR prohibits an author's own analysis or synthesis; however, the sources provided do provide for verifiability of the assertions made, and do not rely upon an author's own analysis or synthesis. One need look no further than the date of the case and its case holding; there are no inferences being drawn as these facts are explicitly stated in the sources. The section does not draw upon facts from the movie, combine them with facts from a different source, and then advance a new position that is not sourced. Your example, "The movie says X about the law, but these court cases say Y, and thus the movie is Z", is not entirely accurate. From WP:NOR:
Do not combine material from multiple sources to reach or imply a conclusion not explicitly stated by any of the sources. If one reliable source says A, and another reliable source says B, do not join A and B together to imply a conclusion C that is not mentioned by either of the sources. This would be a synthesis of published material to advance a new position, which is original research.
The conclusion reached in the disputed section of The Star Chamber is that the case law relied upon in the movie (A) is overturned by the cited cases (B). What you seem to have a problem with is not the combination of "A" and "B" to make a "C," but on "B" itself. The cited cases explicitly state that they are overruling the prior case law, and thus B is verifiable. Because both A and B are verifiable, and there is no implied "C" position advanced by A and B, there is no original synthesis.
WP:NOR does not bar an article from containing facts from multiple sources in the same article just because a third source has not stated all of those facts together--what it bars is an author advancing a new position based on those sources. I believe that is where you are confusing the meaning of WP:NOR concerning original synthesis. Stating that the law has changed after the movie's release, and providing sources to that affect, is not a new position; it is a verifiable fact describing an event that has temporally succeeded the movie. In light of that, I still do not see how the section constitutes original research. –Prototime (talk · contribs) 00:00, 22 March 2011 (UTC)
I think that perhaps you are missing the basic precept of the No Original Research policy. NOR basically means that if you can not find a published source that specifically addresses a claim you are making-- no matter how true that point may be-- then it may not be included, because Wikipedia cannot be the first publisher of that claim.
In the section of the article, claims are made that 1) certain case laws were mentioned or referenced in the movie as the basis of the plot; and, analytically, 2) that subsequent to the movie's release, other cases have invalidated the basis of the story. Neither of these claims has an actual published source that speaks specifically to them. By "specifically," I mean somewhere other than your personal understanding/experience. For the first claim, it would likely be acceptable to use the primary source of the movie's script, only if it spells out the actual cases used; or preferentially, a secondary published source that says (for example), "In the movie The Star Chamber, the judge is basing his decision on X precedents"; or a published interview with the screenwriter in which he describes which cases he based the story on. For the second analytic claim, you would have to find a source that says something like, "The cases used as the basis of The Star Chamber have been overturned by X cases."
In short, if a contentious/analytical/evaluative claim is made in a WP article, without citing a legitimate publication (aka a secondary source) that says in similar terms what has been written, it's Original Research-- no matter how true an editor believes it to be. Simply writing so-and-so case laws were used in The Star Chamber and have been overturned by X and Y cases, then using as citation the case law you're claiming have a connection to the movie is definitely Original Research.
If you don't believe my understanding of NOR is correct, please feel free to ask for a Third Opinion from another editor, who will respond here.--HidariMigi (talk) 09:20, 22 March 2011 (UTC)
Agree here, the whole section certainly seems to be original research and synthesis. I glanced at it and immediately wondered where it came from, and came to the talk page to start a discussion. 74.192.253.69 (talk) 05:18, 28 June 2012 (UTC)
  • Maybe it's a bit late to add another opinion, but I have to agree with Prototime on this. The "legal accuracy" section merely points out the verifiable fact that the law as referenced in the movie was later overturned. To say this constitutes original research is tantamount to saying that pointing out obvious facts such as chronology constitutes original research unless that chronology is also pointed out by another source. That is to say, if something happened on 4 June 1996 and something else happened on 16 June 1996 but the two dates in question cannot be established through the same source, then it would be original research to state the obvious conclusion that the second event happened after the first. This is ludicrousness both as a point of logic and of procedure.
Personally, I found the "legal accuracy" section most useful out of the entire article.184.97.207.59 (talk) 05:28, 5 September 2013 (UTC)
  • That section should have been removed earlier. This isn't about being able to verify it. this is about cherry-picking certain parts and cobbling together what amounts to a trivia section. This is a fiction movie, not a documentary. No reasonable person would look at it as a source for legal understanding. In reality, this is not much different than talking about how motorcycle X is depicted travelling 190 mph when it's top speed is only 185. Trivia. Niteshift36 (talk) 13:10, 5 September 2013 (UTC)
  • Well, I'm glad I got a chance to read the article before the most enlightening part of it was removed. If you want to see content that truly amounts to trivia, check other movie databases online that accept such content from users. I certainly agree that Wikipedia isn't the place for such obscure information, but when it is relevant to the central premise of the film and its take on society, then I fail to see how it amounts to nothing beyond trivia. This film is 30 years dated and carries a commentary on the state of the American justice system at that time. How, then, is it not relevant to point out verifiable facts as to how that justice system has evolved both since this movie and possibly even in response to the issues raised by it?
Sure, it would be nice if there were some esteemed external source that pointed out these facts so that Wikipedia's editorial community could be satisfied, but is that really likely to happen with a 30-year-old film largely relegated to the heap of forgotten, marginally successful movies? I guess that means that only those films considered important enough to merit independent analysis deserve to have any meaningful information included about them on Wikipedia.
The reason I came to this article yesterday was that while watching the film I wondered how accurate were the legal loopholes presented. It was extremely helpful to discover that those loopholes were accurate at the time of the movie but not any longer. I suppose helpfulness is irrelevant to the editorial process here, but I submit for what it's worth that the "legal accuracy" section was the most helpful part of this article for anyone looking for info beyond a simple rundown of actors and plot summary. It was the only part that offered any real value, since all the stock info can easily be found elsewhere. As in this movie, though, I suppose technicalities of Wikipedian law take precedence over the purposes for which those laws were created, thereby neatly obfuscating them for anyone without a Wikipedian law degree.
The part I don't get is why it matters so much to some whether a couple paragraphs are left in an article on a topic so benign and only of interest to a select few. The so-called trivia -- even if one concedes it amounts to no more than that, which I certainly do not -- serves very useful to some, while serving no detrimental function to anyone else so far as I can see. It's a shame that an insistence on a strict letter-of-the-law approach should deprive readers of information so relevant and useful while offering nothing useful of its own in return. At the very least, the section could have been left up along with the tag questioning it.184.97.207.59 (talk) 17:14, 5 September 2013 (UTC)
By the way, the "novel position" argument used above is not applicable here. The removed section did not advance a novel position; it merely pointed out that the law at the time of the movie was one thing, while the law at present is something else. Had any further commentary been added on the significance of the change in law or its relevance to the movie, then that would certainly amount to advancing a novel position, but that was not the case here.184.97.207.59 (talk) 17:25, 5 September 2013 (UTC)
  • It advances a position that there are issues with the accuracy, which makes implications about their work. Niteshift36 (talk) 20:30, 5 September 2013 (UTC)
One last comment: Niteshift36, do you seriously believe that no reasonable person looks to works of fiction as a means of interpreting and understanding real life? Or is it just that you deem this particular movie not significant enough to deserve being afforded any serious thought? Many of the great war films are works of fiction; does that mean, then, that no reasonable person would look to them as a means of understanding war in its nonfictional ramifications?184.97.207.59 (talk) 17:33, 5 September 2013 (UTC)
  • Actually, many war films have similar sections removed. Another example would be many articles about films have sections devoted to differences from the book.....and most of those get removed as either OR or SYNTH. It was left tagged for quite some time and none of the supporters bothered to make any effort to improve it and remove the SYNTH. You can put a sign up pointing out the dog turd in your yard or you can clean it up. We left the sign up long enough. Instead of trying to appear witty with your chatter about "Wikipedia law degrees", why not find a reliable third party that actually wrote about the issue and use that as a basis for section? Niteshift36 (talk) 18:26, 5 September 2013 (UTC)
So it's been quite a while since I participated in this conversation. I have since then learned much more about WP:SYNTH and its applications, and I must say that the synthesis argument made here continues to have no legs to stand on. While an essay, WP:SYNTHNOT sheds considerable light on the meaning of original synthesis. Merely presenting facts next to one another is not an original synthesis, nor is drawing an obvious conclusion that cannot be logically challenged. If a source says "On Monday, Tom says he likes apples", and another source says "On Tuesday, Tom says he dislikes apples", it's absurd to challenge a statement "Tom's opinion on apples differed" on the grounds that no source precisely states that obvious conclusion. It may be minimal synthesis, but there is nothing "original" about it; no "novel position" is being argued. What we're discussing here is much more akin to the Tom example than any example given on WP:SYNTH, which involve completely novel positions being invented out of thin air. I believe 184.97.207.59 eloquently described how merely presenting items in chronological order does not constitute original synthesis. Furthermore, I cannot comprehend how describing the ways in which a work of fiction draws from and relates to actual events is "trivia", particularly when it concerns subjects sufficiently noteworthy to have been deliberated on by the highest court of the United States.
Given this, I have restored the content. Please establish consensus before removing it again. If need be, we can start a Request for Comment to resolve this issue with some degree of finality. –Prototime (talk · contribs) 18:37, 5 September 2013 (UTC)
  • Yes, it was a long time.....and in that 18 months you did nothing to improve the article. Just tagging it and leaving it doesn't cut it. You had ample opportunity to try to find a reliable third party discussing the issues and either couldn't or didn't attempt to. In either case, ample time has passed. Instead of acting like this is only a lone editor opining that it doesn't belong, try realizing that at least 3 have supported that position and 2 have explained it reasonably well. SYNTHNOT is a nice essay, but not completely accurate. Feel free to start a RFC. I'd also suggest notifying the other editors previously involved. But the content is being contested and should be left out until the issue is resolved. Niteshift36 (talk) 20:26, 5 September 2013 (UTC)
No improvements were made, and no improvements need to be made, because the material is not original synthesis. I realize that 3 are editors against its inclusion and 2 are for it, but that is hardly consensus for removal, the editors supporting the material's inclusion have also decently explained their position, and Wikipedia is not a democracy. Indeed, you removed the contested material immediately after another editor posted support for keeping the material. I'm happy to start an RfC shortly, but per WP:CONSENSUS and WP:NOCONSENSUS, the material truly should stay in the article until a consensus exists to remove it. I don't wish to edit war about this, so in the spirit of WP:BRD, I would ask that you please restore the material until consensus exists for its removal. (And as a practical matter, it would also make discussion easier on an RfC if it's still on the article page instead of requiring editors to view the diff.) –Prototime (talk · contribs) 01:34, 6 September 2013 (UTC)
  • I never said there was a consensus, but some of you are acting like there is only one editor that has expressed this same view. It did need improvement if enough people were seeing the same problem. If this were a new issue, I might be inclined to leave it in, but there has been a year and a half to improve and discuss it. Nothing was done. Apparently, this is the only way to get something done. If there is a reliable third party source that addressed this issue, then produce it. Otherwise, when we start quoting caselaw and what we claim it says, then we are treading on OR territory. This wasn't a documentary, nor did it claim to be "based on a true story" or anything like that. It was a complete work of fiction and there is no expectation that it be accurate, thus starting a discussion about perceived/real inaccuracies isn't called for.Niteshift36 (talk) 12:23, 6 September 2013 (UTC)

I broadly agree with 184.97.207.5. But even if I didn't, we all seem to have overlooked the fact that the source cited in the removed material specifically discusses The Star Chamber. I can only see snippets on Google Books, but at the very least, the book explicitly links United States v. Leon (1984) with the events in this film. So I see no basis for claims of WP:SYNTH. I'm not sure whether this link will work for everyone, but try this. Adrian J. Hunter(talkcontribs) 12:32, 6 September 2013 (UTC)

(Note the book's first author is a Professor of Law Emeritus at Stamford [1] [2]). Adrian J. Hunter(talkcontribs) 12:52, 6 September 2013 (UTC)
  • But the question isn't whether or not the author is qualified. The question is did he actually discuss those decisions in the context of this movie or if he just talks about the fact that they were cited in the film? And if so, did he discuss it in the manner we're reporting here? Niteshift36 (talk) 15:47, 6 September 2013 (UTC)
The book is called "Law and Popular Culture", and yes, it does discuss those decisions in the context of this film. This entire thread is based on the misunderstanding that the original contributor of the disputed material WP:SYNthesised the connections between real-life laws and this film. In fact, the connections were cited to a reliable source all along. I'm not seeing any reason the material shouldn't be restored. Adrian J. Hunter(talkcontribs) 10:11, 7 September 2013 (UTC)
  • Seems we have a disagreement here. Hidari and you seem to have a different view on what the book actually discusses. Adrian, have you actually read the book? I'm not sure why you felt the need to tell me the title of the book. I can clearly read it and went to GBooks to view the part that was available. Niteshift36 (talk) 19:58, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
Sorry Niteshift, I just wasn't sure what the GBooks link would show from other locations, and looking back I see I misread your previous comment. Adrian J. Hunter(talkcontribs) 00:21, 10 September 2013 (UTC)
  • Have to agree with Niteshift on this, the section is unnecessary -- and he raises an important point: the film is a work of fiction, which may use elements of the "real world" but should not be taken as representing anything accurate about the state of the law in California or elsewhere circa 1983. I actually rewatched the movie after the earlier discussion here, and checked it again yesterday. There are only two cases explicitly referenced in the film: California v. Krivda (1972) and US v. Ross (1982). However, these were both mentioned in passing, and neither explained nor expounded upon. Nitpicking elements of a fictional work for their shortcomings or failings in reality is a frequent diversion on the Internet, but like most trivia, doesn't need to be part of of this or other Wikipedia articles. Such a section would be akin to pointing out the misuse of the laws of physics in most action films; or disregarding scientific theories in science fiction works -- we shouldn't forget that this film (like most) doesn't claim any sort of real world accuracy. Finally, there appears to be a continuing (or willful) misunderstanding of what constitutes Original Research and Synthesis on Wikipedia. If an article presents a claim on Wikipedia that doesn't appear anywhere else first, no matter how factual that claim may be -- then it is Original Research. Simply put, Wikipedia can not be used as a WP:Primary Source -- it would be damaging to the project if articles contained *any* information that was not previously found somewhere else. Every claim of fact, regardless of how 'true' you believe it to be, must be citable to a legitimate published source. Even if one comes across a publication, as mentioned above, which broadly discusses the subject of an article -- merely using it as a reference to a set of claims is not enough; it must be demonstrated that the source states precisely the same thing as the claim made on Wikipedia. It can not be an interpretation of that claim; nor can it support just part of a claim to be sufficient. The cited book Law and Popular Culture does discuss the exclusionary rule as illustrated in The Star Chamber on pages 156-158, mentioning one case:
"In fact, present law already allows a 'good faith' exception to the exclusionary rule in cases of defective search warrants but not other kinds of Fourth Amendment violations. Under United States v. Leon (1984), if a reasonably well-trained officer would have believed the warrant was valid, evidence seized under the warrant is admissible. Leon would probably have changed the result in the case of the defective search warrant described in one of the cases considered by the "Star Chamber" court in the film." (p. 157)
That would be the sole claim that could be cited by this particular source. --HidariMigi (talk) 18:20, 9 September 2013 (UTC)
My apologies, I have only been able to read snippets of the cited book, and had assumed the original contributor was accurately representing the source they had cited. Based on your response I see the contested material is indeed WP:SYNTH, and I cannot object to its removal. Sorry to have prolonged this lengthy thread. Adrian J. Hunter(talkcontribs) 00:21, 10 September 2013 (UTC)