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CNN Opinion: Cure for So-Called ‘Affluenza’ Is Nothing Short of Prison

Ethan Couch.

Ethan Couch.

CNN

American lawyers have never been accused of lacking creativity in seeking to justify the nefarious deeds of their clients. Texas defense attorney Scott Brown, however, appears to have raised the bar to a new level by asserting the newly minted defense of “affluenza” to obtain leniency in a tragic vehicular homicide case arising out of the reckless driving of his very drunk and very rich 16-year-old client, Ethan Couch.

Affluenza may be a contender for a collection of odd and unlikely defenses that can trace their lineage back to the infamous (and some even say apocryphal) “Twinkie defense.” The notorious junk food defense was asserted in psychiatric testimony as part of a broad claim of diminished capacity caused by depression with at least some success in the 1979 trial of Supervisor Dan White for the assassination of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. Although White was charged with murder, the jury found him guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter.

he current claim in Fort Worth, Texas, is that the condition of affluenza, a combination of the words “affluence” and “influenza” should immunize Ethan Couch from full responsibility for his actions in killing four people and critically injuring two others.

The Oxford Dictionary defines the condition as “a psychological malaise supposedly affecting young people, symptoms of which include a lack of motivation, feelings of guilt, and a sense of isolation.” Defense attorney Brown apparently succeeded in convincing soon-to-be retired juvenile Judge Jean Boyd that this spoiled rich kid syndrome diminished Ethan Couch’s capacity to distinguish right from wrong.

n the face of prosecution demands for 20 years in the slammer, the judge responded with a sentence of 10 years of probation and rehabilitation. Couch’s rich daddy proposes to fund a trip to a $450,000 a year California rehab facility that offers treatment to those with way too much cash and free time on their manicured hands. I wish I was kidding about this, but I am not.

Defense psychologist Dr. G. Dick Miller testified that poor Ethan Couch was never properly disciplined by his wealthy parents, eventually driving at age 13, abusing alcohol, and coming to believe that money could buy him out of pretty much any situation where he hurt someone. Affluenza, the shrink suggests, diminished Ethan’s capacity to obey the law and tragic consequences followed.

Miller’s offensive analysis fails to explain why this strange condition is not mentioned in the diagnostic bible of the psychiatric profession, the DSM-5 and its predecessor volumes. Rich kid syndrome, or the more succinct label affluenza, seems to be made of the same empty calories that made the Twinkie defense so offensive to the public at the time it was served up in a 1970s San Francisco courtroom.

To read more click here. 

FBI Investigates Why Small Plane Crashed into Building in Anchorage


fbi-logBy Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The FBI is investigating how a small plane ended up crashing through the third floor of a building in downtown Anchorage on Tuesday morning, BuzzFeed reports. 

The pilot, Lt. Doug Demarest, who was killed, was not authorized to fly the plane in Anchorage, the FBI said.

“What we’re trying to do is put those parts of the pieces together to see exactly how that happened and how the plane ended up where it is,” National Transportation Safety Board’s chief of aviation safety, Clint Johnson,told reporters. “We don’t know at this point.”

But federal authorities said they do not believe terrorism was a motive.

The Cessna 172S belonged to the Civil Air Patrol, which Demarest joined in 2010.

Three Honduran Women Sue Federal Government After Being Raped by Border Patrol Agent

border patrol 3By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Three Hondurans are suing the federal government for $3 million after they were sexually assaulted last year by an on-duty Border Patrol agent who has since killed himself, San Antonio Express-News reports.

The attack occurred when an adult woman and two girls illegally crossed the border in March 2014 and were encountered in Hidalgo County in Texas by U.S. Border Patrol Agent Esteban Manzanares, according to the lawsuit.

New details have emerged from the suit, which alleges the agent dragged, beat, choked and sexually assaulted one of the plaintiffs and her 15-year-old daughter.

The lawsuit also accused Manzanares of tying up another of the victims before sexually assaulting her and photographing her in the nude.

Four Secret Service Agents Injured in Head-On Crash That Killed a Driver

secret-service-3By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A head-on collision killed one man and injured four Secret Service agents Tuesday night in New Hampshire, CNN reports. 

Authorities said a car driven by Bruce Danforth, 45, crossed the double-yellow lines and crashed into the Secret Service officers’ vehicle.

Danforth died, and two of his passengers were injured.

The four agents were taken to a hospital.

“At this time, our personnel have sustained what is described as serious, but non life threatening injuries. Please join us as we keep all the victims of this accident and their families in our thoughts and prayers,” Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy said Wednesday said in a statement.

The agents were on-duty when the accident happened.

Mexican Drug Cartel Founder Found Dead, Tortured And Riddled with Bullets

Carlos Rosales Mendoza

Carlos Rosales Mendoza

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Mexican drug cartel founder who was on the DEA’s Most Wanted List was found tortured and dead along with three other men dumped along the side of the road, The Daily Mail reports.

Carlos Rosales Mendoza, who founded La Familia Michoacana, was found riddled with bullets.

Mendoza was a key member of the La Familia cartel.

According to authorities, Mendoza was trying to start a new cartel when he died.

Other Stories of Interest

‘Affluenza’ Teen, His Mother Were Detained in Mexico After Fleeing Over Probation Violation

Ethan Couch.

Ethan Couch.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A wealthy Texas teenager who was given leniency after killing four people while driving drunk has been captured in Mexico with his mother, The New York Times reports. 

Ethan Couch gained national notoriety when a judge gave him probation in 2013 after his lawyer called a witness who claimed he suffered from “affluenza,” a so-called psychological condition marked by an unwillingness to know the difference between right and wrong because of family wealth.

Couch, 18, was facing prison this month after allegedly violating probation by drinking alcohol.

Authorities said he and his mother, Tonya Couch, 48, fled to Mexico before they were arrested near the Mexican resort city of Puerto Vallarta.

Prosecutor Delivers 15-Minute Speech After Grand Jury Decision in Tamir Rice Case

Tamir Rice

Tamir Rice

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A grand jury on Monday decided not to indict two police officers who fatally shot Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old black boy who was playing with a pellet gun.

Here is the transcript of Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty’s speech after the grand jury decision:

One promise I made was to fundamentally change how cases are handled when a police officer kills a civilian, to end the traditional system where the prosecutor privately reviewed police reports, then decided whether an officer should be charged. That secrecy, which appeared arbitrary, without a public investigative report, undermined community confidence. It was clear we needed a more rigorous, independent investigation of police use-of-deadly-force cases.

Although not required by Ohio law, I now have all evidence reviewed not just by the prosecutor in these cases or this office but by the citizens of the grand jury sitting as an investigative panel to hear all the evidence and make the final call. Our office also shares with the public completed, independent investigative reports so that there will be no mystery about what occurred or rumors in a citizen’s death. This transparency gives our community an opportunity to correct errors — in policy, training, tactics, hiring, equipment — far more quickly, instead of waiting sometimes years until the opportunity and enthusiasm for reform are lost, the lessons are forgotten. Here, we want the lessons learned and applied.

Today the grand jury completed its thorough investigation of the fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice on (Nov.) 22, 2014, at the Cuddell Recreation Center. Based on the evidence they heard and the law as it applies to police use of deadly force, the grand jury declined to bring criminal charges against Cleveland police officers Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback. That was also my recommendation and that of our office after reviewing the investigation and the law.

A short time ago, we informed Tamir’s mother of the grand jury’s decision. It was a tough conversation. We again expressed the condolences of our office, the sheriff’s detectives and everyone else who has worked so diligently on this case and our sincere wish that these events on that traumatic day at the Cuddell rec center had unfolded differently. She was broken up, and it’s very hard. We explained to her that this was a difficult decision also but that to charge police, even in a situation that was as undeniably tragic as the death of her son, the state must be able to show that the officers acted outside the constitutional boundaries set forward by the Supreme Court of these United States.

Read more »

Secret Service Stops Man from Flying Drone Alongside President Obama’s Motorcade in Hawaii

DroneBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A recreational drone alarmed Secret Service agents after it was seen flying alongside President Obama’s motorcade in Hawaii, the International Business Times reports. 

Agents approached the operator and ordered him to land the drone.

The operator complied and was not arrested.

“The Secret Service is aware of this incident. The subject was completely unaware that the Presidential motorcade would be transiting the area of operation and immediately complied with law enforcement requests to cease and desist. No charges were filed. The motorcade proceeded without further incident,” the agency said in a statement late Monday, according toWABC, an ABC News affiliate for New York.

Obama is on vacation in Hawaii.