Thursday, December 19, 2013

Affluenza - A New Defense for the Wealthy


Ethan Couch who killed 2 people in a drunk driving accident
Ethan Couch
A sixteen-year old youth from Texas, Ethan Couch, has been set free because the judge decided that he was the 'victim' of wealth. The teenager killed four people and seriously injured two others while driving with an alcohol count of .24, a level three times over the legal limit. Evidently, he lost control of his vehicle and smashed into some pedestrians, which also threw two kids in the back of his truck out on to the street, leaving them with serious injuries. The judge sentenced him to a $450,000 private counseling center that will be paid for by his wealthy father. Ethan had been in trouble before when police found him in a car passed out alongside a naked 14-year-old girl, but he was never punished for this offense, either.

The reasoning behind this sentencing is that Ethan didn't know any better because he was, according to his psychologist G. Dick Miller, the victim of 'affluenza,' an anti-social disease created by parents who believe that their 'wealth bought privilege and there was no rational link between behavior and consequences.' What is ironic here is that he is still not being held responsible for his behavior by a court which should be punishing him. Instead, he's being sent to a country club where he'll be able to wank off in the privacy of his own luxury suite.

Martin Erzinger killed a cyclist and fled the scene of the accident
Martin Erzinger
In a similar case Martin Joel Erzinger, a hedge fund manager, went to prison for just 90 days after seriously injuring a cyclist and fleeing the scene of the accident. The reasoning behind the sentence? A longer sentence would have negatively impacted his career, which would have been serious for someone in his profession.

O.J. Simpson trying on glove in murder trial of Nicole Simpson
O.J. Simpson
It appears that if you have money you can buy your way out of anything, including murder. We all witnessed how O.J. Simpson's 'dream team' (which was actually mediocre) helped him get back to the golf course to practice his golf swing. He had threatened to kill Nicole Simpson and he had already been charged with domestic abuse for a previous assault. Combined with his DNA, his monstrous footprints left all over the murder site, the bloody gloves and cap and his confusion as to where he was at the time of the murders, it looked obvious where he was at the time of the murders. It didn't help that the prosecution were totally inept in their handling of the case; however, what was clear in this case was that O.J.'s money was one of the reasons he regained his freedom.

Currently, Ethan is facing numerous lawsuits as a result of the wrongful deaths of four people and well he should. I wonder if a victim of poverty could get a similar exemption from punishment. What are the chances?