Far Beneath The Twinkie Defense

The Con

When former San Francisco Councilman Dan White was put on trial for the murder of Mayor George Moscone and fellow Councilman Harvey Milk, he pled not guilty with an explanation: the Twinkies made him do it.  According to White’s lawyer, he suffered from depression as a result of changing his diet from health food to Twinkie’s and other sugary junk food.  This resulted in diminished capacity and therefore the murders.

What should have been a laughable moment in American jurisprudence worked; Dan White – who walked into San Francisco’s City Hall with a loaded weapon and assassinated the mayor and a fellow member of the city council – was acquitted of pre-meditated murder and instead found guilty of voluntary manslaughter.

As a grand legal strategy on par with the best of Clarence Darrow, the Twinkie Defense ranks beneath South Park’s “Chewbacca Defense.”  It’s self-serving gibberish that gave cover to a jury with prejudices (White was a former cop, the Gay Rights movement, huge in San Francisco at the time, had brought a massive amount of homophobes out of the woodwork).  Despicable perhaps but hey, it worked.   It worked so well Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia reflected on the Twinkie Defense during Oral Arguments during the 2006 case United States v. Gonzalez-Lopez.  While discussing a defendant’s right to council Justice Scalia said, “[If I am a defendant,] I don’t want a competent lawyer. I want a lawyer who’s going to get me off. I want a lawyer who will invent the Twinkie Defense […] I would not consider the Twinkie Defense an invention of a competent lawyer […] but I want a lawyer who’s going to win for me.”

With this in mind, I found this report from ABC 7 Los Angeles while surfing around this morning.

Three African refugees were arrested at an Arizona airport after what police described as a fake bomb was found in one of their carry-on bags.

The incident happened last Friday at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

Investigators said the device was not a bomb but they are concerned the suspects were conducting a trial run to see if they could get a real bomb through security.

Luwiza Daman, a 51-year-old woman from Ethiopia, had the suspicious item in her carry-on bag as she tried to get through security. She told investigators that an acquaintance gave her the item to be delivered to a friend in Des Moines, Iowa.

The acquaintance, identified as 25-year-old Shullu Gorado of Eritrea, said the package was Ethiopian food with a cell phone strapped to it.

While being interviewed, Gorado offered this excuse for building the device:

“I didn’t know that you could not send food to the airport, that this was illegal. It was just regular food I bought from the store.”

Perhaps Justice Scalia knows a good Shyster at Hack for Gorado and his friends.  Said Ambulance Chaser won’t have to put too much thought into a defense, the client came up with it already.  We’ll call it the ‘I bought the food at a store’ defense.












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