The lenient sentencing of a wealthy Texas teen who killed four pedestrians in a drunk-driving incident reflects enduring truths about the criminal justice system, Senior Associate Dean Dan Filler said in a Dec. 14 article in USA Today.
Filler was interviewed about 16-year-old Ethan Couch, who received 10 years’ probation in the drunk-driving incident after a psychologist testifying for the defense claimed the wealthy teen was afflicted by “affluenza,” a condition that gave him a sense of entitlement and made him blameless for the deaths of four pedestrians.
Filler said defense attorneys commonly cite their clients’ backgrounds in order to make them seem less culpable for whatever crime has been alleged.
"The real truth is that our criminal justice system is suffering from 'affluenza' because affluent people can afford better attorneys and get better outcomes," Filler said.
In mounting the “affluenza” defense, Filler said, the teen’s attorney was simply "doing what a well-paid lawyer can do."