Friday, November 05, 2004

Quick story that was my personal "Professor Joke of the Year," but which may or may not translate into print:

Yesterday in criminal law we were talking about intoxication defenses. (Short, short version: Not bloody likely in most cases.) There are some exceedingly rare cases, though, of involuntary intoxication, which can be a decent defense. One possibility for involuntary intoxication is that you thought you were taking something else but you actually took an intoxicant. There is a 1915 case, People v. Penman (sadly, with no Google presence, until now--271 Ill. 82, 110 N.E. 894 for those with Westlaw or Lexis-Nexis access), where a guy was sold "breath perfumers" that turned out to be cocaine tablets. High on these tablets, he got into an argument about a car he had agreed to buy and then reneged on, had an exchange of insults (including, according to the opinion, 'You long-legged giraffe, you will have to take it,'), and then went nuts and killed the guy. It turns out he should have been entitled to a temporary insanity defense because of his involuntary intoxication. (This is 10 times more detail than the prof gave; thank you legal research tools!)

So after briefly telling us about Penman, the professor says he likes to refer to this as the "curiously strong breath mints case".

Perhaps you had to be there...

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