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Local Attorney Weighs In On TX Teen’s Deadly DWI ‘Affluenza’ Defense

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Penn State graduate, attorney Eileen Hurley. (credit: Eileen Hurley)

Penn State graduate, attorney Eileen Hurley. (credit: Eileen Hurley)

Michelle Durham Michelle Durham
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 By Michelle Durham

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Texas juvenile received probation from a Texas court after pleading guilty to four counts of manslaughter by intoxication and two counts of assault after he admitted to driving drunk and plowing his truck into four people standing by a disabled vehicle on the highway (See Related Story).

An unusual defense was used to save him from a long jail sentence.

Lawyers for 16-year-old Ethan Couch told the judge their client suffered from “affluenza.” They claim the life that Couch lived, one of privilege with no rules or consequences, led to this horrific incident.

Former Philadelphia prosecutor turned criminal defense attorney Eileen Hurley offered this opinion.

“I think it’s a clever play on words. I don’t think that ‘affluenza’ is an appropriate comment to be making. It’s not a legitimate disease,” Hurley said.

Could it happen here?

“I don’t think a judge would be swayed by the term ‘affluenza.’ You always want to take into account someone’s background. Especially a juvenile because yes, they are subject to the rules of their parents. But to say that just because he is spoiled he doesn’t understand consequences, and then not to give him anymore, just give him probation, I can’t see that happening here,” she said.

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