People v. White
The Blame Game
"The Blame Game" is played by many criminal defendants, and many legal observers believe that the game has spun out of control. Defendants have a right to present arguments in their defense, but some claim that the right is being abused to the detriment of justice.
The first great example of the Blame Game was the Twinkie Defense asserted by manslaughter defendant Daniel White in 1979. What followed has been called "The Abuse Excuse" by legal analysts. Essentially, criminal defendants are asking to be found not guilty, or to have their sentences or charges reduced, based on problems in their past or their own personal shortcomings. With the rise of expert testimony and advances in the psychological and medical disciplines, defendants have more arguments at their disposal than ever before. Some arguments may be more legitimate than others. Women have laid claim to "premenstrual stress" syndrome and men and women alike have defended criminal charges on the basis of "battered person" syndrome. If a criminal defendant suffered any abuse as a child, it is likely that this fact will be presented at trial as mitigating circumstances.