The Twinkie Defense

Definition: an improbable, far-fetched legal defense; a legal claim that a crime was committed when a person had diminished mental capacity due to the intake of too much sugar.

Origin: The colorful phrase coined by the media, most notably Paul Krassner and Herb Caen, during the the 1979 trial of Dan White, a San Francisco district supervisor, who assassinated mayor George Moscone and fellow supervisor Harvey Milk. White’s defense team argued that that he had been suffering from deep depression exacerbated by the consumption of junk food and sugar-rich food like Coke and Twinkies. Hence, the defense team did not argue that their client did not commit the murders, but rather he had acted under diminished mental capacity and the murders were not premeditated. White was convicted of voluntary manslaughter generating enormous outrage in the community that culminated in the White Night Riots, and angry editorials protesting the so-called “Twinkie Defense.”

For further reading: Twinkie, Deconstructed by Steve Ettlinger, Hudson Street Press (2007).
The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, edited by Elizabeth Knowles, Oxford Univ Press (2000).
http://www.snopes.com/legal/twinkie.asp

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