The Diarrhoea Defence
If we lawyers do seem occasionally wistful it may be because our moment of fame has eluded us.
In my case, a client had been charged with failing to supply a sample of breath. His car had been stopped by the police, he had tried to run away and during a struggle with a police officer had had an attack of diarrhoea.
Suspected drunken drivers often fail to provide sufficient breath and are routinely convicted unless they have a reasonable excuse. An attack of diarrhoea seemed a good reason for not doing any strenuous blowing, or at least it was in my book. We entered a plea of not guilty.
The cross examination of the police officer began tastefully enough, given the circumstances. But soon descended into unnecessary detail. The failure to control bowel movements seemed further evidence of my client’s bad character and the officer did not want to leave anything to the imagination.
The magistrate remained throughout the evidence with a pained, constipated expression. She seemed unable to step over the diarrhoea part of my submission onto the firmer ground of the legal principles behind the defence. She convicted my client with what seemed to me indecent haste.
My footnote in legal history was snatched from under my nose.