Saturday, February 23, 2013

Andrew Luster's New Defense: The Lawyers Made Me Do It

Andrew Luster blames his sordid tale on the lawyers. He is the son of privilege. The great grandson, an heir to the Max Factor fortune, grew up in Malibu. He received a substantial cash income from a family trust. Andrew Luster is also a neer d’well, playboy, libertine, rake, wastrel, and most significantly a serial rapist and felon. Based on wealth, fancy cars, looks, and personality, he could easily “score” with many women. Hoever, he relied on gamma hydroxy butyrate, GHB, a date rape drug, also known as “Liquid Ecstacy” or “Liquid X.” He then taped the sexual assaults on the unconscious women. Jurors watched the tapes, which showed him as a sociopath. Two of the victims had no memory of the sexual assaults. One woman was snoring during the sexual assault. Another was only 17 at the time. He claimed his victims consented. The law is clear though. An underaged, intoxicated, drugged, or unconscious woman is legally incapable of giving consent. The illegal acts occurred between October 1996 and July 2000. Luster was arrested and released on $1 million bail. He jumped bail four days into the 2002 trial, which proceeded in absentia. He was convicted on 86 counts of assault, rape, drug induced rapes, rapes of unconscious women, and poisoning, sentenced to 124 years in prison, and fined $1 million. Luster was hiding in plain view in Mexico. Duane “Dog” Chapman, the famed bounty hunter, apprehended him eating a burrito at a taco stand in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on June 20, 2003. Luster was brought back to face justice in California. A 2003 made for TV movie, A Date With Darkness: The Trial and Capture of Andrew Luster, was produced during his unsuccessful refuge in Mexico. The victims of sexual assaults normally do not bring civil law suits seeking compensation. However, when a defendant, such as Luster, possesses assets then the suit is sometimes brought. Two of his victims won $40 million in judgments. How much they will collect remains to be seen as Luster entered personal bankruptcy. The judge in one civil suit called the facts “so perverse, so unconscionable and so despicable.” One of the classic criminal law defenses is the “SODDI” Defense- “Some Other Dud Done It.” For example, the Bell 6 defendants, the city officials who looted Bell, blamed their acts on Robert Rizzo, the indicted city manager who will be tried separately. Murder defendants often blame the victim, who is clearly unable to testify. We know from Hollywood movies and TV shows that lawyers are often the villain. Andrew Luster’s new defense is to blame the lawyers, in fact one dead lawyer. He is seeking a new trial and a reduced sentence on grounds of poor representation in the trial he fled. His new lawyers claim in a February 9 filing that he was the victim, yes he was the victim, of a half dozen incompetent, unethical, and crooked lawyers. Money usually procures the services of highly competent criminal defense attorneys, not 6 incompetent attorneys. He claims his lawyer advised him to leave the country, “to head for the border.” He claims to have acted on advice of counsel, Richard G. Sherman, who conveniently died in April 2011. Sherman had a history of ethical problems, but denied the Luster claims before his death. His new lawyers are now blaming his old lawyers, especially a deceased lawyer, for the client’s actions. Counsel did not drug the young women. Nor did counsel sexually assault the unconscious women. Counsel did not commit statutory rape. Counsel did not advise Luster to tape his depravities. Counsel did not flee to Mexico. Counsel had to defend an empty chair during the trial he fled. Luster was not there to speak for himself, but his tapes spoke for him in absentia. Luster was of free will and determinism. He also claimed at one point to be earning $60-70,000 annually from day trading. He’s smart enough to know what he’s doing. And stupid enough to have done it.

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