Psychologist Who Introduced Affluenza Defense in Ethan Couch Trial Takes Victory Lap on CNN

Categories: Crime, Media

dr-dick-miller.png
Anderson Cooper 360
Three days later, the country continues to seethe over Tarrant County Judge Jean Boyd's decision to let 16-year-old Ethan Couch off with probation for killing four people and injuring several others near Burleson during a drunken joy ride on Father's Day weekend. It's an absurdly light sentence given the amount of heartbreak he caused. That his defense worked -- his lawyers essentially argued that he was too rich and spoiled to be severely punished for his actions -- suggests something deeply rotten in the criminal justice system.

None of that is the fault of G. Dick Miller, the Bedford psychologist who testified that Couch suffers from "affluenza" and suggested justice would be best served by sending him to Newport Academy, a cushy, $450,000 teen rehab center in California. He was simply doing his job as an expert witness for the defense.

On Thursday night, perhaps in an attempt to defend himself from the recent avalanche of criticism, perhaps to pimp his expert-witness business on national television, Miller defended Couch's sentence, and the system that generated it, during an extended interview on Anderson Cooper 360.

See also: Keller Teen Gets Probation for Drunken Wreck that Killed 4, Pissing Off Just About Everyone

It's immediately clear from the footage that Miller is much less adept at holding his own on a cable news show than at convincing judges to be lenient. He backpedaled on his use of the term "affluenza," suggesting it's not a condition of wealth but also describes people who eat too much or spend beyond their means. He unsuccessfully tried to convince Cooper that Couch's stint in rehab, away from parents and girls and Xboxes, is a serious punishment. And there was his weird refusal to say the word "kill":

COOPER: He killed four people, yes?

MILLER: Four people died.

COOPER: Well, no, four people didn't just magically die. He slammed his vehicle into four people, correct?

MILLER: But you're -- that there was a little bit there, Anderson, that says he -- like did he pick them out like bowling pins and run over them?

COOPER: No, he was too drunk to do that but he slammed his vehicle at high speeds --

MILLER: Exactly.

Miller's main point, though, is considerably less absurd. His argument is not that Couch should receive special treatment because he's rich enough to be able to afford a good defense team. That's a flaw in the system. Rather, courts should push more juvenile offenders into treatment and continue to shift their focus from punishment to rehabilitation.

See also: Ethan Couch Should Have Gone to Prison, but Justice? There's No Justice for Texas Kids.

Probably so, but that shouldn't mean eliminating punishment entirely.

Here's the first 10 minutes of Cooper's interview:

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.

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22 comments
jhstans
jhstans

there will be dozens of wealthy parents beating down this guys door in an effrot to keep their own little precious snowflake out of jail. He'll make a fortune and cut loose dozens of not so nice folks loose on society.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

And what of the 100,000s of children that suffer from Ghetto-itis ?

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

where am i...........really? someone kills MANY people,and it's just probation!? 


#lawyers arekillingAmericaslowlyyouf+ckers!

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

The penalties for committing crimes are not designed merely to punish the offender, but to provide a disincentive for others to commit those crimes.

If first getting a 14 year old girl drunk, stripping and raping her, then getting caught and released, only to subsequently steal alcohol, consume it, then fly down the road in a gargantuan truck with your buddies only to smash into several people, kill them, and have one of your buddies effectively dead, to be rewarded with a Southern California vacation doesn't sound like it accomplishes either of the objectives.

It pretty much guarantees repeat offenses.

markmelton
markmelton

I'm personally aware of a case where this same judge gave probation to a teenager who violently raped a 6 year old girl. This judge is terrible and should be removed from the bench. If you look at her record she's been doing this her entire career.

The_triplefake_Brandon_Eley
The_triplefake_Brandon_Eley

Will this conviction follow him into adult life or will it be sealed because he is currently a minor?

bvckvs
bvckvs topcommenter

There's some legitimacy to this.

It establishes the irresponsible nature of white-wing culture as a legitimate mental illness.


gm0622
gm0622

What is the "legal" limit for a person under the age of 21? I believe it matches the limit for CDL licenses Either .0, .01, or .02 %. 

Mommy and Daddy bought his way out of this

LawngDawngSilver
LawngDawngSilver

THC, valium, muscle relaxants and three times the adult legal limit of alcohol in his system, causing the death of innocent people ....." What more does the fkin'g justice system need?

rachael.elward
rachael.elward

Is he saying that when it comes to juveniles treatment should be increased and law enforcement decreased, while abolishing mandatory minimum sentences?

wcvemail
wcvemail

We shouldn't blame the shrink, because as Eric points out, he did exactly what he was hired to do as an expert witness. It's the judge who's at fault here, someone who has presumably heard umpteen excuses for crimes, and has the education to sort out pseudo-science and witness nonsense.

There's no way the kid will satisfactorily complete ten years of probation. He has no basis for self-discipline as he enters the most risk-taking period of his life, and he has a financial lifeline from afar in a new location. 


The prosecutor was right when he said to that judge that the kid will certainly appear in court again, sooner than later. The inevitable probation violation with evidence of repeated non-compliance with the treatment will be documented, after a protracted and well-financed fight to bring the kid back to Texas to face the music. 


DFWconspiracy
DFWconspiracy

This is sheer genius. Affluenza. Brilliant. So because this kid is rich and has been coddled since day 1, he's never had to deal with any consequences for his bad decisions. Thus, it's not his fault he killed these people. So what's the solution? Cutting him a break and further coddling him. The terrible cycle of affluenza continues.

WhiteWhale
WhiteWhale

How is a rehab at a luxury spa going to teach this young killer right from wrong?

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

No Miller, he KILLED 4 people, and maimed another one who can barely live.  The car didnt do it, the alcohol didnt do it, shitty parenting didnt do it, "affluenza" as you put it, didnt do it.  He did.  He chose to drink and drive and that led to him KILLING 4 people. You are correct that he is a child, a spoiled rotten brat, but he chose to do adult things like drink, so he should get adult like punishment as well

sec4040
sec4040

The young man could have gotten a 10 yr sentence working with MADD organization, a certain amount of hours per week and if he messed up send him to jail.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

@markmeltonShe's retiring at the end of her term. 

Probably recently came into a really good retirement plan.

dingo
dingo

@wcvemail

"We shouldn't blame the shrink, because as Eric points out, he did exactly what he was hired to do as an expert witness.  "


I blame anyone who spouts out BS for their own gain as being inherently dishonest.

t.wenchwoman
t.wenchwoman

@wcvemail You are absolutely right! While this sentence was a travesty, I feel the judge just took the pressure off of herself and put it effectively on the boy. I will be surprised if he makes 10 months without going to prison, let alone 10 years! 

lateNightMilf
lateNightMilf

That young, soft white boy will be taught a few things by the elders in rehab themselves

chasd00
chasd00

@ScottsMerkinI have to agree. If he had shot 4 people while drunk he would be tried as an adult and probably executed. I've always though killing someone while driving drunk was an open and shut life sentence.

Djonbrown
Djonbrown

Possibly a size 14 boot to the @$$, I'm sure the kid runs his mouth quite a bit from the looks of this ordeal.

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