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"Affluenza" defense? Some Texas legislators aim to ban it

FORT WORTH, Texas - Earlier this year, a fatal drunken-driving case made headlines after attorneys for the teenage suspect argued that his wealthy parents coddled him into a sense of irresponsibility - which one witness labeled "affluenza."

That defense seemingly worked; in February, the teen, Ethan Couch, who pleaded guilty to drinking and driving in a crash that left four dead, escaped time in prison, instead receiving 10 years probation.

Now, several Texas lawmakers want to ban the controversial "affluenza" defense from being used in court again, reports CBS DFW.

"It is a slap in the face of our criminal justice system," James White, a state representative from southeast Texas said of the controversial term, reports the station.

White was the first to file a bill that would keep "affluent circumstances" out of the courtroom during sentencing. Since filing the bill in late November, two other state representatives have filed similar bills, according to CBS DFW.

According to the station, White says he believes that the affluenza defense has contributed to people's mistrust of the judicial system. He believes that the system is not fair when a judge or a jury takes into consideration "affluent circumstances" as a reason for committing a crime, but the same opportunity is not afforded to a defendant who may be poor.

Attorney Regan Speers represents several of the defendants in civil cases filed against Couch and his family. She was in the courtroom when the word "affluenza" was first used.

"It is a defense that they got creative on, that's not supported by science," Speers told the station. "It is not peer reviewed. It is purely something that was made up and should have never been in the courtroom."

The new legislative session starts in January 2015. The progression of the bill is hinged on committee support and a similar bill in the Texas Senate, reports the station.