“the Powder Donut defense.”

Q. What is the most unorthodox way someone was ever proven innocent in court?

answered by Bruce Tharpe, Attorney (1989-present)

I had a client one time on trial for possession of cocaine. We went to trial because we had nothing to lose. My client had been to prison three times. He had just gotten out. The offer for a guilty plea was around 20 years.

He was arrested in front of his parents’ house agitated and causing a disturbance. Highly intoxicated or high on something. Police found crack pipes and rocks in his parents’ attic where he had been staying. Not to mention the visible white powder all over his face at the time of his arrest.

My job as defense counsel is to provide an aggressive defense.

My first line of attack: the parents’ attic.

Were other people in the house? Yes. Did other people have access to the attic? Yes. Is it possible that the crack pipes could have been left there by someone else? Yes. Did you find any fingerprints on the crack pipes? No. (They didn’t check.) Did you find any crack pipes on my client’s person? No. There were no drugs found in my client’s actual possession? No.

Now the white powder on my client’s face: Do you have any idea what that white powder was on my client’s face? No. YOU DIDN’T TEST THE POWDER ON MY CLIENT’S FACE? No.

So any testimony about what that white powder is on my client’s face is pure speculation, is it not? Correct.


The result was reasonable doubt as to actual possession. Jury verdict: Not Guilty.

The DA’s Office still refers to this case as “the Powder Donut defense.”

Edit: 3.2K upvotes. Thanks to everyone who read this story and to the many who made comments and asked questions.

Thank you to Jay Kay who got us over 5K upvotes! Really appreciate everyone who made comments and shared!

source : Quora

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