Isla Vista has never killed anyone with a car or made anyone take drugs.
The lawyers for David Attias – a former UCSB student who hit five people with a car, killing four of them – claim I.V. is responsible for their client’s actions.
Attias is entitled to the best defense his lawyers can come up with and this one, while unlikely to cause the jury to acquit him, might help him plead insanity and reduce his sentence.
The prosecution is trying to blunt any insanity defense by saying Attias was wacked out on weed and that if he had any diminished mental capacity, it was because he was high, not crazy. To parry this prosecutorial thrust, the defense lawyers have to convince the jury that, a) Attias wasn’t that high, and b) if he was it was because I.V.’s parties made him do it and because of peer pressure.
Courtroom arguments are not always about justice; instead, they are the stories lawyers tell to get their version of justice.
No one believes that marijuana leads to “reefer madness” and it’s ludicrous to claim that I.V. could cause anyone to run five people over with a car. Yet, both sides are making these claims to get justice for David Attias.
To defend their client, Attias’ lawyers are dragging our town’s name through the mud. They’ve said the only reason Attias talked about or did any drugs was to fit in. They’ve said I.V. – filled with burning couches, keg beer and whatnot – pushed an unstable man over the edge. They’ve said if the people walking down the street weren’t drunk, they wouldn’t have been hit cars.
Isla Vista will not get justice. It has no lawyers in the courtroom to object on its behalf. It can’t sue any television stations or newspapers for libel.
Both the trial and the coverage of it will ignore a seaside town where bikes and pedestrians outnumber cars, and where people open their doors to strangers.
All Isla Vistans can do is to remember what they’re saying about I.V. isn’t true.
And tell anyone who asks.