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Sour Justice: Lime Juice Self-Defense Appeal

By George Khoury, Esq. | Last updated on

For criminal defense attorneys and defendants, sometimes getting creative is the only way to get justice. Unfortunately, most of the time creativity can't carry the day when the facts and evidence are just stacked against your client.

One Indiana man is learning, the hard way, that getting doused in lime juice doesn't give you a free pass to break the fluid thrower's nose. Trent Summers, of Jasper, Indiana, appealed his felony conviction after punching another man in the face after he grabbed a bottle of lime juice and sprayed Summers's chest and arm. Summers' conviction earned him a one year suspended sentence and probation. The appellate court in Indiana was not convinced that getting sprayed with lime juice required fisticuffs to fight off.

The Lime Juice Defense

According to Summers, getting sprayed with lime juice gave him "reasonable fear or apprehension of death or great bodily injury" because he claimed that he was unaware of what the liquid was, and thought it could have been acid. Sadly for him though, the jury did not believe his testimony about being stuck in the eye with lime juice and it burning.

The jury at his trial found that his response was disproportionately excessive, not that he wasn't justified in responding to lime juice attack. The court explained that this issue of fact was for the jury to decide, and that, despite what Summers claimed, the jury had adequate evidence to reach the decision it reached. Despite the lime juice thrower's clearly going over a line while "goof-balling around" (which is actually the phrase used in the appellate opinion), the appellate court refused to disturb the jury's verdict.

The "Fill-in-the-Blank" Defense

When it comes to off the wall defense strategies, none has garnered the same level of popularity as the Twinkie defense. Similarly to the Twinkie defense, which only tangentially involved Twinkies, the lime juice defense really isn't so focused on the lime juice, and it certainly has a catchy ring to it. One big difference between these two defenses though is the fact that the Twinkie defense actually worked.

Another recent novel defense theory, the Afluenza defense, is as unbelievable as defenses come, and like the Twinkie defense, worked insofar as it resulted in a slap on the wrist rather than a couple decades behind bars.

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